An Introduction to Me: Letting It All Out and Letting It All Go

A Small Introduction: Letting It All Out

I was selected to be a blogger for Appalachian Trials, now the Trek, over three months ago and figure it’s time for an introduction. Other than a dozen scratched drafts I have only made one post that was very poor in quality and surprisingly was still made acceptable to post thanks to Zach and Maggie. I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this post but there has been so much I have wanted to say, express and ask but have been too shy or too scared to make the leap. This year is about letting it all out and letting it all go, so here goes nothing.

My first Blog and My first thru-hike

Not only is this my introduction to blogging its also my introduction to thru-hiking. I have never thru-hiked or even done an overnight backpacking trip but every hikers experience is different and their journey is their own. This journey for me is about walking 2,190 miles into the wilderness with all I have on my back and trying to find whatever it is I am looking for, to fill the parts of me that feel empty and simply to feel alive.


2016: A Year of Love, Life and Loss; not in that order.


December 31st, 2015 my super, amazing, wonderful dad, Lou, had a stroke and passed away on January 7th, 2016. I know I am not the only person to have a rough 2016 but man, that is not how I saw it starting out. Though my year was filled with wonder, adventure, friends and family, my heart, my soul and every other part of me somehow still felt empty. It’s been over a year now and I am happy to say that the loss of my dad doesn’t control my life anymore. I have learned to live my life without one of the most amazing people to ever be in it; but here I am, still empty.

My dad was my hiking partner and adventure buddy for several years and has been here since the beginning of my interest in hiking and well everything else too. Dad aka Lou, and myself both grew up in Damascus, MD, less than an hour from the AT. Dad was a big influence on my interest in the Appalachian Trail and two years ago this interest became an infatuation and then a plan.


My husband Dylan is from Ireland and after a couple years of a overseas relationship, January 25th, 2016 a month after his visa was approved and he came to America. We were married at the end of March and have had a quite adventurous year. Dylan is a solo musician and we bought an RV in June and spent all of July and October on tour, me as a driver and merch girl, exploring 40 states of this beautiful country. As for me, I am a bartender here in Nashville, TN, and as most people know the service industry is a good place to be if you live a spontaneous lifestyle. So taking the time off to travel with Dylan and now hike the AT really hasn’t been an issue at all. Leaving my husband for six months to go hike the trail will be hard but not hiking would be harder. I need to repair me so I can build a stronger us.


Now onto the life part. They say “with life comes death and the other way around”, well they were right. With the loss of my dad we did gain the life of my niece Evelynn Nicole Bargmann. Evelynn was born on June 30th, 2016, two months early and weighing in at a great base weight but bad birth weight of 2lbs 7oz. My family stayed strong and Evelynn is now happy, healthy, squishier and cuter than ever. I have to give my brother Nick and my sister-in-law Kristen, a huge shout out here. Not only were they still grieving but enduring the physical and psychological trials of a premature baby in the NICU for a month, but the many trying months before and after a baby is born. At this point I’d say they’d both successfully thru-hike the trail and would probably smile the whole way.


Last but not least there is Mom. Let me just say “I love you Mom!” My mom, Linda, has been the rock to all of us through the hard times this year and all the years of our lives before. Without her I don’t know how I would have coped with my dads loss. She’s beautiful, loving, smart, strong, and well a survivor. She has made me the woman I am and I am a proud daughter. That is why she is my main support unit on my hike. Her favorite animal is the Puffin and her official trail name is Momma Puffin or Mother Puffin, as she says. Mom rules.


Why I Am Hiking The A.T.

I will share my ‘list of reasons’ in a separate post, this is the more in depth version.

  • I strongly believe that the Appalachian Trail is magical. Mother nature is magical. It heals the mind, body and soul. There’s not much the fresh air and sunshine won’t fix and I know it can help fix my broken heart.
  • Not only am I hiking the AT for me but for my dad; he would be so proud and so jealous that I am actually doing this. Dad talked about hiking it with me but would joke that he’s “too old and too tired”.
  • When my dad died a piece of me died too; and I know the trail will help me bring that part of me to life again.
  • To honor my family. Because of them I am able to do this.
  • I want to make my mom, my husband, my brother and my grandparents proud.
  • It will be a story I cant wait to tell my little niece and my future kids someday and hopefully inspire them to dream.
  • To inspire all the people in my life to dream and live life to the fullest.
  • The fact the the odds are against me just makes me want to hike it even more. I love a good challenge. Defying the odds will make me feel like a bad-ass if I complete the whole thing and I could use the confidence boost.
  • I want to live. I want to thrive. I want to be free.
  • So I can let go of everything and let in the beauty of the trail.
  • I want to be completely emerged in nature. No work, no traffic, no schedule, no driving. My goal each day will be to enjoy each day. Also to survive.
  • Why do I want to hike the AT? So I can take a long walk and smell the roses, all the roses. So I can spend everyday in the elements and let they remind me to be thankful for the sun the wind and the rain; for all the mountains, forests and trees; for each sunrise, each sunset.

If you made it this far not only am I impressed with you but with myself as well.

Now that all of that is off of my chest I must go and continue trying to lower my base weight. Only 43 days until Springer Mountain and there’s still a lot of work to be done.










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Comments 6

  • Karen : Feb 8th

    Another option is the Ursak and Loksak bags. Much lighter. There is not yet a rule about bear canisters on the AT but it is being recommended. Personally, I’d go with the bags. Easy to use, keeps little critters out as well as bears, and less weight. Every ounce will count when you are tired and your pack is full.

    • Kristin : Feb 18th

      Thanks. I’m going with a bag for sure. After reading all I could about it, the thing that kept resonating in my head was “why carry one if no one else carry’s one?” Not the right mind sight or solution but its kinda true

  • Ashley George : Feb 10th

    My husband and I are headed out on a NOBO thru-hike on march 7th, and are also blogging here at The Trek. My dad passed away in 2008 – I know how that void feels, and I hope the trail can make you feel close to whole again, and close to your dad. I’m hoping the same thing to a point. I hope to meet you out there.

    all the love.

    • Kristin : Feb 18th

      Sorry for the delay. I hope to meet you too. Our paths could cross. I’m jealous you’re already out there. My dad is pretty much the whole reason behind me knowing of the thing called thru-hiking the AT and why I’m doing it. I hope you find your dad on the trail and fill your void with peace. Oh! and happy hiking to you and your husband. You’re lucky to get to hike it together.

  • Lisa : Feb 12th

    I loved your post and I so wish I could just pack my pack and hit the trail. Unfortunately, I have to work…but someday….Have an amazing time!

    • Kristin : Feb 18th

      Thank you. Everyone’s time is different. Everyone’s rhyme and reason is different. Somehow in life my career path lead me to be in the service industry which has allowed me to live a very flexible spontaneous life, the down side is there’s not gaurantee of money, no paid vacations. I work all weekends and holidays and most people Sunday fundays are my 2nd double in a row. I like mondays. Hopefully you will get the chance to hike the trail, even if it’s just a part. 🙂


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