My first introduction to thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail came from the pen of Jennifer Pharr Davis, author of “Becoming Odyssa.” In 2005, as a 21 year-old young woman, Jennifer Pharr (trail name Odyssa) decided to take on the challenge of the AT and hiked from Georgia to Maine. As I read this true-life adventure, I felt the tug on my own heart to walk the walk. A year ago this month, I opened the pages of “Becoming Odyssa” at the recommendation of my wife. Cathy had traveled through the pages and thought I might like to make the trip as well (metaphorically, of course). By the time I completed the diary, I was ready to buy a sleeping bag, a tent, a backpack, and hit the trail.
This Tuesday, October 22, Cathy and I had the opportunity to hear Jennifer speak – she shared her story at Benchmark Outfitters in Cincinnati. Since making the original thru-hike, Jennifer has made two other AT journeys. The first set the woman’s speed record (57 days) and the second set the record for the all-time (men or women) fastest hike of the Appalachian Trail (46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes)!! I recently read her second book, “Called Again” that journaled her second, record-breaking hike.
Odyssa, her husband, Brew, and their adorable toddler daughter (Charlie) were all in attendance at Benchmark and I was not disappointed when I heard my hero share. Her beautiful North Carolina accent and her articulate delivery made the time together so enjoyable. It is not often that you get to meet one of your heroes, so the night was quite special for me. I bought some autographed books, got to talk with Jennifer personally, and even got a cool picture with her. What an inspiration, an example of courage, and portrait of dedication and diligence she is to me. Thanks Odyssa!