By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Lee County Library will turn into a destination for outdoor, hiking and other nature enthusiasts next month as one of the nation’s premiere hikers will pause long enough to join a literary club including Alice Walker, Shelby Foote, Willie Morris and Pat Conroy.
An intercontinental hiker with more than 12,000 miles behind her will deliver the 41st annual Helen Foster Lecture at 7 p.m. May 14, a free event open to the public.
Jennifer Pharr Davis found time between hikes on six continents to write books about her hiking experiences, trail guide books and “Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph,” her 2013 memoir detailing endurance, faith and love that helped her break the Appalachian Trail’s overall speed record in 2011. She averaged 47 miles per day to conquer the 2,181-mile trail in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes.
Three years earlier, Pharr Davis broke the Appalachian Trail women’s record for the fastest hike through the 14-state outdoor journey.
Currently, she continues a goal of hiking in all 50 states as she speaks to groups in libraries and other settings along the way.
“It’s my mission to get people out on the trails,” Pharr Davis said.
Jeff Tomlinson, director of the Lee-Itawamba Library System, said the hiker and author will bring a love for outdoors relevant to the community and sense of adventure. He said hikers and readers share key traits.
“They’ve got to be curious people,” Tomlinson said. “That sort of mind-set is the kind of person who explores things.”
The lecture series is named after Helen Foster, a former Lee County librarian and board of trustees member, to fill a community need without using regular library funds. Video and audio recordings of previous lecture speakers can be checked out at the library.