What: 2019 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Heather “Anish” Anderson discusses her memoir, “Thirst: 2,600 Miles to Home”

When: 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Downtown Bend Public Library, 601 NW Wall St.

Cost: Free

Contact: deschuteslibrary.org or 541-312-1063

When: 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Paulina Springs Books, 252 W. Hood Ave., Sisters

Cost: Free

Contact: paulinaspringsbooks.com or 541-549-0866

Seattle’s Heather “Anish” Anderson has blazed many trails in the hiking world, completing the Pacific Crest, Appalachian and Continental Divide trails three times each and setting numerous records for speed and distance along the way.

In 2018, she became the first woman and one of only six people to complete this Triple Crown of hiking within a calendar year, trekking almost 8,000 grueling miles with 1 million feet of vertical gain. So far in 2019, Anderson has been named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and added a new and more sedentary accomplishment to her resume with the January publication of her memoir, “Thirst: 2,600 Miles to Home.”

Anish is the trail nickname Anderson chose for herself when she first began distance hiking after graduating from college in 2003. It honors her great-great grandmother who was a member of the Anishinabe people.

Anderson will discuss her book and the challenges, triumphs and discoveries she has experienced out on the trail during events on Saturday in Bend and Sunday in Sisters.

“Thirst” recounts Anderson’s 2013 record-breaking hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in the fastest-known, self-supported time for a man or woman. She completed the 2,655 mile route in just 60 days (most people take five months), averaging 44 miles per day and beating the previous record by four days.

But the narrative is much more than a tale of the rigors of trail life. For someone whose now well-known feats of physical endurance make her seem like a superhero, Anderson’s story is an open and vulnerable exploration of her inner frailties, self-doubt and search for purpose. From the decision to end her first marriage and give up her desk job to pursue her love of the outdoors, to surviving dehydration, hunger, sleep deprivation and close encounters with mountain lions, Anderson is propelled onward during her quest by her literal and figurative thirst to push beyond her perceived limits and discover her truest self.

But what motivated a former “200-pound couch potato” to not just tackle multiple marathon hikes that have defeated many elite athletes, but to then repeat those hikes while adding the difficulty and pressure of speed into the equation?

“There were a lot of changes going on in my life, and I felt like I needed a new challenge,” Anderson said. “But I wanted to return to something familiar, like hiking, but do it in an unfamiliar way. That provided me with a challenge, but I still felt comfortable out on the trail. In the end, always what it comes down to is that I enjoy being outside and doing something that I love. Taking on challenges like this, you’re always learning about yourself and learning new skills and learning adaptations.”

When Anderson begins a long hike, she experiences an initial physical toll, but says her body usually adapts to those demands within a couple of weeks. However, the real key to her success is strength of will.

“I’d say after a certain point on the trail it becomes more mental. The real challenge is staying focused on it throughout. In a normal hike when time doesn’t matter, you can just take a day off. But with what I’m doing, you have to keep going day in and day out because there’s a timeline.”

Anderson kept journals during her 2013 PCT hike and captured other reflections about that odyssey that she used as the basis for “Thirst.” She decided to write the memoir because she hoped people would connect with her physical and emotional journey and perhaps be inspired to explore new frontiers in their own lives. The fundamental lesson Anderson has learned that can be applied to almost any seemingly insurmountable challenge, is to simply approach it one step at a time.

“It was a revelation to go back five years to the person I was at that time,” Anderson said. “I had grown and changed a lot from 2013, so going back without trying to jump ahead and interject my current self into the story was a big challenge. But it was also wonderful to see that growth.”

Anderson is often asked for advice by people considering hiking the PCT or one of the other mega-trails. Rather than dive into the minutiae of boots, tents, injury prevention, routes and logistics, she starts with three words of wisdom: “Just try it.”

“I think a lot of people are afraid to try it,” Anderson explained. “But life’s not going to just give you six months to go do this. You have to make the conscious choices to make it happen.”

After racking up an astonishing 28,000 trail miles while completing 13 thru-hikes since 2003, 37-year-old Anderson plans to take 2019 off to focus on her book tour and spend time with her husband.

“I think I’ve earned a break after a decade — actually more than a decade — of being out on the trail so much,” Anderson said. No one is likely to argue with that. You go ahead and put your feet up Anish.

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