Kula Adventure Blog - Meet Kathleen Ruland... mom, backpacker and ultra runner

Kula Adventure Blog - Meet Kathleen Ruland... mom, backpacker and ultra runner

Hey Kula community! This week's Adventure Blog feature is pretty personal to me, because I'm featuring my mom, Kathleen Ruland.  

I've known my mom since, well, forever - ha! My mom played a huge role in my own love of adventure - from a young age, she encouraged us to spend most of our time outside. My mom was my ride to and from Hopewell Furnace National Historic site when I became a volunteer at age 12... she planned epic family vacations that revolved entirely around visiting National Parks... and she taught me that the wilderness was a place that accepted me exactly for who I was. 

Many years ago, I took my mom on her very first backpacking trip. She has since gone on to backpack across Iceland, the Wonderland Trail (around Mt. Rainier), the Grand Canyon, and in the Sierras. She hikes and explores more than anybody I know and I always look forward to our annual backpacking trip.

When I left my job as a BNSF Police Officer to become a full time entrepreneur, my mom never had a shadow of a doubt that I could create something beautiful - she has supported my dreams every single step of the way, and I simply could not be more honored to be her daughter.

You can read a longer piece that I wrote about my mom here on my personal blog.  

I'm so proud to have my mom on the blog today, and I hope that you are inspired by her wisdom and her fearless attitude towards aging and adventure.

Love you, mom!

-Anastasia Allison, Founder 



1. Who are you and what excites you the most in life?

My name is Kathleen Ruland and I am a 62 year old mother of three adult daughters. There are many things that excite me in life. Spending time with my daughters, going for my daily run, playing with my grandkids are some things I look forward to and always enjoy. If there is one standout activity in my life that excites me it would have to be going on backpacking trips! Being in the back country is definitely where I feel most myself and at peace. Experiencing new places is very exciting!



2. What does Leave No Trace mean to you? Why is it so important? 


The principal of Leave no Trace is a way we learn to look at the natural world and how we feel a oneness with it and in turn respect it by leaving it the way we found it...or better. 


3. You started backpacking after you raised all three of your daughters. Tell us about the experience of trying something new at a time in life when many people (falsely) believe that they are 'too old' for new things. What advice would you have for somebody that feels the call to try something new but feels fear?  


My first backpacking trip was about 10 years ago when I was 52. [You] My daughter, Anastasia, took me to the Enchantments. I had done plenty of hiking and car camping but backpacking was a totally new and scary experience. I’ll admit I had plenty of doubts popping into my head as we began out ascent of Aasgard Pass. Was I strong enough? Could I really manage to carry this heavy pack for the next several days? Even with all my daughter’s reassurance I still struggled with a little fear. Luckily, I was able to debunk most of my negative thinking and fear, which allowed me to not only enjoy the experience, but fall in love with backpacking as well. I believe a little fear can be a good thing in that it keeps us aware of our surroundings and is a natural way our brains protect us from accidents and predators. Whenever trying new things we need to be open to advice and committed to acquire the skill set necessary to be successful. With the right mindset and experience we can all try new adventures.



4. I heard a rumor that you've run some ultra marathons and even walked across the state of Maryland. Tell us about your fitness regimen - how do you stay in shape for hiking and backpacking? 


I have run 5 ultra marathons and I have a pretty consistent exercise regimen. I run between 6-10 miles a day, try and hike at least once a week....rain, shine or snow, and do light weight bearing exercises using 10&15 lb weights. I struggled with health issues due to Lyme disease many years ago and running and hiking brought me back from the brink of disability. My consistency is a reflection of my knowledge of what it takes for me to stay healthy.


5. 'Kula' means community. What does it mean to be a part of the outdoor community? 


Being part of the outdoor community is very important to me. I belong to a local hiking club in MD that is also a service organization. We help maintain a section of the Appalachian Trail in PA as well as offer volunteer hours for local National Patks to help work on their trails. I also think sharing information about trips with groups online is an excellent way to connect with like minded outdoor lovers. This summer I will be spending 5 days on a houseboat in Glen Canyon Recreational Area as part of the Trash Tracker Program helping to clean trash from the shoreline of Lake Powell. We can all play a part in the outdoor community while we hike by practicing good trail etiquette and packing out what we brought in.



6. As a parent, you spent a lot of time taking your three girls outside (and I know this, because I was one of them). Tell us about the challenges and rewards of raising children with a sense of adventure and exploration.  


I did raise three girls who I am happy to say ALL love the outdoors. To be honest I did not find it challenging. I think children naturally feel comfortable and curious in the outdoors. I had always known this feeling from personal experience because I struggled with social anxiety as a child. As a military brat I attended 19 schools before high school so I often felt self conscious beginning another new school. Being in the outdoors, on my own wandering, always felt safe. I saw that my own children naturally got that. All I had to do was come up with fun things to do and let them explore.



7. Any parting words of wisdom or advice for the Kula Community? Anything else you'd like to share?  


You’re never too old to learn something new or teach someone else something new! Sharing experiences with others is really what a good life is all about.
If you'd like to leave a message for Kathleen, simply do so in the comments below, or send a message to Kula Cloth and we will forward it to her!  


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