Averaging an amazing 48 miles a day, Joe McConaughy crushed the previous unsupported speed record for hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The trail which starts at Springer Mountain, GA., and finishes at the Summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine is 2,190 miles long. Most hikers take 6 months or more to finish the trek. McConaughy reached the terminus on August 31, in just 45 days, 12 hours and 15 minutes.
“I’m am in shock and pain, joyful and thankful, humbled and tired, in disbelief and exhilaration. I will be forever perplexed and appreciative of what the wilderness brings out in myself and others.”
-Joe “StringBEAN” MCCONAUGHY
To through hike a trail unsupported means to hike it without help. This takes planning and means no food or water deliveries from support teams. Before starting, unsupported hikers mail themselves fresh supplies to post offices along the route.
The previous verified unsupported record was set in 2015 by Heather “Anish” Anderson. Her time was 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes.
Just this past July, Dan “Knotts” Binde claimed a new record of 53 days, 22 hours and 57 minutes. However, Binde’s SPOT device (GPS Tracker) reportedly malfunctioned between miles 300 and 1300, making it difficult to verify Binde’s progression.
It should be noted that there is no sanctioning body for AT records. With today’s technology available it’s the burden of those pushing the limits to have evidence to support their claim. Reportedly, McConaughy has ample global-positioning data and social media time stamps.
Remarkably, if McConaughy’s time is verified, he’ll have also bested the fastest supported hike on the Appalachian Trail. Ultra-runner Karl Meltzer completed the trail with support in 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes. That’s about 10 hours slower than McConaughy’s unsupported hike.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first record for the 26-year-old McConaughy. In 2014 he set the record for the Pacific Crest Trail. He completed the 2,660-mile trail in just 53 days. But that record was broken in 2016.
What was it like?
You can get a lot of insight about Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy’s journey by looking at his Instagram page @thestring.bean. Below is a post he made about his daily diet. The caloric intake required to go 48 a miles a day was extreme.
For those wondering, McConaughy tells the Boston Globe that he saw 16 bears and 4 rattlesnakes along the way.
He completed his last leg of the AT by hiking 110 miles (37 hours straight) to get to the top of Mt. Katahdin.