Where the forest grows: JessWandering


Meet Jess Dales.

Bio: Explorer. Pacific Northwest dweller. Writer. Prioritizer

You may know her on the social media world as @Jess.wandering with her beautiful photos of her adventures around the world. Jess was so kind to talk with me about how she affords to travels so much, why it’s so important to her, and her favorite places around the world.

Website: http://www.jessdales.com


Tell me about yourself. When you’re not outside exploring or traveling, what would we find you doing?

I’m a residential Real Estate Broker in Seattle, so when I’m not outside exploring, you’ll find me sitting behind a computer at my cubicle, or showing houses! Real estate works well for me because I’m able to put in a lot of hours while I’m at home, but my schedule remains relatively flexible. I’m also quite close to my family, so when I’m not traveling, I spend as much time as possible with them.

What is your favorite adventure story you love to share when swapping stories with friends over a cup of coffee?

Very few trips ever go according to plan, but I swear none of mine do!

 Photo Credit: Jess Dales

A few years ago my little brother and I planned a backpacking trip through Buckskin Gulch in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area of Southern Utah. It was supposed to be a relatively easy 21 mile one nighter. The plan was to hike 13.5 miles on day one and 7.5 miles on day two. We parked our car where we planned to end the trip, and caught a shuttle to the trailhead on the other side of the canyon. The hike on the first day took us through narrow slot canyons and chest high water – the going was slow. Before we knew it the sun was starting to set and we had to get our head lamps out. To our surprise, we still hadn’t come to the point where we were supposed to turn out of the main canyon, and make our camp for the night. Figuring we were just hiking slower than usual, we hiked late into the night. Eventually we called it quits, put the tent up, and passed out. We hadn’t seen any place to turn all day, so we decided that we must be on the right track. The next day we hiked until sunset – it was clear we were lost. We thought about turning around, but we had gone so far, and we weren’t sure that we would be able to find our way back even if we did. After all, we had somehow missed the turn the first time around.

 Photo Credit: Jess Dales

By the end of the third day, we were starting to get scared. I had brilliantly decided to wear Teva shoes for the first time, and my feet had huge open wounds from the experiment. They were so infected and swollen that I could barely walk. We were out of food, didn’t have a map, and still hadn’t seen a single person. We decided that my brother would have to leave me behind and go find help the next morning. I was setting up camp that night, when I heard my brother yelling that he had found something. Maybe 20 yards further up the trail, he had stumbled on one of those trailhead sign-in books. We packed up real fast and started running down the trail. We turned around the bend and there was a huge lookout with tons of people taking in the view! We asked the first person we saw where we were. They informed us that we had hiked a little over 44 miles through the canyon, all the way down to Lees Ferry in Arizona!

Why is getting outside important to you? Why do you make it a priority?

I’m always trying to remember who I was before the world told me who I should be. I can feel little pieces of that person returning when I’m out in nature. For me, that’s where all the world’s distractions and expectations quietly fade into the distant background and I’m able to see the forest through the trees.

 Photo Credit: Jess Dales

What is your favorite thing that being outside hiking, camping, exploring, traveling, brings out in you?

The outdoors has always played an important role in my life. Always eager to learn and share my passion for the outdoors, I see every new adventure as an opportunity for self-growth. I believe that our experiences shape our worldview and ultimately who we are. As a result, camping, exploring, and traveling help me grow as a person by forcing me to interact with the world how it really is – not just how I imagine it to be from the comfort of my home.

Photo Credit: Jess Dales

What is your number one go-to “You must Visit this place” recommendation?

I’ve always struggled with this question, because I’ve learned something from every place I’ve been, and each one has shaped the person I am today. That being said, I just got back from trekking the Cordillara Huayhuash in Peru, and while I was on the trek I remember thinking: “I finally have a favorite place!” My favorite adventures push me outside of my comfort zone, force me to interact with the earth in a very authentic way, and are visually stunning. The Cordillara Huayhuash was all that and more!

 Photo Credit: Jess Dales

Anything else you want to share with these women?

The number one question that I get asked on social media – BY FAR – is how I afford to travel all the time. It’s a difficult question to answer, for a number of reasons, but primarily because it assumes that I travel all the time! My Instagram account is a carefully curated collection of photographs from my outdoor adventures. It does not represent my life – just some of the more picturesque moments. During those brief moments I take lots of photographs, and then I post them over time – creating the illusion that I am always adventuring out in some remote destination. I guess my point is, you don’t have to travel the world to experience adventure, and the happiest I’ve ever been is when I’m living in the moment and not comparing myself to others. Social media is fun, and can be very inspirational, but never forget that it doesn’t provide a complete picture of anyone’s life.

Thanks Jess for all your stories, advice, incredible words, and sharing your words and photos with all of us. Jess makes me want to book a flight to Peru immediately! Check out Jess this week and comment any other questions you have for her!

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