REI.com - Full Story
AER PARRIS//AUGUST 30, 2019
And, along the way, she’s learned that the key is meticulous planning.
Steep switchbacks flanked by tall evergreens slowed the progress of Gillian Larson, age 22, and her mother, Jodi Johnson, age 53, hiking the High Sierra Trail in the summer of 2013. As they plodded along, Larson's mom distracted her with the story of Heather "Anish" Anderson, who had just completed a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes, breaking the previous record by nearly four days. Both were in awe of how many miles Anderson had covered daily, especially as they were struggling with just 10.
“Are horses allowed?” Larson asked, almost immediately. When she returned to her home in Topanga, California, she began researching thru-riding, a term for horseback riding long-distance trails. She learned that others had thru-ridden the PCT, and knew she wanted her horses to come along for the adventure.
Today, Larson, now 27, is one of very few horsepackers to tackle the entire trail—and the only one she knows of to do it twice, in 2014 and 2016. She went on to complete the Arizona Trail and the Colorado Trail in 2017 and is also, as far as she knows, the only person to thru-ride the complete 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail (CDT). She’s learned a lot along the way—most importantly, that these long-distance trips require a lot of planning...
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