A Letter to my Father, Rainbow Express

Dad,

It’s only been less than a week since you passed away but it feels like it’s been years. The days have dragged on and on without you. I know you’re in a better place now but the selfish part of me wishes you could have stayed with us longer.

You still had so many things to do. And I’m sure there’s a hundred stories you never got to tell me about your amazing life. You were supposed to be here for me this year to help me hike the Appalachian Trail. I know how excited you were to be able to help Skywalker and I follow our dreams. You were more excited to help us hike the trail than you were to hike the trail again yourself.

I’m just so glad I was able to spend a week with you last year hiking from Springer Mountain to Neels Gap. You kept telling me I could hike ahead of you and not to let you slow me down but I didn’t want to because I enjoyed all the stories you told me as we walked through the woods and up and down mountains. I will cherish that week of time spent with you for the rest of my life. I love you dad. Please watch over me as I hike the trail this year.

And yes, I’m not letting your death postpone my trip.

I know you would be so mad if I pushed it off to another year. I’m more scared now than ever to go on this adventure but I feel as though I have to do it. And dad, every step I take will be for you. All my life I’ve always wanted to be just like you. Ever since hearing about your 1980 thru-hike I’ve wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail and I’m going to do everything I can to make it the whole way. I’m so fortunate to have had a father like you to look up to. Thank you for teaching me to be adventurous, brave, and to follow my dreams. I love you so much daddy and I promise to make you proud.
– Kirsten, “Shutterbug”

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Comments 18

  • Stubbs : Jan 22nd

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss Kirsten! I didn’t know your father well, but he was a very kind man who helped a lot of hikers out last year. I’m sure he’ll be with you every step of the way, although you’ll never be alone. Keep your head up! My condolences to you and your whole family. See you out there!

    Reply
    • Kirsten : Jan 23rd

      Thank you so much <3

      Reply
  • Claudia Wilson : Jan 22nd

    Your sensitive and thoughtful heartfelt prose are a reflection of your beautiful father/daughter bond, a treasure that will carry you through difficult days and heighten the joyful times that will also be in your future.

    Your hike will be all the more meaningful and emotional and I will think if you often ❤️

    Reply
    • Kirsten : Jan 23rd

      Thank you <3

      Reply
  • Zach : Jan 23rd

    Kristen- I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. I’m terribly sorry for your loss. The Trail has supernatural healing properties and I’m so happy to learn that you’re sticking with your thru. Pops will most certainly be with you every step of the way.

    Much love,
    Zach

    Reply
    • Kirsten : Jan 23rd

      Thank you Zach <3

      Reply
  • Scott Herndon : Jan 24th

    Thanks for sharing your story, sorry for your loss and wishing you a magical trip on the trail full of healing and peace. I’ll be out there to doing a Nobo flip flop thru hike starting from Tennessee in April.

    Reply
    • Kirsten Fraude : Feb 9th

      Thank you! Maybe we’ll run into each other at some point!

      Reply
  • mike : Jan 24th

    Kirsten, i am sorry about your Dad! The At is a great expereince and I feel that you always leave part of your Self and Soul there in some maybe unexplainable way . Been fortunate to have hiked the aT 3 x during the 1980’s and try to get back as much as possible to source. The AT is a great place to help heal and process some of your grief among many caring people and help you clarify what you want to do post college. I hope that you can be able to have some solitude along the way. There will be others here processing grief for a variety of reasons. Your father’s spirit was and is a part of the AT-his desire to help others was just a part of his lifeling commitment. Take Care, 2Spirits

    Reply
    • Kirsten Fraude : Feb 9th

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Trevor Foote "Ranger" : Jan 25th

    I met you and your father briefly in Ft. Montgomery, NY at the northern edge of the zoo. If memory serves I hitched a ride with ya over to or from bear mountain pizza, I don’t remember which it was. Your father was a good man, I could see that with just one brief passing. He had that hiking spirit, tlan enthusiasm for life that makes the trail such a wonderful place to be. I’m incredibly sorry for your loss…I wish you the best of luck with your hike, and I hope the woods provide you with some solace. You’re gonna crush that hike, don’t sweat it

    Reply
    • Kirsten Fraude : Feb 9th

      Thank you so much! I remember you! My dad asked you to take a photo of us, Vino, & Norway and you turned the camera around to take a selfie of everyone haha. He was so happy to be able to help out all the hikers this past summer even if it was just giving a ride.

      Reply
  • Dennis : Jan 25th

    Kirsten, thank you for sharing thoughts of your father with us. As the father of a 17 year old daughter, I found your words very touching. I’m sure your father is very proud of you and will be with you every step of the way. The two of you have inspired me to make time for more hikes with my own daughter.

    Reply
    • Kirsten Fraude : Feb 9th

      I’m so glad my letter made you want to get outdoors with your daughter! I’m sure she will cherish the memories of your hikes as much as I cherish my hikes with my father. They’re definitely some of my fondest memories.

      Reply
  • April Lawson : Jan 25th

    Your story touches my heart. I just recently lost my dad and wish I could take one more hike with him. He taught me backpacking from a very small age and hiked up to his death. I miss him so much. Wishing you all the luck on your trip.

    Reply
    • Kirsten Fraude : Feb 9th

      Thank you. I’m so sorry. I would do anything just to go on one more hike with my dad so I know exactly how you feel.

      Reply
  • Lylea : Jan 25th

    Kirsten, I know you can do it!!! you had the best teacher and he’s going to be right there with you!!! keep in touch!!

    Reply
    • Kirsten Fraude : Feb 9th

      Thank you!!

      Reply

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