Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, August 24, 2022: The two-woman multi-sport team of Bethany ‘Fidgit’ Hughes and Lauren ‘Neon’ Reed, known collectively as Her Odyssey, has completed a human-powered expedition traveling the length of the Americas, from the tip of South America to the Arctic Ocean. Along the way, they engaged local populations in storytelling, learning how humans and animals are adapting to a changing planet.

Her Odyssey complete route

On August 24, 2022, Hughes and Reed paddled into Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada, completing the Her Odyssey expedition that embarked in 2015 from Ushuaia, Argentina. Her Odyssey created a unique route connecting modern long distance trails such as the Great Divide Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Greater Patagonian Trail with ancient routes such as the Qhapaq Ñan across the Andes and First Nations’ river routes across North America. Hughes and Reed crossed 14 countries in multiple legs over the course of six years and nine months, traversing over 18,221 miles, ranging in elevation from below sea level to 18,000 feet.

Their modalities included: thru-hiking, bikepacking, sea kayaking, river rafting and canoeing. During their trek, they joined the short list of people who have walked the length of the Andes and became one of few women-only teams to complete an unsupported bikepacking route across Mexico and Central America. Notwithstanding the ultra-endurance sport roots of the undertaking, the focus on sharing stories and connecting with typically unheard voices highlighted the value of slow travel.

Central to Her Odyssey’s goal in embarking on this journey was a mission to redefine how the outdoor sport and long-distance community engage with local peoples and the landscape. Thus, they cultivated an approach that prioritized respect and connection with the land’s inhabitants over an accomplishment-driven mindset. In many cases, this meant re-thinking and re-developing their route, allowing for more meaningful interactions and experiences.

Mile 15,000 – Mt. Assiniboine, Alberta, Canada 2021

Stories and musings shared on the Her Odyssey blog and social media frequently explored the intersection of the climate crisis, women’s empowerment, respect for indigenous voices, and wilderness advocacy.

Hughes stated, “I want what we’ve done to build on the heritage of women walkers and to help shift the narrative of exploration from focusing on the lone conquerer toward more collective appreciation and acknowledgment of locals. I want to promote humility and flexibility as being just as much keys to success as determination and perseverance.”

Bethany Hughes has over 20,000 miles under her feet and more than 20 years of writing, recording and sharing human-powered adventures with followers across the globe. She grew up as a third culture kid, climbing in the Andes of South America and the jungles of the tropics. While earning her BA in institutions & policy in the honors Oxbridge program at William Jewell College, she worked summers as a Philmont Ranger for the Boy Scouts of America. Preparing for her first thru-hike, the Pacific Crest Trail, she worked for Alaska Icefield Expeditions dog sled teams in Tongass National Forest along Alaska’s Inside Passage. For the past 12 year she has focused on planning and pursuing the Her Odyssey Expedition and mission. She is currently writing a memoir series about Her Odyssey.

Trails hiked:

  • 2021 Great Divide Trail, Canada
  • 2019 Continental Divide Trail, USA
  • 2018 Qhapaq Ñan, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador
  • 2016 Greater Patagonian Trail
  • 2014 Tamang Heritage Trail, Nepal
  • 2012 Colorado Trail
  • 2010 Pacific Crest Trail, USA
  • 2008 West Highland Way, Scotland
  • 2007 Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

Lauren Reed discovered her joy of the outdoors at a young age, exploring the neighborhood and nearby woodlands with siblings and friends. While attending Penn State University she spent weekends leading climbing, canoeing and hiking trips. She is a Triple Crown thru-hiker, having walked the three primary long distance trails across the U.S. In her time away from longer trails, she works as a wilderness therapy guide and continues finding enrichment outdoors—learning, writing, sharing, photographing and exploring along the way.

Trails hiked:

  • 2021 Great Divide Trail, Canada
  • 2019 Western Wildland Bikepacking Route, USA
  • 2018 Qhapaq Ñan, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador
  • 2016 Greater Patagonian Trail
  • 2013 Continental Divide Trail
  • 2012 Colorado Trail
  • 2010 Pacific Crest Trail
  • 2008 Appalachian Trail
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