Meet the Outsider: Trail Traveler DeAnna Reflects on Equity in Recreation

DeAnna Marshall has “always been hiking, in one way or another.” Growing up in southwest Washington, her backyard was a forest where she would spend hours exploring. You could say it left a mark: DeAnna’s mental map of these childhood trails remains, some 20 years later!


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She’s now a Seattle-ite, building a career with non-profits and currently working as an administrator in reproductive health care. When she’s not at the clinic or on the trails, DeAnna works to address violence against the LGBTQ community, developing community-based solutions including free, public self-defense classes.

Read on to learn how hiking helps DeAnna reboot, both mentally and physically.

I make time to be an Outsider because "I need adventure in my life."

The time I spend in nature brings "mindfulness" to my daily life. "The peace that meditation brings can be hard to achieve. The focus on your breathing uphill, intake of nature, and intentional step placement coming down brings you into a very mindful space."

 The Blaine Street Stairs are a favorite training challenge for DeAnna when gearing up for a rigorous hike. Photo by Nikolaj Lasbo.

The Blaine Street Stairs are a favorite training challenge for DeAnna when gearing up for a rigorous hike. Photo by Nikolaj Lasbo.

Nature challenges me by "being a reflection of what is happening in society. Hiking is resource intensive – you need free time, energy, transportation, hiking companions, and money for good footwear and other gear. Those with disposable time and income are able to access nature in a way most poor people simply cannot. Seattle also has some beautiful 'urban hikes,' parks, and green spaces. But as working people continue to be displaced and pushed out, there is a disparity in access to those spaces as well. Who gets to experience nature? Who gets to live in Seattle? These questions are very much related and nature challenges me to ask them."

My favorite moments spent outside are "with the people I care about. I often play the role of the organizer, researching trail conditions and figuring out logistics for group hikes. Facilitating adventure for others is very rewarding."

My favorite thing about hiking is "experiencing wildlife. Seeing wildlife in the wild is truly something else, especially in the higher altitude mountainous areas. My favorite time of year is when the wildflowers peak and the mountain goats and marmots come out."

My favorite place to hike is "Mount Rainier" because "it is nature on grand scale."


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