About Me

I grew up romping in the woods of Oregon. My curiosity for plants and insect led me to graduate school where I studied evolutionary biology and the genetics of speciation.

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 Washington and Oregon. The PCT taught me what it means to find success.

After my PCT experience, I wanted to help others connect with nature. So I pursued my dream of becoming a park ranger. I got my start by joining AmeriCorps and serving two years with Montana State Parks and though a SCA position at Arches National Park.

Currently, I live and work in SE Utah.

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
      About that dream you have- life lessons
      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. 

Disclaimer: This blog reflects my personal opinions and not the views of the National Park Service or any of my other past or current employers. 


  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.


    1. Hi Swampfox! Sorry for the late reply. I was working at Mammoth Cave over the summer. I got pretty close to London, KY when I went out to the Natural Arch Scenic Area, Cumberland Falls, and the Beaver Creek Wilderness. Nice to see the rhododendrons and mountain laurel in bloom. I was sorry I didn't make it to GA/SC this summer but hopefully some other time!