A tribute to Kat ‘Hummingbird’ Davis

You will recall that Kat did a lot of hiking with KC along the PCT back in 2015. In July 2019, they did their last hike together – the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – to, I should add, an insane schedule.

This is KC’s beautiful tribute to Kat:

To my friend Kat,

You stuck out in your pink shirt, light blue jacket, and colorful hat on that cold, grey day in California, but it was your warmth and playful spirit that caught my attention the most. I only saw you briefly that day when we both stopped at that spring to get water. Though separate travelers at that point, we kept running into each other along the Pacific Crest Trail. Then over the next few months on the trail, you transformed from a stranger into one of my best friends. It is uncharacteristic of me to meet someone and instantly want to be their friend, but that’s what happened when I met you.

I began entering some stories about you in my trail journal and before long I was making daily entries about the stranger on the trail who had become a friend by making the middle of nowhere become a place that felt like it was home.

Our adventure out west ended, and we parted ways. Then you started filling the front of my refrigerator door with postcards letting me know you were taking me with you as you continued new hikes. Even when you were thousands of miles away, you would fill me with hope when I would call you at all hours after a breakup, bad job, and all the highs and lows in between. My mind is now filling with thoughts of you and here are some of the things that I knew about you.

You had a poster of your celebrity crush Jason Donovan when you were a girl. I looked him up, and I kind of get it now.

You would choose Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything for Love if you had to sing a karaoke duet. We debated whether this qualified as a true duet since the lead female vocalist doesn’t even come into the song until minute four. I know this because you made me listen to it. I’ll quit arguing on this one and let you have it.

You admitted you weren’t the best singer, but you didn’t let that stop you. When my headphones broke with many miles left to go, you sang to me. I wish I could hear you sing to me now.

You fancied fine gin and port, but you would drink from a muddy, frog-infested puddle if you had to.

You loved pink champagne chocolate truffles, but you would eat tortillas that fell in the dirt.

You didn’t like it when I used the term trash can to refer to a rubbish bin, but I continued to say, “Trash.” You continued to correct me.

You were lactose intolerant. Sometimes I felt like you would order an ice cream cone just to make me nervous as you well knew that I knew, it was a bad idea.

You could recite nearly every line in the movie Top Gun. I witnessed it.

You educated me on Australian slang. You were a real ripper!

You would try and imitate my Midwest accent, and it would always come out as a strange Southern Texas drawl.

You were charming. We made a bet once that you couldn’t get a luxury vehicle to pick you up and give you a lift while looking as one does after having lived in the wilderness for days. A few minutes later, you were in the back seat of a BMW leaving me in the dust with a confused smile on my face. I don’t know how you did it, but I still owe you 20 bucks.

You were kind. When I felt low and started to tear up, you stopped, then sat with your back pressed up against mine so I could ugly cry to my heart’s content until I was ready to start moving again.

You were caring. When you noticed I was too tired to do anything but go to sleep after a particularly hard day of hiking, you boiled water and made me one of your meals, so I didn’t go to bed hungry.

You were stubborn. When my blisters got so bad and I could barely walk, you refused to go further until I took care of myself. Then, you proceeded to give me a fresh pair of your socks to wear.

You were strong. When you rolled your ankle in the Sierras, I thought your journey might be over. You kept on and beat our hiking group to the top of the mountain pass the following day.

You were humble. After you beat us to the summit, you thought it must have been some sort of conspiracy and that we all let you win. We didn’t.

You had a fear of spiders, so you preferred to not sleep without the protection of a tent. But when we got into camp late one night and there was only one tent spot left, you insisted that I roll out my sleeping bag and then you set your sleeping bag right next to mine and we slept under the stars.

You made me laugh. When the days got too hot in California, we thought we would try walking at night to help cover distance more comfortably. Shortly after we’d start walking into the dark, you would get startled by a stick or something in the middle of the trail. This would result in a scream, then a laugh, and an inevitable snort which would cause us both to be hunched over in tears trying to catch our breath from laughing so hard. We’d start moving again, but it would always be quickly interrupted by another scream and then laughing snort. Night hiking was a short-lived venture. We stopped after only a few attempts.

You were excited by the world. I can still hear you hollering under the Oregon night sky like a big kid as we watched the Perseids meteor shower. We nearly lost our voices and joked about how the poor guy camped a mile back probably got as little sleep as we did but without the great show. I’ll be hollering twice as loud at the sky for the both of us every August when the meteors come back around.

You wanted Beyoncé’s song, I Was Here, to be a reminder of you. You played this song for me one evening as we walked through the woods. A deer wandered out in front of us and the three of us just stared at each other listening. You and I joked that it was the magic of Beyoncé, but it very well could have just been you.

You were a talented photographer. I often teased you for stopping to take pictures of rocks or moss, but somehow you made even these things seem spectacular when at first glance I saw nothing that amazed me.

You were a great writer. I wish I could write as well, especially now as I’m writing this.

