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About Us

We met in 2009 and quickly learned of our shared love for the wilderness (and for one another).  In 2012, after several years of struggling to scrape together enough vacation time to get outside for an extended period, we quit our desk jobs and completed a thru hike of the 2660-mile Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada. We both found this experience deeply inspiring.

Anna (trail name: North Star) is a Cincinnati, Ohio native who has been hooked on backpacking since a high school Venture Crew trip to Glacier National Park. She is an environmental engineer, writer, and naturalist.

Chris (trail name: Shutterbug) grew up in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania running around in the nearby woods. He is now a professional photographer who strives to communicate the wilderness experience through his art.

Last but not least, our pet bird Cheep Cheep flies along with us. Her goofiness keeps us laughing, even when the trail gets rough.

Why we hike:
● In nature we are free, independent, self-sufficient, and living in the moment.
● The scenery is stunningly beautiful.
● Backpacking is one of the simplest, most environmentally friendly lifestyles possible.
● Walking, breathing fresh air, soaking up sunshine, and being connected with nature keep us in excellent health.
● We spend quality time with each other and make new friends on the trail.
● It’s fun!

Even in cities, our lives are intertwined with the environment and creatures around us. With this blog, we hope to raise awareness of environmental issues and inspire others to protect our planet for future generations.

63 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jean #

    Hey Guys! Here’s the book I was telling you about. The guy is really annoying yet it’s really informative/entertaining about the PCT – a good viewpoint from an amateur. After reading it I was really curious about trying it myself. Good luck with your adventure!

    The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind-and Almost Found Myself-on the Pacific Crest Trail (P.S.)
    by Dan White

    – Jean (from Super Paul’s housewarming)

    August 28, 2011
    • Hey Jean. Thanks for the book suggestion! Although I don’t plan on eating cactus on our trip :-) The Cactus Eaters sounds a bit similar to a Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Have you read that one? I highly recommend. I laughed out loud several times reading it. Great meeting you last night!

      August 29, 2011
  2. Kit #

    Hey Anna and Chris,
    are you currently in Berkeley? It would be awesome to meet up with you in person, and have a trail chat, or area hike! Let me know if you’d be interested,

    Cheers,
    Kit

    November 28, 2011
    • A hike with you and Jacob sounds great! Send me an email.

      November 29, 2011
  3. Anna & Chris: Great photos!! Hope we meet on the trail. Mike

    January 8, 2012
    • Thanks, Mike. Good luck with your planning. Hopefully see you in a couple months!

      January 9, 2012
  4. Wired pointed me toward you just now — I totally forgot that it’s blog season!! Woooohooo! Best of luck to you both on your journey, you’re going to adore the entire experience and I’m so excited to read about it :)
    Cheers, Liz (Class of 2011)

    January 23, 2012
    • Hey Liz, I read Wired’s blog this past summer and I’m guessing you are the Liz she hiked with occasionally and mentioned several times in her journal. Congrats on finishing, especially with all that snow near the end! Thanks for the well wishes. We are stoked and can’t wait to get started!

      January 23, 2012
  5. hikinglovestory #

    Anna & Chris: love your blog and pictures! My husband and I (Mellow & Bandit) are hiking the second half of the trail this year as well! We did the first half in 2010 and we are coming back for more! Its nice to find another hiker blog going in 2012! Maybe we will run into each other… when are you heading off to the trail?

    February 27, 2012
    • Hi Mellow and Bandit, thanks! We are starting from Campo on April 25th or 26th. When will you be starting the second half? Hope we cross paths.

      February 28, 2012
      • hikinglovestory #

        We will be starting at Sonora Pass where we left off in 2010. We have some weddings to attend in July so we will be coming out around July 16th. It should be around where most of the big group is so hopefully we’ll get to meet. If you want to share any ideas about gear, food, etc… we are writing our prep blog right now too in word press: Hiking: A love Story. :)

        February 28, 2012
  6. musing2012 #

    Hi! I just found your blog (via the book review of “Wild”). I thoroughly enjoyed catching up on your plans for your hike–yes, I read from the beginning; that’s the best place to start! While I myself am not a hiker, I do love traveling and am very much into photography. I quite enjoyed your narratives of the various “practice” hikes you’ve taken and (as a history major) love to learn the history of various places like those you’ve visited. I also found Chris’s pictures to be spectacular! Learning about the culture of hiking has been fascinating as well. Who knows, maybe there’s a new hobby in my future! I have subscribed to your blog in order to follow your journey and enjoy the many vistas you may share through your narrative and your photographs. I wish you both luck and safe travels.

