Hi there! I am Katrina Hemingway, a fundraiser, author, avid hiker, reluctant camper, obsessed golfer, distracted mother and wife, reliable and trustworthy friend, a typical A personality, and a type 1 diabetic. 

In the hiking world, people call me “Kit Kat”, for Killing IT KATrina, because most of the time I do. Life’s too short to worry if you have the skills or resilience to tackle new challenges. Start somewhere and you will develop them.

I hope it inspires you to get outside and enjoy life. For me, embracing nature was wonderfully healing. However, it was my interactions with the many interesting people I met along the way that made my PCT journey truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Always remember to photograph them as much as the epic landscapes. After all, it’s these colourful human beings who helped me feel alive, connected, and understood.

Cosy Cat, Kit Kat, and Cat near Stevens Pass, Washington

Told with brutal honesty and humour, my Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) story invites armchair readers, hikers, and adventure seekers to experience the delight and tension of every step as if you are on the trail. Be scared as my partner and I hike one of America’s most spectacular and treacherous long-distance trails. Laugh out loud at our gutsy antics and astute observations. Feel our pain as our bodies collapse. As we scramble to find water and safe shelter. And watch emotions run wild as tensions mount and motivation fades.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you. 

You want to know more about me?

I was born in Sydney. I have always wanted to write a book since I was a young girl, but what lay beyond our backyard fence constantly distracted me. Backing onto Lane Cove National Park, my two sisters and I spent countless weekends and school afternoons bashing our way through eucalypt forests and forging our own tracks. We found creeks full of tadpoles and carnivorous lace monitor tree lizards, which had us screaming in terror and delight. We scrambled up precarious rock faces, stood triumphant at the top and shouted our names out loud, breathlessly awaiting the valley’s echoed response. Then back to the trees to collect cicadas from the trunks while they pelted us with pee. There were plenty of the smaller Black Prince varieties, the ones with red eyes, but we loved rushing home to show Mum our favourite and most prized catches–the yellow Mondays and Green Grocers.    

Fast forward 30 years. After a Bachelor of Arts (History and Australian Literature) and a series of interesting sales jobs, I am married with two children and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Ten years later, my husband gets Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Thoughts of writing a book and exploring the bush take a backseat to life’s new challenges.

These diseases affect our quality of life, but do they define us? Am I Katrina, the type 1 diabetic or “Kit Kat”, the Killing IT KATrina adventurer? Most definitely the latter. Mike’s MS diagnosis is worrisome. His symptoms are debilitating. I am fit and I manage my condition well. It is time to give back to those less fortunate than myself. Time to return to nature and have people pay me as I walk in the great outdoors for others. I embrace the opportunity to fundraise for people living with another auto-immune disease. 

How I started long distance hiking

In 2008, I complete one of the world’s toughest trails, the 96km Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, with my best friend. Between us, we had zero hiking and camping experience. Seasoned hikers ridiculed us for attempting a hike beyond our skill level. “Pfft” was our silent reaction. We’ll find a way, but we heeded their advice and trained for 18 months on difficult graded walks to prepare ourselves.

The Kokoda Track wasn’t easy, and we struggled in sections. Instead of throwing in the towel, we accepted help from our Papua New Guinea porters and “embraced the suck”. They taught us new skills, and our fitness levels improved over the walk’s duration. 

We raised A$33,000 for MS Research Australia for our efforts.

In the next ten years, I arrange three more long-distance charity walks for MS Research Australia – the Mudgee to Sydney (M2S) Walk in NSW, Australia; Wainwright’s Coast to Coast (C2C) Walk in England and The Pennine Way in England. 

Together these walks raised another $400,000 for continued research into finding a cure for MS.

In 2014, MS Australia jointly awarded my husband, Mike, and me, their most prestigious John Studdy Award for our ongoing contribution to MS research.  

After hankering to write a book over 40 years ago, I land my dream job as a sales representative for HarperCollins Publishers. I get paid to read the next best-sellers months in advance, and I spend hours advising booksellers on which books their readers will crave and adore. I write several commended book reviews on the Goodreads website.

