Patches Triple Crown: AT 2013, PCT 2014, CDT 2018

My completion photos from the AT, PCT, and CDT Left: Triple crown I made of leaves after completing the CDT in 2018. Right (top): completion of the AT in 2013, (middle): completion of the PCT in 2014, (bottom): completion of the CDT in 2018

I’m a hiker, an adventurer, a neuroscientist, an engineer, and a Triple Crown Backpacker. Most folks on the trails know me as “Patches” because of the flag full of patches I carry with me on my adventures and @patchesthru finds me on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). I fell in love with hiking and the outdoors before I learned to walk, and have been finding joy out on the trails ever since! I spent my first year inside the pack, but before long I was hiking and started carrying my own pack.

Since then, I’ve been on treks across the globe (on 5 of 7 continents so far), as well as hiked and backpacking trips all over the country, including end-to-end hikes of the Long Trail in Vermont (1998), the Triple Crown of Backpacking (AT ’13, PCT ’14, and CDT ’18), and the Midstate Trail in Massachusetts (2019).

Through all of my adventures I’ve had four constant companions: my backpack, my camera, my journal, and the love and support of family, friends, and the people I’ve met out there on the trails.

Backpacking and Trekking

I was 12-years old when I went on my first backpacking trip was with my family (my mom, dad, and 2 younger brothers). We did a 3-day hike along the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail in Vermont and I absolutely loved it. On that trip I met my first thru-hikers, and sitting around a camp fire learned that it was possible to hike the trail, the AT, for MONTHS instead of DAYS, my dream of someday hiking the entire Appalachian Trail (from Georgia to Maine) was born!


My first backpacking trip, a 3-day section hike of Appalachian Trail from Massachusetts to Vermont with my family.

From then on, we were a backpacking family, and spent some time every summer hiking and backpacking sections of the Appalachian Trail in New England, especially in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.Backpacking_1992I remained a dedicated hiker and backpacker as I headed off to college, and in 1998, my brothers and I completed a southbound (SOBO) thru-hike of the Long Trail in Vermont in 19-days with the support of our parents and grandparents. For the next decade or so, I kept backpacking and trekking in the US and around the world, and working on completing the Appalachian Trail, section by section… first in Vermont, then Massachusetts, then Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine… slowly but surely, I figured I’d get there eventually.

In the meantime, I focused on my career, earning my B.S. and then M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), then a Ph.D. from Harvard and MIT, a post-doctoral fellowship from NASA‘s National Space Biomedical Research Center, and a Harvard Medical School junior faculty position. Although I didn’t have time in my life for thru-hiking, I continued adventuring around the country and around the globe… reaching the summits of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Rainier in Washington State, Cerro Chirripo in Costa Rica, and Yarigatake in Japan among others… and trekking all over the world (Iceland, Japan, Tanzania, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Switzerland, and more).

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Then, in the early 2010s I developed occupational asthma any my doctor gave me a choice, I could either keep breathing, or I could keep pursuing my scientific research in the career I loved. As it turns out, breathing isn’t optional, so I needed to make some changes and prioritize my health.


A photo of me at my brother’s wedding, 4 days before my AT thru-hike

Sick and tired of letting asthma control my life, I wrapped up the project I was working on, left my position as junior faculty at Harvard Medical School, and set off to pursue my childhood dream of an Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hike. I set off on my solo Northbound (NOBO) thru-hike on May 8, 2013, and by the time I finished the AT in 2013, I’d regained normal lung function, lost 50 – 60 lbs, and gotten my health back!!

Since then, I’ve completed the Triple Crown of Backpacking, with solo NOBO thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail (2013), the Pacific Crest Trail (2014), and the Continental Divide Trail (2018).jes2019_BLUE


17 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Blog Recommendation: Patches Thru | Polly's Blog

  2. Dear Patches,
    I love your blog! I am so inspired by your writing. I have been a long-time backpacker for many years, doing several trips each summer, each lasting about a week, but I never have tried thru-hiking. However, as I live along the CDT, I am now contemplating doing a thru-hike of my own! Thank you so much for generously sharing your adventure online.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow girl! No kidding you are an adventurer! Just wanted to say hello, my husband and I briefly met you while you were crossing the road in Wrightwood. We were in the silver min van and asked if you were blogging your trek.

    Well we found you! Last year I followed a few PCT bloggers from day 1 to the end. It’s funny but just a couple days earlier I was thinking to myself I need to look who’s making the hike this year. Then we ran into you! I love reading the PCT blogs and living their adventures vicariously. Needless to say being in a family mini van I don’t see myself out on the trail doing an epic hike like the PCT anytime soon! Ha ha.

    I’ll be following you and cheering you on! Wishing you safety & many blessing along the trail.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was a pleasure meeting you atop Nevada falls in Yosemite. I hope the Cliff bar helped fuel you a couple of extra miles down the trail. Best of luck on your adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It was nice meeting you at Rosary Lake – we gave you the JTC patch. Pretty stinking amazing is all I could think. Safe and awesome travels to you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patches- stumbled on your site while looking for folks who’ve used the moab ventilator long distance. Came for that review, stayed for your other excellent posts. Keep it up and not fade away.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just heard your interview on Sounds of the Trail (Episode 18, The Bucket List episode). You have a lot of wisdom. That was my favorite episode so far.


  8. Hey Patches its Choo Choo from the Smokies. I’m gearing up for a PCT thru, and would love to ask some questions about what its like doing a PCT thru after an AT thru.


  9. Hi Patches,
    I’m Maria, a book publicist. I have a book that I think you might enjoy reading. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll gladly send you a copy!


  10. What a tremendous guide. Thank you for putting this together.
    You noted that you used the Gaia app. You said the Midstate may be found on the “layers” section of the Gaia app. Could you elaborate? I have teh Gaia app but cannot find the Midstate Trail.


  11. Hey Patches – how enjoyable to read your posts! As a fellow solo hiker, I’m finding your Midstate Trail posts so incredibly helpful. I depart for my SOBO thru hike on 8.2.2020.

    The cheat sheet is spot on! Would you be open to sharing a copy of it in its original file so that I can try to reverse it for SOBO purposes?

    I’m also working on creating my route in Gaia GPS but man, that is tedious:). Got the guide book also, though can see I need more deets.



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