About Me

I grew up hiking in Oregon and went to Maryland for grad school near the Appalachian Trail and started leading hikes for Washington Women Outdoors.  When I moved to Georgia, I discovered an amazing community in Trail Dames, also took up solo backpacking, and section hiked the Bartram Trail, Foothills Trail and the AT in GA.

I set off on my first long-distance hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in April of 2014.  I had to get off the trail at Tuolumne Meadows for a stress fracture in my foot that I got going through the snow in the high Sierra, but I got back on the trail and completed another 560 miles.  Hiking 1500 miles on the PCT was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and taught me what it means to find success.

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

I served two year with Montana State Parks AmeriCorps and explored northwestern Montana and Glacier National Park.

Currently, I am setting out to hike the PCT in Washington and Oregon.

Here are some other things about me:

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

-I am an evolutionary biologist, but most of my training has been in the lab where I studied the genetics of speciation.

-I hike with and lead wildflower hikes and beginner backpacking trips for Trail Dames.  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’ve learned from these amazing women how to slow down and have more fun.
-I sew my own quilts and hiking clothes.  Store-bought clothes are too boring and never have enough color.

-When not hanging from the trees in my hammock, I take lessons in trapeze and aerial fabrics.

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
2nd DIY Karo Top Quilt
Backpacking Solo
Canyonlands National Park - 3 nights backpacking in the Needles District in Utah
    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
    Ten Steps to Hiking in Grizzly Country
Most popular posts...

     Umbrella rigging - how to attach your hiking umbrella to your pack
     The Thing about Montana - what it feels like to hike solo in Montana
     Apps for long-distance backpacking - apps I used on the PCT
     Stress fractures- a guide for backpackers
     Tree Foam- I LOVE finding tree foam- learn what it is and how to find it on the trail
     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...