TRAIL TALK

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home

In 2013, Heather “Anish” Anderson left her job, her marriage, and a dissatisfied life and walked into the mountains. Having recently completed the “Triple Crown” of thru-hiking—the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT)—she longed for more. With new purpose, Anderson sought to claim the Fastest Known Time (FKT) for thru-hiking the entire 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, and in just 60 days, 17 hours, 12 minutes she achieved that feat. The story of her epic—and at times grueling—journey is detailed in her new memoir, Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home.

In the same vein as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, the Pacific Crest Trail provides the setting for a tortured soul seeking to find themselves and wrestle with their inner demons. The physical portion of their two journeys share many parallels: water shortages, freak storms, wildlife encounters, malfunctioning gear and even a creepy encounter in the Northwest. The emotional journeys are where their paths diverge. While Strayed struggled with addiction and personal loss, Anderson struggles with self-worth and depression.

When asked how she learned to persevere through the many struggles of her journey, Anderson replies, “I learned acceptance—both of myself and circumstances. I learned how to think only about how I respond to things, rather than lament when they aren’t what I expected or wanted.” This mindset became the driving force that kept her moving until—spoiler alert—her perseverance pays and she’s able to claim the PCT’s FKT.

In Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home, Anderson recounts her journey almost as fast as she hiked the PCT. It’s a quick read, where the landscape whizzes by in a blur, and every drink of water is a gift from the gods. You not only feel every blister on her trail-weary feet, but also experience her inspirational progression as she overcomes inner turmoil and self-doubt and transforms into a determined hiking machine with a singular goal. As Anderson puts it, “Turmoil doesn’t last forever. Turmoil is pretty easy to walk out. It’s growth that’s hard. Thirst is really just the tip of that iceberg.”

Anish on the PCT entering Oregon.
Anish at the Bridge of the Gods

Meet Heather "Anish" Anderson in Portland!

Heather will be presenting her new memoir, Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home, at the downtown Patagonia store on Thursday, March 14, at 7pm. Visit Patagonia’s event page for more info and to RSVP.

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home is now available in paperback and e-book. Since 2003, Heather has hiked more than thirty thousand miles. In addition to her PCT FKT, she also holds the women’s FKT on the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the women’s FKT for a single-year Triple Crown (PCT, CDT, AT). When asked what motivates her, she simply responds, “I just really, really love hiking.” Heather is currently working on several ascent lists in the US and abroad. Follow her adventures at Anish Hikes and @AnishHikes. 

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home is published by Mountaineers Books, Seattle WA. Photos courtesy of Heather Anderson.

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