Uniquely Average

I’d like to introduce myself as a cool, bold, and strong. Alas, I am simply myself. I’m an American woman in my early 50s, the wife of a retired veteran, a mother and a GiGi, an educator, and, in general, rather boring.  However, I’m in that Goldie Locks zone of being young enough to hike over 2,000 miles without too many physical limitations, but old enough to have plenty of life and backcountry experience. Additionally, most of my children are grown and I can take a leave of absence from my job.

Life Lived Outside

I grew up an hour from the Jersey shore, but my family always went to the woods or the mountains for our weekend trips and vacations.  We spent our time car camping, hiking, backcountry canoe camping, and downhill skiing. I was a cross-country and distance runner in high school and loved the trail workouts best. When I was an undergrad, I took a backpacking course and LOVED it! Fortunately, when we graduated, my husband and I lived close to the college and were able to borrow gear from the PE department. We even took our small daughters on overnight backpacking trips. This thru-hike has been on my bucket list since before we called it a bucket list. Unfortunately, military life took us away from our alma mater and we no longer had access to free gear. Fortunately, we continued to car camp and hike all around the world and even added other outdoor activities like cross-country skiing.


It’s the question I’m asked most often. Usually followed by, “Who’s going with you?” The second question has a shorter answer. I’m going alone, but meeting friends and family along the way. The first is the one that most books about thru-hiking any long trail ask you to consider. My reasons, like many thru-hikers, are many and varied.

  • I love being outdoors! I hike slowly because I love the smells, sounds, sights, tastes (wild berries!), and textures of the forest.
  • I enjoy challenging my limits: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
  • I like healthy, physical endurance activities and I’m good at them. I’m not fast, but I am stubborn enough to stick it out for the long haul.
  • Hello? ADVENTURE!!
  • I like being alone.
  • I want time alone to think about the next phase of my life.
  • My husband is supportive and excited for me. He proudly talks to everyone we know about me doing this. <3
  • This is the right time for me. (See the Goldie Locks comment above.)
  • I want to prove to myself that I can do REALLY hard things.

My Plan

I leave in just 4 weeks! I will be flip flopping this trail and heading north to Mt. Katahdin from the middle. Then going back to my start and finishing at Springer Mountain. I am a bit of a data geek and type A at times. I used my hikes last year to trail test gear, supplies, and routines to see what works best for me. I have 4 spreadsheets that I’ve been using for the last 3 months to plan this out. I started gathering gear and supplies last year.  Family and friends are sending mail drops along the way. I think I’ll be getting one almost every week! I also have friends and family hosting me a few times for off-trail days.

Excitement Through the Roof!

Remember the little girls in the movie Despicable Me? I want to be Margo, the cool, savvy, smart older girl. In my mind, I am her. IRL? I’m Agnes with her uncontained excitement and emotions. I’m that 6 year old girl in a middle-aged woman’s body. I have a hard time containing my exuberance about life and my upcoming adventure. I’ll catch up with you in a few weeks to tell you about my packing list!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 6

  • Liz : Mar 2nd

    Kristine – I just saw your trail blog and I’m so excited for you! Eight years ago 3 great buddies and I (our shared trail name is The Momma Bears) began section hiking the AT! Our little band of hikers is planning a mid-July hike on the southern Virginia section of the AT for 8-10 days. While I now live on the coast of NC, my buddies live in Staunton, VA (near Waynesboro, VA which is a favorite hiker stop over). If you are in need of anything when you are hiking that section, I can promise you that you will have the help and support of The Momma Bears!
    I look forward to following your prep and progress once you get started.

    Blessings to you – Liz

  • Kristine Hartlaub : Mar 2nd

    Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful hike this summer. I expect to be down there sometime in August.

  • darrian s : Mar 5th

    That’s awesome my parents are starting the AT in april at WV and flip flopping Maine to Georgia too

    • Kristine Hartlaub : Mar 10th

      That’s great! Maybe they’ll catch up to me at some point! (Remember I’m slow?)

  • Tiff H. : Apr 2nd

    Hello!! I met you on trail this week on Day 2 of your journey. I’m from PA and I’d love to help you out in any way! I’m so excited for you! You Can Do Hard Things!!

    • Kristine Hartlaub : Apr 22nd

      HI! I remember meeting you on the trail! I’m almost finished with PA, but I have learned I can do many hard things! Thanks!


What Do You Think?