    March 25, 2012
    • Wow, we are gratified that you took the time to read everything! It’s so cool that you found so much to enjoy, and some useful information too. One of our primary purposes with the blog is to spread our enthusiasm for the outdoors, and it’s great to hear that came across for you. Thanks for the good wishes and kind words!

      March 26, 2012
  7. skopes #

    Hi Anna, I saw your blog link in the R9 online today and I am so excited for you and your journey! I can’t wait to read all about it! Good luck and have an amazing time!!! I am so jealous!

    April 10, 2012
    • skopes #

      Oops I thought it would show my name but this is Stephanie Skophammer from EPA.

      April 10, 2012
    • Thanks Stephanie! Great to have you following along on the hike!

      April 11, 2012
  8. James owens #

    Dear Anna
    Found your blog and wanted to wish you and Chris well in print. The Southwest always awaits the return of two such gifted visionaries.
    JJO

    April 11, 2012
    • Thanks Jim! Nice talking with you the other night. We are enjoying our stay in Flagstaff right now. We start hiking the PCT soon!

      April 11, 2012
  9. My best wishes to you. Where in Canada will you end up? I can’t imagine hiking…. to me cycling for several weeks where we’re moving faster is more than enough. This year my partner will be cycling solo from Alberta to California..he’s done cross-Canada. All these trips are by himself.

    So strange paths may cross…with you. :) Have a safe and happy journey. You will learn and grow more together on this journey.

    May 31, 2012
    • Thanks! The trail ends 7 miles into Canada, in Manning Park. After that we plan to visit Vancouver. I love what I’ve seen of Canada, including Toronto and Cape Breton as well as Vancouver.

      That would be fun to run into your partner. Bike touring sounds like a great way to travel, as you can see more than you would in a car, but still cover lots of ground.

      June 5, 2012
      • When do you hope to get into Vancouver….next year? :)He will be setting by bike from Alberta towards south to California in a few months.

        June 5, 2012
        • We plan to finish the trail at the end of September, so we’d be in Vancouver just after that. Should be fun!

          June 8, 2012
  10. thanks for this blog…im really enjoying this adventure and now cannot wait to get out into the mountains again….its winter now so not for a few months…….enjoy…ill be watching and chatting …..thats if you dont mind of course……………

    June 1, 2012
    • We are happy to provide you with some entertainment and inspiration during your winter season. We know how that is, to have that itch to get into the mountains, but to have to wait. Hope you don’t have to wait too long!

      June 5, 2012
  11. John Dracup #

    Glad to read that things r going well. Regards, John.

    June 2, 2012
  12. Lori & Joe #

    Hello Northstar. Great to meet you on the trail today. I thought we were adventurous with our little dayhike. WOW though the countrywas spectacular. We will likely return when the wildflowers are going wild. We hope you enjoyed the pretzels and cocoa roasted almonds. Wish we had more goodies than that. Safe journey to you and Shutterbug. Be safe and enjoy God’s beauty. – Joe & Lori

    July 3, 2012
    • Thanks so much for helping us out, we really appreciate it. We have been really impressed by the generosity of the people we meet on the trail, and you are great examples of that. Thanks for stopping by to comment. We wish you the best of the wildflowers in the future!

      July 5, 2012
  13. Half Slow #

    Howdie faces of Harmony & Peace,
    Now that I had seen you on Dick’s Pass, heard of your thoughts and sharing, read your reasons of hiking, my wife Lan is astounded that there are two other people as crazy as I am. But I would say that you are lots more gentle and easy elegant . Not only the fragility that moves boulders, but you two split them. Half Slow.

    July 9, 2012
    • Thank you Half Slow, it was wonderful to meet you as well! It’s fun to be a little crazy, is it not? We think you are crazy enough to complete the PCT for sure.

      Thank you also for the poem, that was a great moment for us to hear you recite it, and in a beautiful place too. Good luck with your future hikes!

      July 12, 2012
  14. Hello there North Star and Shutterbug :]
    Thank you for the uplifting meeting yesterday. You guys are both incredible and it is so inspiring to hear that you both come from drastically different backgrounds with degree’s, friends, family and stability yet you have chosen to take a break from the world that you have surronded yourself with to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I met you on the path yesterday in the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort/Truckee area with two friends of mine, (Kyle and Haley, I am Anne) and we are all about 20 years old and in the process of laying our futures out ahead of us. I am struggling with decisions and choices and afraid to make a choice as I don’t want to miss out on what I “COULD BE” missing. Such as the PCT, something I have always wanted to do among many yet I am afraid to commit to school, a profession and so on as I am afraid I will never get the chance to live my life in the moment as it make take me off the path.
    Long story longer- It was wonderful to hear that two graduated students with huge titles behind them decided to take life into their own hands and do something they wanted to do for themselves. It gave me the confidence to go ahead and step onto the path of obtaining my degree and profession while knowing that I can at any time change course however I want.
    I am in charge and I lead my own life. I can always change.
    (I believe I knew this before, I just needed someone to remind me)
    SO! I wanted to say a big thank you and a HUGE goodluck. You guys are amazing and can make such an impact on the people’s lives around you. I will follow and step in those same footprints that you both are now currently making. Thank you for crossing my path. Goodluck on the trails ahead.
    ~Anne Dunne

    July 10, 2012
    • Thanks so much Anne, it was great to meet you too, and it’s wonderful that you have taken so much inspiration from our journey!

