Jennifer Pharr Davis never once imagined that a five-month hike across the Appalachian Trail after college would inspire her life's work, but it did.
"After college, I wanted to have one adventure, so I decided to do the Appalachian Trail," Davis said. "I thought it had so much to offer - self-worth, self-confidence, a perception of beauty."
She said even after her first hike, she didn't think hiking could be a career path.
She got what she calls a "normal" job and started saving up time and money to take other hikes.
After four years, at age 25, she founded Blue Ridge Hiking Co. in North Carolina.
She said women kept asking her "Can you help us get out on the trail?" and "Will you come to my business and talk about your experiences?"
"I pretty much decided that all of my money and all of my free time was going to the trail," Davis said. "Wouldn't it be great if I could do this full time and help other people get out there and have their own experience and enjoy some of the benefits of the wilderness that I had experienced?"
Davis has written three North Carolina guidebooks and two hiking memoirs.
She's currently traveling the country with her husband, Brew, giving talks in all 50 states. She will speak about her hiking experiences and her most recent memoir, Called Again, at 7 p.m. Thursday in Missouri River Regional Library's art gallery.
Davis, who was named a 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, said Called Again is about her and her husband's journey across the Trail in 2011. She became the overall speed record holder on the Trail, hiking 2,181 miles in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes.
"Our new book Called Again is about the overall record," Davis said. "It's kind of a mind-blowing accomplishment to hike 47 miles a day for 46 days, but the true essence of the book is teamwork and how my husband supported me the whole way."
Friends and family also supported the couple on their journey.
"I think people are surprised by the book because it's very relational and in a way, it's definitely a love story," Davis said. "At the same time, it's sort of interesting insight into sports psychology and spending time in the wilderness."
She said she hopes that people can learn that the Appalachian Trail is there for people in every stage of life.
"People don't appreciate what they don't experience," Davis said. "I feel like if I can just get people outdoors and help them connect with nature, then that will help with conservation as well."