Did An Unknown Hiker Just Break Every A.T. Record?

Her story seems inconceivable. She 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, Kaiha Bertollini 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.

If her claims hold up, Kaiha “Wildcard Ninja” Bertollini just broke every record ever set on the Appalachian Trail. Not only would this be the fastest self-supported through-hike of the A.T. (beating Heather “Anish” Anderson’s 2015 record of 54 days), but it even tops every supported hike (beating ultra-running legend Karl Meltzer’s day-old record of 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes).

While the verdict is still out among the A.T. community as to the veracity of her claims, her story is incredible, and it begins with an alleged sexual assault in 2010.

According to Bertollini’s blog, Hike for Our Lives:

In 2010 while I was serving in the military I was sexually assaulted by multiple men in my unit while stationed at Fort Stewart Army Base in Hinesville, GA. The events of that night forever changed the way I connect with the world around me. However, with time the events from that night also lead me down a path of self-empowerment, self-love, and self-respect that no one will ever be able to take from me again. Although, some things will never be the same. I am no longer afraid to speak out against sexual assault and oppression of any kind. Standing up for all of our rights to exist.

Now that the hike is completed, Bertollini faces the new challenge of defending her Fastest Known Time claims. She’s put the call out on social media to ask those who saw her along the trail to come forward and validate some of her claims.

Regardless how history washes out, and whether her feat is regarded as a record, carries an asterisk, or is outright rejected, her mission to give victims the courage and strength to speak out publicly against sexual assaults, rape culture, and gender inequality appears well intentioned.

Gear Junkie is following this story…

 

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