Stop and Smell the Wildflowers
Backpacker|July - August 2021
Hiking is about living in the moment, not speed.
By Kristin Smith

As new Fastest Known Time (FKT) hike attempts fill outdoorsy newsfeeds, I think it’s time for an oppositional opinion: Hiking should only be a speed sport if you’re getting chased by a bear.

In the last decade, the attention given to FKTs on trails both long and short has grown, along with the number of attempts. And with the introduction of local records and the spread of social speed-ranking apps like Strava, even casual hikers are getting in on the craze. Successful record-setters are feted as elite hikers, the best of the best—what incredible fitness and discipline! Look how well they hiked that dang trail! They went so light they didn’t even bring a stove and survived for a week on GU packets and dry ramen!

These are incredible physical achievements, certainly. But they aren’t better than any “normal” hike. In fact, they miss the point altogether.

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