      We have both been very fulfilled by our educations and our careers, but sometimes it’s important to spend time away from all that in order to understand more deeply your own passions and find your path more clearly. Time in the wilderness is perfect for that.

      We wish you all the best on your own journey, and let’s keep in touch!

      July 12, 2012
  15. I started following your blog and journey when you were freshly pressed. The PCT has such a special place in my heart and your photographs bring me back so easily. I wish you both a safe and filling journey on the trail!
    I am nominating your blog for two awards…The Versatile Blogger Award and The Lovely Blog Award. http://curlybug.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/blog-love-it-feels-good-to-share/
    You are giving the PCT a beautiful gift documenting your adventure like you are. Awesome work!

    July 12, 2012
    • Wonderful, thanks so much! This blog is a real labor of love for us, and it really boosts our spirits to know that people like you are connecting with our adventures and with the trail. Right now the trail is our life, and we are excited that we can share it. Cheers!

      July 12, 2012
  16. Dwane Koppler #

    Do you take those beautiful photos with a cell phone or camera?

    I plan to hike the PCT next year and want to save weight, but if it takes a camera to get lovely shots I ‘ll accept the addional weight.

    Also wondering about running shoes vs. boots. That pic of the shoes with toes out was not encouraging for me to wear running shoes!

    Dwane Koppler
    Springfield, MO

    July 25, 2012
    • Hi Dwane! Two thirds of the photos come from a Canon 5D, and the other third from a Canon S90. The S90 is compact enough to fit in a pocket, and works great if you don’t want to carry an SLR. Some cell phones are pretty good too, especially if you don’t need to print your photos at a large size.

      The most popular shoe on the PCT now is probably the Brooks Cascadia, a trail running shoe. We have the Saucony Omni and Brooks Glycerin, and both are excellent, just plain running shoes. They last 500-700 miles. I got 850 miles out of my Glycerins, which is how the holes developed! 700 is more reasonable.

      A few people have boots too, but most have lighter shoes.

      July 25, 2012
  17. Dwane Koppler #

    Thanks for the shoe info! I have an excellent pair of running shoes to train with. What about when you traverse snow & ice? Are you carrying ice axe and crampons thru the Sierras?

    My preliminary thought is light shoes Campo to Kennedy Meadows, boots for the Sierras, the light shoes again for OR & WA. Your thoughts on this plan?

    By the way, put me on the list for one of your books when it is published!

    July 26, 2012
    • This year there was so little snow in the Sierras, there was no need for any traction devices or ice axes. But most years, Microspikes or similar would be perfect.

      Your plan sounds good. It would be possible to go the whole way with the same shoes, but people sometimes switch too.

      I will definitely be posting here when the book is done. Glad you are interested!

      July 27, 2012
  18. Sara #

    Hello to you both! I work at Crater Lake and checked you in the Mazama Campground and while doing so you gave me your card. Thanks for doing so! I have enjoyed seeing and reading about all the beauty you are immersed in during these months of hiking. Good luck to you both!

    August 16, 2012
    • Thanks Sara for stopping by the blog, and we are glad you enjoyed reading! Crater Lake is wonderful, and walking around the rim was perfect. Hope you enjoy reading about the rest of our journey, and feel free to comment or ask questions here anytime.

      August 16, 2012
  19. Dwane Koppler #

    Hi Anna @ Chris,

    Your tent appears to be relatively spacious. What brand/model is it? I’m considering carrying a 2-person tent even if I hike alone to have adequare room for gear in case of rain/snow. I’m thinking the extra pound or so of weight might be worth it.

    Bearing in mind that I have NO overnight backpacking experience, what is your opinion of this plan?

    Dwane Koppler

    August 19, 2012
    • It’s a Big Agnes Fly Creek 2, very small and light for two people, and we love it. It would work for one person, but many solo PCT hikers carry a smaller tent or a small tarp, which is even lighter.

      Whatever tent or tarp you buy, we would recommend testing it thoroughly on short trips before doing anything longer. That way, you will know if it works well for you, and you’ll get to know its strengths and weaknesses. This kind of testing can save you a lot of hassle. Good luck!

