Meet the Outsider: Jenny is an 'Unlikely Hiker' Forging an Inclusive Trail


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Jenny Bruso calls herself an "unlikely hiker" because she doesn't fit the standard “outdoorsperson.” And she's out to change that standard image, because everyone should feel entitled and empowered to seek the healing, clarity and connection that can be found in nature.

"The outdoors and public lands belong to all of us," Jenny emphasizes. "No one is getting a handwritten invitation to our national parks and trailheads, sure, but exclusion isn’t always verbal. By sharing my experiences and putting a spotlight on representation, diversity and inclusion, I invite people of size, people of color, queer, transgender, gender-nonconforming and differently abled people into the outdoors." 

Jenny in the wild. Photo courtesy of Jenny Bruso.

Jenny in the wild. Photo courtesy of Jenny Bruso.

I make time to be an Outsider because "spending time in nature, especially when paired with moving my body, helps me unplug from the constant noise of daily life such as the pressures of productivity and the constant bombardment of ads and messages that dominate American culture."

The time I spend in nature brings "clarity" to my daily life.

Nature challenges me by "always reminding me that things are a process. One step at a time. The forward movement of hiking can be a metaphor. Also, respecting the unpredictability of weather and trail conditions and not being able to bend nature to our convenience has much to teach us."

My favorite moments spent outside are "when I am completely alone and my body and mind get into a machine-like groove. It’s meditation. I regularly make huge breakthroughs."

My favorite thing about hiking is "having nothing but the pack on my back with its carefully selected contents to sustain me and my legs moving me along from one point to the next. Sometimes, for great, shocking distances, it feels like a miracle that my body does this! Revering our abilities is good for us and gives great perspective."

My favorite place to hike is "in the Columbia River Gorge because of its unreal and easily accessible beauty."

The Conservancy's Tom McCall Preserve at the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Photo © Alan D. St. John. 

The Conservancy's Tom McCall Preserve at the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Photo © Alan D. St. John. 

Nature brings me "peace and connection to my place in the world." I give back to nature by "picking up loose trash every time I am out and sharing information with others about "leave no trace" principles. People are often surprised to hear how leaving toilet paper and fruit peels make negative impacts."