Ultrarunning legend Karl Meltzer set the Appalachian Trail thru-hike speed record on Sunday. But just a day later, an unknown hiker may have beaten Meltzer’s record – and every other AT speed record there is.
According to an article on GearJunkie.com, hiker Kaiha Bertollini has no GPS tracking and is an unknown in the world of record-breaking thru-hikes. But this weekend, on the heels of Karl Meltzer, she trekked to the top of Springer Mountain at the southern end of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and proclaimed a world record time of 45 days, 6 hours, and 28 minutes. Not only would this be the fastest self-supported through-hike of the Appalachian Trail (beating Heather “Anish” Anderson’s 2015 record of 54 days), but it even tops every supported hike, beating Meltzer’s day-old record of 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes.
While many are questioning the validity of Bertollini’s record, she may have left a trail of evidence, the stops at shelters and hostels along the way, and her meetings with other hikers on the path. She also has photos posted to social media – many marked with geolocations – that record her existence along the trail this summer.
During her hike, Bertollini said she was aware Meltzer was just a day or two in front of her. “I’ve been trying to catch that S.O.B. the whole time,” she told GearJunkie.com. “I had this fantasy that I would catch his crew. He summited a day before me” at the southern end.
Regardless of Bertollini’s thru-hike accomplishment, she has an amazing story. She took up hiking as a way to recover after being sexually assaulted in 2010 while serving in the military. And her AT thru-hike comes immediately after she hiked the trail from south to north earlier this year.