Then comes the 160-mile sprint through New York and New Jersey.

The rock fields of Pennsylvania are "demoralizing," she said. "Emotionally, it's one of the hardest sections. Once you get to the rocks, that's all you can remember."

Maryland "is a rewarding state. There's so much history: South Mountain battlefield, the original Washington Monument, the C&O Canal. You feel so close to our capital," Davis said. Plus, "it's not Pennsylvania."

West Virginia also provides a short respite before she faces Virginia, which contains more than a quarter of the entire trail. Then it's the 381-mile stretch through Tennessee and North Carolina, and the final 76 miles in Georgia to stand at the trail's southern terminus atop Springer Mountain.

Davis expects to kill a pair of running shoes every 400 miles, consume 6,000 calories a day and still lose about 20 pounds off her 6-foot frame. If her cravings remain the same, salty kettle-style potato chips will be her go-to balm with ice cream a close second.

"The thing I like about ice cream is you don't have to chew," she said, laughing. "It's almost impossible to keep your weight up, and you're taking in so many calories that you get tired of chewing."

Davis said she's looking forward to, once again, being immersed in nature.

"Even though I want to break a record, the trail is in control," she said just before we hung up. "I'm just along for the ride."

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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