      August 28, 2012
  20. Judy Williams #

    Hi there Chris and Anna

    I have been a silent follower but have checked in periodically. We met you in Santa Fe. I have loved your writing and photos — the photos are just wonderful.. Although I haven’t written or signed on, the checking in has been mostly sufficient, However, I missed the resolution of Anna’s shin problems. I salute you for doing this trip and sharing the visuals. Santa Fe Judy

    October 5, 2012
    • Thanks Judy, it’s great to hear from you. Anna’s shins improved with a combination of rest, icing with cold spring water, and new shoes. We’re glad you could follow the whole journey!

      October 8, 2012
  21. Hello North Star and Shutterbug,
    Congratulations on your completion of the PCT! I have been following you all the way, enjoying your observations, photography, and wildlife. Dan and I are really looking forward to your upcoming long trail hikes. Love the new look of your blog, a lot of work I know. I think of you guys often. Especially on the trail when you were carrying the heavy camera and misc. photo stuff. Hard core. Glad you guys are well.
    Rockin’

    November 13, 2012
    • Thanks Rockin’! We are proud to help maintain the 100% PCT completion rate for hikers you host. We had a great time with you guys.

      Glad you like the new look and our new plans. Looks like you are having some awesome adventures too. Hike on!

      November 14, 2012
  22. I love your blog so much! So inspiring and makes me want to just get out there right now! (I will some day ;) )

    February 7, 2013
  23. Kathy Merrill #

    HI! Sorry to hear about your diversion. Doesn’t sound pleasant. I hope you are healing. I thought you would find the following interesting. http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/guide-to-foraging-of-60-edible-plants-and-67-recipes/nutrition-vegetarianism/ Maybe you heard about it already but just in case I thought I would post it for you. Best wishes,

    June 20, 2013
  24. Hey guys, terrific blog, I was directed here by Chris Hillier (trail name wolverine) because I’m attempting to set out and do exactly what you guys do. In April, god willing, Chris and I will set out to attempt the CDT and I’ll be carrying a DSLR along with all the other pieces a camera needs. I’ve already learned a little from your blog, I’ve got a little more to read but I really appreciate what you guys do! Thanks for the inspiration!

    -Gary

    August 25, 2013
    • Hi Gary, we’re glad the blog is helpful to you, and thanks for dropping us a note. The CDT should offer you plenty to photograph. Hope you and Wolverine have a wonderful hike (if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll see Chris’s namesake animal)!

      August 27, 2013
  25. Jane Alexander #

    The snow hikes look so beautiful, though cold. I will miss seeing you in late December.

    December 16, 2013
  26. Hi guys. My wife Janel and I met you at your presentation in Milford. We are just getting our blog up and running for our 2014 PCT hike. Would you mind if we linked your blog on our site? We wanted to list a few of our favorite sites for our friends and family to look at.

    December 20, 2013
  27. John #

    Hi Anna and Chris,
    I want to thank you for the two lovely books I just received from our mutual friend Victoria Burwell. Victoria was at our family property in BC, Canada and happened to mentioned two friends of hers just completing the PCT…. I was amazed when she mentioned your names and I told her I’d followed your blog from beginning to end….small world.
    Your book is fantastic and is proudly displayed in my living room for all to share.

    Thanks, John (Cowpie)

    December 30, 2013
  28. Can’t wait to explore your site more! I’ve always had a passion for the wilderness and nature and hope to do more serious hiking in my near future! So glad I found your site, looks like you have fabulous content, real need-to-know facts not the glossy ‘oh it was pretty’ info. Happy trails!

    March 7, 2014
  29. Girl Gone Expat #

    Loving you blog, so happy I came across it:)

    June 15, 2015
  30. Gary Minetti #

    Hey Shutterbug,

    I’m heading back to the PCT this Fall (Walker Pass to Belden) and this time I am going to bring my dslr. What is your latest thinking on the best holster or other method to carry your camera allowing quick access?

    Thanks much and congratulations on your marriage to North Star.

    Stay well,
    Gman
    PCT 2012

    March 29, 2016
    • Hey Gman! For a larger DSLR like the Canon 5D Mark III I carried on the PCT, I still like the Think Tank Digital Holster. That said, I don’t think there’s a perfect method to carry a large camera but keep it easily accessible while hiking. The best solution in the long term is probably a smaller camera. Sony has made great strides in shrinking camera size while improving image quality. Fuji and Olympus are doing good things as well. That’s where things are going in my view. Thanks for writing, and have a great time back on the PCT!

      May 14, 2016
  31. Susie #

    Hi Anna and Chris,

    I’m doing a school project and would love to talk to you about thru-hiking and medical difficulties on the trail, any way I could contact you?

    Thanks, Susie

    October 31, 2017

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