You always gave me a hard time for not following your blog. My excuse was that I loved hearing about your adventures from you directly, and I did. Now I find myself going through each page. I can imagine the grin this would have put on your face.

You were a wonderful friend. When I was distraught and called you at midnight while you were on vacation and already in bed, you picked up the phone anyway. You insisted that I wasn’t bothering you. To prove it, you offered to hold up the phone up so I could hear Howard snoring in the background to show me that I wasn’t interrupting you or anyone else. We talked for over an hour and at the end you had me smiling.

You were forgiving. You reached out to me after our journey along the PCT ended in a silly fight. We gained an understanding for each other and never once fought in the 4 years that followed. If you hadn’t done that, I would have missed out on one of the greatest friendships of my life.

You took time to stop and enjoy things instead of rushing past. Last July we went on a walk in Wales. The weather was unusually sunny and warm the whole trip until the last full day of hiking when it rained on us. The rain lifted and the sun came out long enough for us to see it go down. I probably would have walked on by had you not pleaded with me to stop and watch the sunset with you. I’m glad I did. It was a beautiful, orange glow that glittered out from the horizon across the water stretching right towards us. I won’t forget that moment. That was the last evening we walked together.

You were good-natured. We walked through heavy wind, rain, lightning, and hail. No matter the storm, you could always flash a smile in the worst of situations. I always felt safe with you. I wish we could have weathered this last storm together.

You were brave traveling the world, always searching for answers and learning about yourself. You were one of the favorite people in my world.

You were so many things. I loved you.

I wish that everyone could have known you. I won’t forget that you were here. Everyone in my life will know you were here too. I’m going to cover people’s refrigerator doors with postcards. I’m going to be braver, kinder, and more forgiving. I’m going to try and be all the things you were to me.

Your friend always,

KC

10 responses to “A tribute to Kat ‘Hummingbird’ Davis

  1. You miss me , Kat! I just received a mail notification about that post and for a moment I think , “ Ooo Kat is here again “, but unfortunately not , Rest In Peace , dear Kat . Always I will remember you with a smile 🙂

    Dear KC,

    Please think about it to organize someday, somewhere a photo exhibition “ Following the Arrows “ with all the beautiful photos which Kat took it and share it with us here and after that we follow her steps .

    It will be a memorable event and will bring together all of Kat’s friends on one place .

    Bobby from Bulgaria

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, KC, for letting us, who didn’t know Kat but wish we did, into your world. For just a minute, I could hear you laughing, crying, singing and hollering.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved KC’s tribute to Kat, and though I was only acquainted with Kat via email I felt such a profound sense of loss when I heard word of her passing. I don’t know what took her vibrant life so early. That thought has haunted me. I simply hope she left this world in her sleep dreaming of being in some magical place on a serene trail running to a point to capture the next photo of whatever captivated her. I loved her spirit, her inquisitiveness and her sense of adventure. What a precious friendship KC and Kat shared. She indeed exemplified the best friend anyone could have. How lucky your paths crossed and how special it was that you were able to cross paths together in 2019. Kat walks in the hearts of many trekkers. Mine for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat’s passing is such a tragedy. Even though we never met, I felt like a friend as I followed her every step via her blog and chatted through her adventures. I obviously did not know her well enough to know about her greatest challenge. A beautiful life cut way too short. The next big walk I do, I will walk in her honor. Mel

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, KC for your loving tribute to Kat Davis. She was a very special person. I only knew her through her emails which I looked forward to with the enthusiasm. She loved life and Nature and the people .
    I miss her.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you KC for a heartfelt tribute to your dear friend and some of the happy memories shared.
    Personally I am devastated by this news and never met her, I cannot imagine the pain her nearest and dearest must be going through….my condolences and RIP Hummingbird

    Like

  7. Kat’s blog got me started on my first walk. Her posts kept me company before I fell asleep camping out. She took time to respond to messages. Thank you for this beautiful summary KC. I’m glad she met her mark on someone who will carry the best parts of her forward.

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  8. What?! She’s gone! I had no idea, but then, of course, I only knew her from her blog. Several years ago after returning from the Camino I was searching the net and found Following the Arrows and have lived vicariously through her posts ever since. She introduced me to the music of Ludovico Einaudi through one of her videos as well as many trails I’d never heard of. Such an incredibly adventurous person! I will miss hearing of her adventures! She truly seemed to live her life fully.
    Thank you KC for your lovely tribute.

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  9. I am so overwhelmed with emotions. You summed up this most beautiful lady so eloquently! I enjoyed the time on the trail with Kat and Shepard and the gang in 2015. What an amazing spirit and kindness she had. I hiked with Hummingbird and Lady’s Man through Rainer and witnessed her laughter and zest for life. Lady’s Man taught us the finer art of feeding birds from our hands. Bird seed of course! We had a beautiful day together. I know you two had a special bond. Until we all meet again, God bless our special friend. Thank you for bringing her into our hearts one more time! Wonderfully stated.

    Like

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