Book review: Thirst, by Anish || Honest & accurate depiction of PCT FKT

“Better her than me,” I said multiple times during Thirst: 2600 miles to home, by Heather Anderson (“Anish”) about her record-setting thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013, which she completed in 60+ days at an astounding pace of over 43 miles per day.

This glorified diary is an honest and accurate depiction of the endeavor. Understandably, Heather is often sleep-deprived, hungry, and overwhelmed (and as a function of those things, emotionally raw). Necessarily, she’s obsessed with the details of her locomotion: hours moving, pack weight, remaining calories, water supply, foot health, headlamp brightness, etc. And, rightfully, she has a laser-like focus on her trip and her goal; the occasional deviations from the main story provide insight about who and why, but the landscapes through which she walks receive only cursory attention.

Criticism of Thirst will be aimed primarily at Heather’s style. It’s a convincing Exhibit A that demonstrates the difficulty of smelling the roses when you’re slaying miles like it’s your job.

But as a book, I think that Thirst properly depicts the experience. Let’s be honest: FKT’s of this duration are inward journeys, and their predominate themes — like setting goals, believing in oneself, overcoming odds, and pushing through adversity — share more in common with the bios of Olympians and survivors than the writings of Muir and Thoreau, or even Caroline van Hamert.

Thirst reads quickly and is well written, although it’s diary structure limits introspection and forces dedication of pages to uneventful and non-pivotal days. (As a supplement, consider The Pursuit of Enduranceby Jennifer Phar Davis.) It’s personal, with open discussions of Heather’s failed marriage, unfulfilling attempt at conventional life, and her struggles as an overweight child. Finally, it’s a unique book — Heather’s experiences put her in rare company.

Book specs

  • Mountaineers Press
  • Released February 2019
  • $25
  • 208 pages

For a signed copy, purchase directly from Heather.

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Posted in on April 14, 2019


  1. Jim Dean on April 17, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Your mention of the challenges transitioning to “conventional life” from an “unconventional” life is striking, in the same vein of the recent Seattle Times article about Rebecca Twigg’s homelessness and challenges after her elite bicycle racing career ended: I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences after your extended trips?

  2. Geoff Caplan on June 10, 2019 at 10:56 am

    FKTs are reaching superhuman dimensions.

    England’s Southwest Coast Path is only 1/4 the length of the PCT, but the record currently stands at 10.6 days, averaging 59.4 miles and 10,470 feet of brutally steep ascent and descent per day!

    Is there an alien race living among us?

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