Bethany “Fidgit” Hughes on Hiking, Biking, and Paddling 20,000+ Miles Across the Americas (BPR #251)

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are once again joined by Bethany “Fidgit” Hughes. Fidget has hiked, paddled, and cycled more than 22,000 miles across 25 countries as one half of the Her Odyssey Expedition, a human-powered endeavor to connect the Americas following the longest chain of mountains in the world while telling the story of the land and its inhabitants, a journey she completed in August 2022. 

Bethany was last on the podcast more than 5 years ago, when she had completed the South American leg of this wild expedition, she catches us up with her and her partner’s journey through Central and North America. We go deep on how she navigates the more unsafe sections of this journey, especially through Central America and Mexico and navigating the cartel, dodging crocodiles, canoeing the 3,000+ mile Arctic Drainage to reach the Arctic Ocean, and much, much more. This one is full of engaging stories, you will not be disappointed.

We wrap the show with news of the first woman to complete the Barkley Marathons, a deadly mountain lion attack in California, and the triple crown of breakfasts.

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Interview with Bethany “Fidgit” Hughes

Time stamps & Questions

00:04:08 – Reminders: We will be at Trail Days! And…subscribe to us on Youtube!

00:05:07 – (Re)introducing Bethany

00:06:23 – Tell us about your recent 10 day silent retreat

00:16:25 – Did you have moments where you wanted to speak?

00:18:30 – Give us the summary of what part of the odyssey you’d completed the last time you were on the podcast

00:23:00 – What was the timeline of going across Central America?

00:25:58 – How would you describe your appreciation for bikepacking?

00:28:24 – Do you find that elitism is more prevalent in bikepacking than thru-hiking?

00:33:10 – If someone wanted to do a similar route, what advice would you offer?

00:37:26 – How many scenarios felt unsafe during the Central American portion?

00:42:08 – Did you find the State Department’s advisories helpful?

00:43:28 – Are there extra safety precautions for solo female travelers?

00:47:38 – What other safety methods do you recommend?

00:50:45 – What were some of the highlights of the Central American portion of your route?

00:53:33 – Is there a crocodile protocol?

00:57:50 – Where did you go after kayaking in Panama?

01:00:25 – How safe did you feel in Mexico?

01:05:50 – How did you learn these trends and strategies?

01:08:23 – Is it easy to spot a gangster?

01:10:44 – Tell us about jumping over to the Baja California Peninsula

01:13:20 – Did you have any weird encounters along the US-Mexico border?

01:20:00 – Discussion about the evolution of trail magic and entitlement

01:22:36 – How do you recommend people participate in a gift-giving culture?

01:28:07 – Tell us any standout stories from hiking the CDT

01:33:20 – Do you think Her Odyssey has made you more adaptable as a thru-hiker?

01:40:22 – Tell us about the Great Divide Trail

01:46:25 – What are Treaty Days?

01:48:38 – Discussion about climate change along the route

01:51:05 – Discussion about the paddling trip to the Arctic Ocean

01:59:00 – How did you develop paddling skills?

02:01:16 – Did your caloric needs increase on the paddling portion of the odyssey?

02:02:18 – Bethany’s hot take on umbrellas

02:05:40 – Where can people learn more about you?


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