Oldest Female Thru-Hiker

Couple at Hawk RockWhile hiking to Hawk Rock today, I met a young couple sitting on the rock and enjoying the view.  I presented my usual speech about the DATC, what we do, how they could help, and added some general trail info.  While doing this, a lady and her gentleman friend arrived and overheard our conversation.  After I finished talking to the young couple, I turned my attention toward the older hikers.  I was glad they had arrived early enough to hear our conversation so I wouldn’t have to repeat it for them.  I got to talking with the lady in the older group and correctly guessed that she was section-hiking and had come in from the south at Rt. 850.  All of my other assumptions about her were incorrect.

She said she had thru-hiked in the past and that she was in the Duncannon area just finishing a short section that she had missed due to an injury.  Since she was older than me I assumed she had thru-hiked long ago in the past.  Wrong!  If I had to guess, I would have thought she was a healthy retiree maybe about 65 years old.  Wrong!  When she told me she lived in the Harrisburg area, I assumed her gentleman friend was also from the area.  Wrong!  After telling me her trail-name, I called her “Dragon Lady” a few times.  Wrong!

Drag'n Fly at Hawk Rock in Duncannon PA

Her trail-name is “Drag’n Fly” (aka Nan Reisinger), her hiking companion for the day was from Washington state, she is a spry 74 years old, and she will finish thru-hiking (hiking the AT in less than a year) the Appalachian Trail THIS YEAR!  She will complete her last section of the AT this Sunday, October 19th, 2014 at the Appalachian Trail Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, and she will officially be the oldest female to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  Wow!  If you would like to witness history in the making, you might be able to join her on the last leg of her hike or stop in and see her at the AT Museum.

I was fortunate to see Drag’n Fly today due to an unfortunate misstep that caused her to fall and hit her knee on a rock back on July 2nd.  After her fall south of Birch Run Shelter, she took some time off to see a doctor and then got a ride further north to catch up with her hiking companion, Freckles, who had continued ahead on foot. Drag’n Fly was in Duncannon today to finish the short section of Pennsylvania that she missed back in June, then on Sunday she will head to Pine Grove Furnace and hike the last 9 miles of her incredible journey.

Drag'n Fly and Freckles summit Mount Katahdin

While talking to Drag’n Fly, she said climbing Mount Katahdin after 6 months of hiking not only gave her a well-earned sense of accomplishment but a feeling of relief too; it’s nice to wake up and know you don’t have to go hiking unless you want to.

Drag’n Fly is a member of the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club and works as a volunteer at the Appalachian Trail Museum.  I’m sure she would welcome any help you can offer to support either organization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *