29-year old Bethany Hughes is no stranger to long distance hiking. After all, she has already completed the entire length of the 2650-mile (4264 km) long Pacific Crest Trail. But now, she is preparing to set out on an expedition that will make that one pale in comparison. One that will cover more than 20,000 miles (32,186 km), and take upwards of five years to complete.
In December of this year, Bethany will head to Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in South America, and will begin trekking north. Her goal is to become the first woman to travel across the entire length of the Americas completely under her own power, eventually reaching Barrow, Alaska. Along the way, she’ll face endless miles of challenges, including crossing over mountain ranges, passing through dense forests and jungles, and hiking arid deserts. She’ll also be visiting regions that are no necessarily safe for travelers, man or woman, as she makes her way across two continents.
The plan is to embark from Ushuaia with a friend. The duo will first trek through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. At that point, Bethany’s companion will head home, while she continues on bike through Central America and Mexico. Once back in the U.S., she’ll elect to bike, hike, or paddle depending on weather conditions. She hasn’t ruled out using a dogsled team in parts of Canada and Alaska as well.
Hughes has a great deal of experience living in a various parts of the world, and her adventures have taken her across the globe. As a child, her missionary parents lived in places like Chile, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. She has also spent time in Spain, and studied at Oxford as well. And while her experience on the PCT will prove invaluable on this major hike, nothing can quite prepare her for everything she’ll face walking from one end of the South America to the other end of North America.
Bethany says she’s making the trek to not only inspire others to go out and chase their own adventures, but to open up opportunities for women too. She says she’ll stay in local villages along the way, and document the way of life that she encounters as well. You’ll be able to follow her progress, and learn more about the journey, at the official website for the expedition – Her-Odyssey.org.
Good luck to Bethany on this amazing excursion.