April 28, 2022, 5:55 pm: Ella Bredthauer reached Springer Mountain, the terminus of the Benton MacKaye trail. Ella’s shuttle, which she had scheduled before setting off on the trail eight days before, arrived five minutes later – right on time.
Ella’s uncanny punctuality belies the ordeals she faced in setting the fastest known self-supported time on the 288-mile trail. First, Ella had to get over her fear of hiking solo in the dark. (Nightlife encounters with feral pigs and big shiny eyes didn’t help.) Then there was loneliness from only seeing three people over the final six or so days. And finally, Ella succumbed to crippling nausea from powering her way up and down the Appalachian's steep and rocky, hot and muggy slopes.
Learn how Ella overcame these obstacles on the latest episode of the FKT Podcast. Ella and host Heather Anderson, who has completed the Benton MacKaye trail herself, dig into night hiking strategies. They discuss the challenges of charging all of your electronic devices while trying to set a multi-day record. And they shed light on just how remote and empty the Benton MacKaye feels compared to the overlapping Appalachian Trail.
To run or not to run? Ella and Heather get into that, too. Plus, Ella divulges the backpacking gear she can’t hike without, as well as the one critical gear error she made on this record-setting journey.