HEATHER "ZIPPY" HOECHST
Heather grew up in an outdoor loving family in north Georgia. Some of her earliest memories involve playing at the base of fire towers in Brunswick, Georgia while her grandparents climbed up and down with their backpacks- training for the next section of the Appalachian Trail. She started running in high school and soon found that her favorite training days were on the trail systems around town. Later, while in law school at Penn State, Heather discovered a sport called ultrarunning, and ran her first 50 mile race in 2011. As she began to experience the joys of long days on her feet in the woods, she convinced her mom and aunt to tackle 160 miles of the Appalachian Trail- from the Hundred Mile Wilderness to Katahdin. The trip would be in honor of their mother and Heather’s grandmother, Alice, who lost her life crossing the Kennebec River on the AT in 1985. When they got to Katahdin, Heather wanted to turn around and hike all the way to Georgia- and so began a love affair with backpacking. When Heather moved to the Southwest in 2016, she continued training and racing ultra-marathons while exploring the beauty of the San Juan mountains and red rock deserts.
After several injuries that ultimately led to a hamstring surgery and deep depression in 2020, Heather rehabilitated her body and soul one step at a time on the trails around Durango, Colorado. She found peace in the simplicity of carrying everything she needed on her back and leaving the complications of life behind. Last summer, she went on her longest solo backpack from Monarch Pass to Durango on the Colorado Trail. She has also returned to ultrarunning- finishing both a 55k and 50 miler at the end of 2021. Her goals are to continue to nourish and honor her body, while also exploring the fluid boundaries of her endurance through fast packing and ultrarunning. When she’s not on the trails, Heather practices as a child welfare and disability lawyer for the Native American Disability Law Center.