Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Backpacker Radio

Aug 28, 2023

In today's episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Sara Leibold. Sara is a solo adventurer, thru-hiker, writer, and vlogger with more than 10,000 human-powered miles under her belt. Her adventures include several thru-hikes, for which we zoom in on her hikes of the AT, Benton MacKaye, and most recently, the Hayduke. We also learn about her wild adventure of rowing the length of the Mississippi River, from source to sea. And we get a run down on Sara's many odd jobs, including ridge running on the AT, working in production for ESPN, and more.

We wrap the show with sad news of an AT hiker who turned up deceased in Vermont, the triple crown of worst appetizers, and what petty hills we are willing to die on.

But first.

Visit Iceland with Chaunce and Badger: Registration is live for our 2024 trip to Iceland. Come and hike to glaciers, waterfalls, and secret lagoons with your favorite podcast hosts. More info here

Range Meal Bars: Use code “THETREK” for 20% off at

RTIC Outdoors: Shop at

Interview with Sara Leibold

Time stamps & Questions

00:03:38 - Reminders: We’re still collecting poop stories for our book. Send your story here! Join us on Patreon for more chaos! 

00:07:27 - Welcoming Sara 

00:08:01 - How did you get your trail name, Tide? 

00:8:48 - Tell us about your Master’s thesis 

00:10:14 - Why focus on the Arizona Trail? 

00:11:41 - Were you able to capture cause and effect? 

00:12:50 - Did your interest in low impact travel stem from your graduate program? 

00:13:45 - How do you define low impact travel? 

00:14:38 - Is there a style of outdoor adventure that’s lower impact? 

00:15:08 - Who did you pull your low impact inspiration from? 

00:15:50 - Can you give us your trail resume? 

00:18:30 - When was your AT start and finish date? 

00:19:29 - What put the AT on your mind? 

00:20:00 - Did you complete it in four months? 

00:20:26 - Did you have a light pack at least? 

00:20:38 - What was the response to doing the AT in 2011? 

00:21:44 - Did you let your hair grow throughout your hike? 

00:22:00 - Any big highlights from the AT? 

00:22:47 - Tell us about your river trip 

00:23:54 - What was your sport in college? 

00:24:10 - Tell us about the Suwannee river

00:24:40 - What was it like traveling with your dad? 

00:25:17 - Did you do the full length of the river? 

00:25:40 - How did you plan for your river trip? 

00:26:30 - Tell us about the Natchez Trail bike ride 

00:27:19 - How long did it take you?

00:27:44 - Are you a fast swimmer as well 

00:28:10 - Are all of your trips intentionally low impact? 

00:29:09 - What brought you back to that AT after your bikepacking trip? 

00:30:56 - Did you encounter a lot of weekend warriors? 

00:32:04 - What type of crash course tips could you give a new hiker? 

00:33:20 - What is that smell experience like? 

00:35:12 - What’s the turnover rate for ridge runners? 

00:36:36 - How often did you encounter bears in the Shenandoah

00:38:03 - What are the redeeming qualities of ridgerunning? 

00:40:10 - Do you have housing for ridgerunning? 

00:40:34 - What’s the time commitment? 

00:41:57 - Do you have insider names or terminology? 

00:44:59 - What was the best culinary experience of the Camino?

00:46:24 - Tell us about the Anna Purna Circuit? 

00:37:31 - What was drawing you to international hikes? 

00:48:07 - Did you ever feel a pull to go do the PCT or CDT? 

00:49:15 - How did you sustain a lifestyle of year-round hiking and traveling? 

00:50:12 - Did you ever have doubts living your lifestyle? 

00:51:56 - Do you have any advice for people stuck in the comparison phase?

00:53:09 - Do you foresee yourself settling for a different lifestyle? 

00:55:13 - Where do you think you gained your independence? 

00:56:13 - Tell us about your source-to-sea adventure 

00:58:18 - What did you do for butt padding? 

00:58:45 - Was it similar to college rowing? 

00:59:35 - Are there stretches where you could swim? 

01:00:17 - How do you manage going through a lock and dam? 

01:02:29 - Was any of this Type 2 fun? 

01:03:12 - What’s the safety like? 

01:05:30 - How long did it take you? 

01:05:53 - What job opportunity presented itself? 

01:06:48 - How did you fall into this job? 

01:09:58 - What are your top favorite seasonal jobs? 

01:13:19 - Do you ever take souvenirs from the US Open? 

01:16:51 - Anything else notable about your Mississippi voyage? 

01:18:36 - What was on your gear list for the Mississippi trip? 

01:19:52 - What do you eat? 

01:20:10 - What are redeeming qualities of cold soaking? 

01:22:09 - What do you cold soak in your resupply boxes? 

01:24:12 - How did you land in the hospital? Ramen overdose? 

01:27:30 - Tell us about the Netherlands/Belgium bikepack trip? 

01:31:18 - How much time are you spending on the bike vs. exploring cities? 

01:31:55 - What would you recommend for those hoping to do a similar trip? 

01:33:12 - Tell us about your Benton MacKaye hike

01:33:50 - What is a census job? 

01:36:15 - How did the Pinhoti compare to the Benton MacKaye trail? 

01:37:31 - What’s the elevator pitch for the Benton MacKaye trail? 

01:39:05 - Tell us about the Hayduke 

01:43:43 - Where did things get scary? 

01:46:06 - How did you prepare for the Hayduke? 

01:54:50 - At what point did you feel the imposter syndrome dissipate? 

01:56:04 - How has doing the Hayduke impacted future hikes? 

01:57:31 - Tell us about the book you’re writing? 

02:00:02 - Thank you, Sara! 


Trek Propaganda: Missing Appalachian Trail Hiker Found Dead in Vermont by Owen Eigenbrot

QOTD: What is a petty hill you would die on? 

Triple crown of worst appetizers 

Mail Bag 

5 Star Reviews 


Check out our sound guy @paulyboyshallcross.

Leave us a voicemail!

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Support us on Patreon to get bonus content.

Advertise on Backpacker Radio

Follow The Trek, Chaunce, Badger, and Trail Correspondents on Instagram.

Follow Backpacker Radio, The Trek and Chaunce on YouTube.

Follow Backpacker Radio on Tik Tok. 

Our theme song is Walking Slow by Animal Years.

A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Alex & Misty with Navigators Crafting, Andrew, Austen McDaniel, Austin Ford, Brad & Blair (Thirteen Adventures), Brent Stenberg, Christopher Marshburn, Coach from Marion Outdoors, Dayne, Derek Koch, DoGoodPantry, Eric Casper, Erik Hofmann, Greg McDaniel may he bring honor to his name, Liz Seger, Matt Soukup, Mike Poisel, Morgan Luke, Patrick Cianciolo, Sawyer Products, Timothy Hahn, and Tracy “Trigger” Fawns.

A big thank you to our Cinnamon Connection Champions from Patreon: 12 Trees Farms, Dcnerdlet, Emily Galusha, Jake Landgraf, Jeanne Latshaw, Jeff LaFranier, Joann Menzer, Keith Dobie Jr, Kelly Heikkila, Matthew Spence, and Peter.