About Me

I grew up hiking in Oregon and Maryland. When I moved to Georgia, I explored the Bartram Trail, Foothills Trail and the AT.

I set off on my first long-distance hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. A stress fracture forced me off the trail at Tuolumne Meadows but I healed and got back on the trail to complete another 560 miles. In 2016, I returned to section hike another 300 miles of Washington and Oregon. Hiking 1800 miles on the PCT taught me what it means to find success.

After my PCT experience, I decided to take a different path with my life and help other connect to nature so I joined AmeriCorps. I served two year in Montana State Parks and explored northwestern Montana.

Working and volunteering in parks has allowed me to spend seasons in New Mexico and Utah.

Currently, I am spending the summer in Kentucky.

Here are some other things about me:

-I am known for my ability to spot tiny, inconspicuous flowers.  I aspire to being a naturalist when I'm on the trail but am horrible at memorizing scientific names.

-Before the PCT, I was an evolutionary biologist and studied the genetics of speciation in plants and insects.

-I hiked with and led wildflower hikes and beginner backpacking trips for Trail Dames when I lived in Georgia. This group provides a supportive environment for women who have not felt welcome in mainstream groups because of their speed, age, or fitness level.  I learned from these amazing women how to slow down and have more fun.
-I sew my own quilts and hiking clothes.

-In March of 2015, I hiked 300 miles of the Arizona Trail.

My writing featured on other sites:

     Pacific Crest Trail Association-   It's not all about the thru-hike: A Walking Meditation
     Pacific Crest Trailside Reader- Cougar!
     Gossamer Gear-   Skills and Techniques for the Arizona Trail
     Gossamer Gear-   Joan's Sierra Gear List
     Gossamer Gear-   Easy Foot Care for Hiking

My favorite posts...
      How to have a successful hike - the biggest lesson I learned on the PCT
      The Thing about Montana - what it feels like to hike solo in Montana
      Backpacking Solo
      Trail Dames Beginner Backpacking Trip - what teaching backpacking skills means to me
      No New Gear - a year-long experiment  
      Three Months of Two Miles - appreciating the trail outside your backdoor 
Most popular posts...

     Umbrella rigging - how to attach your hiking umbrella to your pack
     Beginner's Guide to Going Stoveless - backpacking without a stove
     Stress fractures- a guide for backpackers
     Gear Review for the PCT- pack, hydration system, stoveless kitchen, electronics, etc. 


  1. Well it's pretty much snowing in Oregon, where on the PCT did you do your training hike in the rain? PCTJim

  2. Hi PCTJim- Ah, sorry I didn't make the location of the training hike more clear- I just edited it. :) I'm still in Georgia, so I do my training hikes to get ready for a PCT hike in 2014 around here in GA for now. Enjoy that snow out there in Oregon!

  3. Have an amazing journey Joan and don't forget (especially on those days when you're asking yourself why the hell you're doing this) that our more-than-human community will always show you exactly what you need to learn in that moment. Nature is amazing that way, and I know you understand this.

    ~Michele "Certain"

    1. Wise advice, Michele. Thanks so much for the encouragement and the reminder to trust that I can keep learning by being open even through the difficulties. It's sometimes so easy to loose sight of that, but I'll do my best to keep that perspective. :)

  4. Geez, Joan, you went through Utah but didn't visit me -- after I followed your blog all summer. Sigh!

    1. Watch out! I'm still unemployed and couch-surfing- might be going back through Utah again...

  5. Hey Joan,
    What are you doing in Kentucky?
    You haven't posted in a while and I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms.
    I left my home town of London Ky, 41 years ago for the upstate of SC and never looked back.
    I hope to see you in this neck of the woods again some day.