I’m a graphic designer and guidebook author based in Portland, Oregon. When I’m not designing websites and marketing materials for clients, I’m diving deep into the details of planning backpacking trips all over the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Combining my photography, map and book design skills with a desire to share my journey with others has led me to creating books about the landscape I love. I’ve self-published three hiking books so far, with more on the way.
In 2007, I moved from Kansas City to Portland with my husband, thinking I was moving here for the city. I didn’t even think about the outdoors other than I’d be close to the coast for the first time in my life.
To get to know our new home, I began collecting all kinds of touristy info, and a brochure for hiking at Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, Oregon got me interested in giving hiking a try. After doing that hike, I fell in love with spending time discovering trails.
Initially, the concept of spending time in the wilderness scared me. There were so many unknowns. I had never hiked until I moved here. I hadn’t even spent that much time outside. And I certainly had never been a strong person. At the age of 22, I had ovarian cancer and it took a toll on my body. That was over 30 years ago and now I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, and I have the wilderness to thank for that.
I started this blog to share my hikes with my friends and family back home in the Midwest, and in 2013 I decided to design a hiking book as a passion project. I’ve been a graphic designer for my entire career, so the book design, map-making and self-publishing were aspects I felt that I could use to tie my love of hiking in with my design skills. I’m also shifting my graphic design client base to be focused on outdoor recreation and the environment so that my work can support organizations protecting the wilderness.
In 2015, I went on my first ever backpacking trip. I’d been leading hiking trips through Meetup for a couple of years, and the women in those groups went to places that I’d never been and didn’t think I was capable of getting to. A friend took me on an easy trip and showed me the ropes, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. In the first five years of backpacking, I’ve led over 45 trips in Oregon and Washington.
To get past the things that make me feel uneasy, I try to learn and practice new skills, including getting certified in wilderness first aid, practicing water crossings, and striving to improve outdoor leadership skills.
I just completed a book about getting started backpacking with a young woman who taught me the basics through a series of beginner backpacking classes. I want to share this experience with more people and give them the skills they need to get out there and discover how empowering the wilderness can be. I love getting stronger every day, and now I can’t imagine life without spending as much time as possible in the backcountry.
I’m starting work on my fourth book – a cookbook for backpackers. I’m co-authoring this book with a friend of mine who is a fantastic cook, a photographer, and a super fun fellow adventurer. We’ll be planning the content and testing recipes on all of our backpacking trips this year.