But as a long-distance hiker or thru hiker, as they commonly call us, I have an incurable wish to seek longer distance hikes. I cannot help myself. After walking the Pennine Way in July 2018, my longest challenge to-date at 430kms, I yearn for a longer walk. Should I consider walking ten times this distance at 4,300kms? Is it even possible?

I discover the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in the Pacific North West of America, which travels through three states–California, Oregon, and Washington–starting at Campo on the Mexican border and finishing at Manning Park just inside the Canadian border. It is reputedly one of the most magnificent, yet hardest walks in the entire world. I find Helen Shepherd from the UK, also a type 1 diabetic, who is keen to walk it too.

On this occasion, we fundraise for Diabetes Australia and Diabetes UK. The PCT walk is an immense challenge, especially for diabetics. We had every confidence in our ability to inspire others to accept similar challenges in their lives without fear or hesitancy, one step at a time. The pull of another epic long-distance journey is too strong, and in April 2019 I reluctantly leave my dream job. Instead of selling other people’s adventures, it is time for my own.

The PCT hike was difficult. Logistics and safe planning were overwhelming. The dangers were deadly. We had to contend with rattlesnakes, mountain lions, black bears, snow, thunderstorms, desert heat, bridgeless river crossings and multiple injuries. Hefty daily distances of 25-32kms, to complete the trail in six months, were ridiculous goals. 

I look forward to sharing my story with you, the book I have wanted to write for such a long time. It is a story of two courageous healthy women who do not let age or diabetes dampen their hiking passion. Using every bit of wisdom, guile, guts, tenacity, and ingenuity we stay together on the Pacific Crest Trail for an astounding 152 days. Come with me and discover the restorative powers of nature and the beauty of untamed wilderness beyond everyone’s front door. 

And for a bit of fun

What can’t I live without on the trail? – my Revlon ‘Infinite Raspberry’ shade of lipstick with its 16-hour staying power. I even bring a teensy-weensy piece of hot pink microfibre cloth to wipe it off each night. I could say it is an indispensable lip balm, but I’d be lying. It gives my face colour, helps me look half-decent in a selfie photo, and provides a much-needed boost to the start of each day. 

What do I most dislike doing? – Cooking. I’ll eat most things I’m served. I particularly love eating off someone else’s plate. I will do it under sufferance, but I prohibit people from watching my preparation. I have sliced off so many bits of finger it’s surprising I have any digits left. What brainless git cuts a frozen orange?

What most occupies my time? – I spend plenty of time fighting with my inner voice. Its determination to see me fail rivals my equal commitment to succeed. Despite this, I like the voice. It pushes me to prove its assessment of me is wrong. With its constant chatter, I am never alone. Unless I am outside reconnecting with nature and my mind fills only with positive thoughts.  

Pampering or Comfort? – If I had a choice of the best facial in the world versus getting my hands on the most durable ultralight rain jacket ever made, what do you think I’d choose? No pan flutes, a greasy upright vertical fringe, and post-acne fallout for me. I want my face covered in mud and rain and an impenetrable rain jacket that stretches with me and keeps me snug and warm.   

Getting muddy and dirty at an early age

Obsession – Too many to count, but my collection of baseball caps and socks is most impressive. They cover every colour of the rainbow. I even searched far and wide to find the exact replacement for my Under Armour hot orange hat, which made it through the entire PCT. Sadly, it was a timid apricot colour by the end. And my Injinji toe socks with the Blue Mountain’s Three Sisters design always get a laugh. 

How to find me

I live in Sydney’s northern suburbs with my husband and our very needy, adorable Latin Labradoodle. The kids have flown the coop. I am surrounded by bushland which I love to explore, my local golf course, and at my bedside a mountain of books ready for me to devour.

I am an associate member of the Adventure Travel Trade Associate and Australian Society of Authors. I approach everything I do with great focus, guts, and determination, as I work to inspire others to find purpose and meaning in their lives.

This blog has revitalized my desire to write, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you. Please read my other adventures and blog posts, which hopefully will inspire you to embrace life’s challenges, possibly take up hiking, and follow your dreams.

At any age