Nika ‘Early Bird’ Meyers Sets a New Self-Supported Colorado Trail FKT
Last week thru-hiker and artist Nika ‘Early Bird’ Meyers set a new female self-supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the 485-mile Colorado Trail of 9 days, 14 hours, and 19 minutes. Her time takes down the previous record of 10 days, 12 hours, and 36 minutes set less than one year ago by Mikaela ‘FlyBy’ Osler. Starting at the eastern terminus at 5:51am on July 21st, Meyers averaged over 50 miles per day, although ‘per day’ became a loose term. She often hiked through the night to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
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A Spontaneous Attempt
Meyers originally intended to challenge the Colorado Trail FKT in 2020. After the pandemic convinced her to delay her attempt, it was not obvious when she would have another chance. However, an unexpected break from work provided her with the window of time that she needed. With just four days to make preparations, including gathering her gear and packaging resupply drops, Meyers pulled it together, delivering food caches at three locations along the trail.
With so little time to prepare her body, “ training followed a very non-traditional route.” Shorter hikes everyday of 4-7 miles formed the bulk of her training regimen as she focused on consistency by getting outside everyday.
Not Her First FKT
Myers is no stranger to hiking far and fast. She completed her Triple Crown in 2018 with a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, following up her hikes of the PCT and CDT, in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Shortly after hiking the Arizona Trail in 2019, the Vermont native also set the female unsupported FKT on Vermont’s Long Trail in 2019 by hiking the 273-mile route in 6 days, 11 hours, and 40 minutes (In a strange twist, that FKT was broken this year by none other than Mikaela ‘FlyBy’ Osler. Remember her?). After moving to Colorado, it was only a matter of time before she attempted to capture the Colorado Trail FKT.
Lightning and Rain
Although she trimmed nearly an entire day of the standing FKT, Meyers managed to do so despite horrendous weather. She encountered rain every day of her hike, and often needed to wait out afternoon thunderstorms before pushing into exposed terrain above treeline. In an effort to mitigate the risk of getting caught in a bad spot, she made a habit out of hiking through the night in order to make it to lower elevations by the time expected storms arrived. Waking up at 11:30pm, 1am, or 2am was a common tactic to both maximize hiking hours and stay safe.
Despite her efforts, the threat of getting struck by lightning caused significant anxiety. On her last morning, she encountered the jagged splinters of numerous trees exploded by lightning. She finished with a 58.5-mile push, spanning from 11:30pm to 8:10pm the next day. Fittingly, she reached the western terminus in a downpour.
To read Early Bird’s harrowing trip report of her Colorado Trail FKT attempt, head to her website nikameyers.com
Featured image via instagram.com/earlybirdhikes.art/
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– CT class of 2017