A roller coaster of mountains & emotions on the AT

Keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times please

Well maybe not this time cause you’ll need all the muscle in your legs to power you up, and strong arms to hold a sturdy pair of trekking poles to control on the way down through the 13.5 miles of the Roller Coaster.

Yes you read that correctly, 13.5 miles of steep ups and downs. We were warned by many before we got there and a few section hikers cringed when we asked them about their ride through it.


Buuuuuuut it was a piece of cake! I would climb the roller coaster ten times over again before I did the Priest and 3 Ridges. Those are cringe worthy. Maybe it helped that we were going from one hostel to another and we’re fueled by pizza and ice cream, but I think it was a mix of having great trail legs and those other hikers over exaggerating.

Halfway there (psychologically)

I went in to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harper’s Ferry, WV and became Northbound hiker number 42! (I started at Amicolola Falls as #58) While this was once the actual halfway point long ago, the trail has been re-routed and miles have been added but it’s still close enough that many consider it halfway at least psychologically.


It’s raining it’s pouring, everybody’s snoring

A zero day is way more tempting on a rainy day, especially when I’m  already at a hostel. The last week on the trail has been very gloomy and gray in terms of weather and little bit of it seeped into my spirits too. Something about being wet, cold and tired just makes me wanna crawl into bed, crazy right?

Well that’s exactly what I did in Harper’s Ferry….After a day of exploring Washington, DC! I rode my very first train explore the Capitol (also another first for me). Rode a train, metro, bike and car all in one day ?



Breaking point

But all of the exploring on our day off of hiking wasn’t really rest and it was taking its toll on my body. After a little sleep at Tumbalina’s apartment (AT 2016 Sobo hiker) I woke up the next day with a plan to do a 20 mile day out of Harper’s Ferry in hopes of going with my plan to make it to Bear Mountain, NY by May 13. And like most mornings that I have service, I called my mama to chat on my way to the trail. Lonnng story short- I broke down in tears from exhaustion, homesickness and fear. I didn’t want to do a 20 mile day and leave my tramily, heck I didn’t want to hike at all that day. It was rainy, early, and I was hungry and I was tired.

I did as my mom said and turned around. Tumbalina let me take a nap at her place while she volunteered at the Flip Flop festival. I waited for my friends to return from their resupply so that we could hike a short and sweet 10 miles together and stay with one of their friends that evening and all is well.


Made it to the actual halfway point on 4/25/17! (This is the old sign though, it was after this year’s Midway sign, but that one wasn’t a cool as this one?)

I got too caught up in the making the miles part of hiking that I was starting to miss out on the smiling part of it. Which brings me to….

The pancake challenge!


Goodies Restaurant in Duncannon, Pennsylvania has a challenge that only includes stuffing your face with 8 pancakes. What hiker wouldn’t try it!? Answer: the smart one. My hiker hunger was no match for this stack! I got about two and a half pancakes deep before I admitted defeat ?

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Comments 9

  • ray bennefield : Apr 28th

    I believe this story is very inspirational I’ve been planning to hike the Appalachian trail for a long time and reading this story along with many others has has given me useful advice and sparked my willingness to want to pursue the trail one day.

  • David Paal : Apr 29th

    Bethany, I believe you should write a book when you’re done. You have an interesting perspective on doing the A.T. hike I believe could benefit others, especially from a woman’s perspective. You’re making good progress, and, being Hiker #58 out of Amicalola tells me you likely started in January. You will finish in great summer weather in Maine. Congrats so far kiddo. I’m spoiled and get to train on the A.T. 2-4 days a week in North GA. My start date is Feb. 15 next year. Keep on keeping on.

  • Zach : May 2nd

    Oh man this brings back PTSD. I hit the roller coaster when temps were over of 90-degrees. Pretty sure I set a new world-record for sweat (and smell).

    Loving the updates, Bethany. You’re so fast.

  • Lisa : May 4th

    Nice hiking!! Who on earth could eat all those pancakes??

    • Tim, Su & San : May 12th

      Me, with real butter and smothered in SORGHUM SYRUP!!! mmmmmmmm

  • Tim, Su & San : May 9th

    You are an inspiration, we hope you do wright a book that includes your enlightening spirit and enthusiasm, hope to hike the AT with my son when he finishes collage in a few years. Keep crushing the miles!

  • panhandle Bushman : May 18th

    I am enjoying tracking your progress. good luck

  • David Paal : May 24th

    Bethany, It’s now May 24, and my guess is that you are possibly near the Vermont border by now…if not beyond. My prediction is you will finish in 4 to 4-1/2 months. The other woman you remind me of is Jennifer Pharr Davis, aka “Odessa”, who was a legendary AT mile crusher like you have become. You need to write a book upon completion, and, maybe figure out a way to make the trail a livelihood or a second career. Kudos to your slow-twitch muscle fibers that can handle the punishing pace you maintained so far. You’re going to become an AT Legend when it’s over with. Congrats in advance.


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