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Jennifer Pharr Davis

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Long Distance Trail

Astral Archetype, Jennifer Pharr Davis, is an internationally celebrated adventurer, author, mother and business owner who set the fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail. We caught up with the force of nature, herself, to learn more.
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What is most challenging? Setting a speed record, writing a book, owning a business or being a mother?

Being a mother and running a business in which I feel directly responsible for the well-being of our employees and guests are the heaviest aspects of everyday life. Backpacking big miles, writing books, speaking in front of large audiences all have unique challenges, but if I fail or if I have a bad day the subsequent results fall primarily on my shoulders. The roles we take in life where our decisions and actions directly impact the health and well-being of those around us are always going to be the hardest.

jennifer phar photos
How are those challenges similar?

They are all matters of endurance. I’ve never been a sprinter, I’m not one for bursts of speed. But, I am pretty good at moving forward even when I’m tired or the end is out of sight. I’ve listened to a lot of talks and read a lot of books on the topic of leadership. Initially I was swayed by every new concept and adopted different techniques in terms of organization and prioritization, identifying purpose and passion, trying to serve and inspire coworkers and customers. All of those practices held merit, and some were more beneficial than others, but I now believe that the most important aspect of being a leader, taking on a big project, or facing adversity is to just show up and care. If you can do those two things over an extended period of time chances are you will be successful and impactful.

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What does Balance in the Rocks mean to you?

The thought that comes to mind is hiking through the rock fields in Pennsylvania on the Appalachian Trail and trying not to fall on my face. The second thought is that like the stacked stones in a rock cairn that marks the trail, balance is achieved in community. I think if we want balance in our family, in our workplace, in our communities and in our environment, it is going to take a lot of rocks stacked and laid and leaning and weighing and supporting each other to define a new and better path forward.

Jenn Pharr Davis hops across rocks in a mountain stream

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Jennifer Pharr Davis

Worst foot care mistake?

Not realizing that feet are like lungs and they need to breathe in order to stay healthy. Synthetic Socks and waterproof shoes wrecked my feet when I first started hiking. Now I always wear a thin pair of wool socks and Astral shoes with breathable fabric and air flow built into the design. And I take my shoes and socks off and let my feet air out when I stop for breaks. Shaking some Gold Bond Powder inside your socks and shoes is also a great way to absorb moisture and keep your feet dry and healthy.

Jennifer Pharr Davis profile photo camping
Jennifer Pharr Davis profile photo
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Wettest day on the trail?

My husband and I were hiking on a coastal trail in Wales and water was coming from every direction; down from the sky, sideways from the ocean, upwards from the puddles and creeks we trudged through. I didn’t know it could rain that hard for that long. It is the only time in all my hiking that water got in my dry bags, soaked my down sleeping bag, and it saturated our guidebook until it was illegible and dissolved like tissue. We were in such bad shape, that when the trail finally passed a farm we stopped at the house to beg for help. The farmer let us dry out and sleep in his barn next to a stall full of sheep.

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“I think if we want balance in our family, in our workplace, in our communities and in our environment, it is going to take a lot of rocks stacked and laid and leaning and weighing and supporting each other to define a new and better path forward.”

– Jennifer Pharr Davis

Best trail meal?

Every meal. I know that sounds like a cop out. But every meal on the trail somehow tastes so much better than eating the same food at home. Hunger and limited provisions can turn PB&J gourmet and make instant mashed potatoes taste like haute cuisine.

Worst trail meal?

The one you spill in the dirt and still end up eating because it’s all you have.

Jennifer Pharr Davis

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