The Journey Takes a New Direction

Our backpacks were packed and waiting by the door, stuffed full of hiker food and clean clothes and dirty gear. Storytime was in the shower and I was savoring the last few moments I had left, laying on a soft and comfy bed before check-out time at 11 a.m in our hotel in South Lake Tahoe. Storytime emerged from the bathroom, looking like there was something on his mind.

“What’s up?” I asked.

He looked me dead in the eye and he said, “I don’t want to deprive you of a thru-hike, because it’s an experience I’ve already had, and you haven’t. But if you wanted to get off trail and move to Portland today, I would do it.”

I started to laugh it off, but then I stopped. He was serious. We’ve been talking about moving to Portland after the trail, for months now. I’ve been joking about how we should just pull the trigger and do it now. All the time, we meet people from Portland and they rave about how great it is. Storytime has never been there, and I’ve only spent a grand total of three days there myself, but it seemed like the right place for us.

Problem is, if we hiked the rest of the Pacific Crest Trail and hit the border by late September, we wouldn’t have the funds left to start our lives together. Storytime would be heading back to New York and me, back to Boise–an inevitability neither of us wanted to face.

So we got some coffee and we talked about it. Then we got a pizza. By the time the check came, we were decided. We took an Uber to the rental car lot and rented a very expensive car from Enterprise and we popped our backpacks in the trunk and we turned the ignition and we started driving.


Our first stop: Boise. We drove through the Nevada desert, through the night and arrived at my mom’s house around 2 in the morning on Saturday, July 16. We spent a few days in Boise, collecting a few non-hiking clothes, scouring Craigslist for apartments in Portland and sleeping off three months of hiking.

On Wednesday, July 20, we loaded up my Subaru Outback with the bare essentials and made the leap to Portland, Oregon. That was almost two weeks ago, and it’s been a whirlwind since. We looked at several apartments all over the city and got caught in terrible traffic and signed a lease for the most perfect studio in Northwest Portland and made about a million trips to Target and Home Depot. I had a job interview with Sit Means Sit dog training and I have another one tomorrow. We painted the main room a pleasant light brown, we scored a free bed frame and mattress from Storytime’s friend, Adam. We made our first trip ever to IKEA and Storytime installed curtains on the windows and contact paper in the cabinets. We take Marcy for a walk around our new neighborhood every morning.


As we settle into our new lives here in Portland, I do not miss the Pacific Crest Trail. I didn’t know that July 13 would be my last day on trail–almost exactly three months from the day I began. I also didn’t know I would meet the love of my life. I didn’t know I would start a new life in Portland. When I took my first steps on the trail on April 12, I didn’t know what my journey would hold, but I wouldn’t change a single second of it.

Sometimes I ask Storytime if we failed, because we only walked 1,065.5 miles, rather than the full 2,660.

“No,” he always tells me, “because we didn’t quit on a bad day. We didn’t let the trail beat us. Besides, we’re going to finish it.”

A tremendous thank-you to all the people who helped make my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail possible. To my mom, of course, for her unwavering support. To my grandmother, for keeping Marcy and for making countless trips to REI and the post office so I could have everything I needed on the trail. To Idahoan Foods, for some 70 packets of instant mashed potatoes and a handsome sponsorship, too. To all the people who added songs to my Spotify playlist–you have no idea how much that helped push me through hard times on the trail. To my dad, to my best friend Tessa, to my colleagues at the Boise Weekly for letting me take the time off to walk the PCT, and for being so understanding when I called and told them of my new adventure in Portland.


And to everyone who has read and commented on my blog as this journey progressed. Those comments made my day, everyday.

Rest assured, this story will be resurrected when our PCT adventure continues. For now, we will shift, from Storytime and Dirty Paws, to Brian and Jessica.



13 thoughts on “The Journey Takes a New Direction

  1. I am so proud of you for the 1065 miles you finished! It made you an even stronger, even smarter, even braver, even more detetermined person than you already were! And I’m so excited for your new life in Portland! I know you’ll find success & happiness on this new path.
    I love you,

  2. Jessica, I have been following your story since I was told of you making this trek. I don’t know you but I have loved reading of your adventures and struggles and triumphs. You pulled me in with your writing from the very beginning. Good job on every bit of your adventure. I’m impressed by your strength and your perseverance and by your ability to make a choice that took you away from the path you were on to follow a different one. Sometimes, you just have to trust in those choices and know that it is the right path for you now

  3. You have to always always Hike your own hike and this new life of yours is an adventure is it not? I am proud for what you did, you will finish it my dear, you will. I will start next year in April on the PCT, until then I wish you both the very best! Love Mig Whitt On facebook as Happy Camper Girl.

  4. I was so happy to get to see you for a little while. We are very happy for you and Brian and hope to occasionally see you in Portland or Vancouver. Sounds like the apt is it by “trendy 23rd”? Glad you have Marcy with you again…as I’m sure all three of you are. Guess I’ll change the sheets in the trailer now since you’re all settled in and cozy! I think you have Larry’s phone # so call us occasionally…let’s go out one night, OK? Love you, Aunt Marsy

  5. Life is short and uncertain. Take every opportunity for happiness even if it comes at strange times and out of the blue. No regrets!

  6. It was awesome to meet the two of you (and Marcy in Warner Springs and Julian!), and to read about the trail from your perspective. I’m sure you’ll love Portland, I have many friends there who also rave about the place all the time. Good luck on the next chapter of your lives!

  7. Thanks for taking us on the adventure! It was fun to “hike” with you! Portland is a great place with wonderful people and beautiful views. Hope you can get to Olympic someday too.
    Enjoy! Cousin Diane (Annapolis, MD)

  8. We are so blessed to have made your acquaintance. God had this planned all along for the both of you. Much happiness on the next trek of your lives. Ps. Walter says something about forest gump? 😊 much love from Ridgecrest.
    Walter, Franki& Cherub

  9. Congratulations every which way!! Happy for you re every mile of trail and happy for you re Portland and all that is new and wonderful. Peace, love, smiles. Was camping the last few days and had rain on the roof. Rain on the roof is a big deal for someone who lives in drought. You will have rain and fish and flowers and lots of celebrations and more than a few different challenges. May it all of well.

  10. Many happy wishes to you & Brian as you take a new path & start a new chapter on your wonderful adventure together.
    Life is good……

  11. Few things are better than an unexpected ending! Thank you for sharing your story and enjoy your new “trail”!

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