I’m in Portland Monthly and on Huffpost!

I was going to wait until Monday to announce all of this because I thought people wouldn’t see it during the weekend, but I am quickly finding out that it won’t wait thanks to those of you already sharing! Recently, I was interviewed for Portland Monthly. Every person I worked with on this was AWESOME and GOT IT and I am grateful for the opportunity. I am really proud of this article and it has spawned others, including one on Huffpost!

News is REALLY WEIRD these days. One magazine or website writes something and then a zillion others just reword it for other websites. I’m grateful for all of it!

Also, find me on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/jenny_bruso

Click on photos for articles:

Portland Monthly!



Articles can also be found all over. Tons of them. Just google “unlikely hikers.” Here are a couple:

Refinery 29:

Seventeen Magazine:



Who is a “real” hiker?

Whether you hike a mile or fifteen, or only a few times a year; if you use a mobility device on trails, or don’t see anyone who likes you; You Are A Hiker. When we base our worth as hikers on how many miles and feet of elevation we crush, or on our physical abilities, or inabilities, we miss out on the journey, healing and connection to all-that-is that can be found in nature. It’s not a race. You don’t get to stop and smell the wildflowers or dip your tired feet in a creek on a race.

I invite you to move your body in ways that feel good, for the joy of it. Be in your own journey, don’t compare it to someone else’s. It’s the doing it that matters.

It’s ok to challenge yourself. It’s ok to want to do more, harder, faster, longer, but it doesn’t make one a “real” hiker. That standard Instagram summit photo at golden hour is beautiful, but it doesn’t tell the story of a “real” hiker.

The outdoors is for everyone. If you need an invitation, this is it. If you need an invitation to quit these thought patterns, this is it.

If you hike, you are a hiker. Welcome ♥

#sponsored #REI #ForceOfNature #OptOutside

Location: Ozette Triangle aka Cape Alava, Olympic National Park, Washington

Continue reading “Who is a “real” hiker?”

Hike Trails, Get Money

I sort of hinted at this a couple of months ago, but it is finally official: REI got wind of me and I’ve been contracted to essentially keep doing what I do. They aren’t asking me to sell a product or be anything other than what I am, an unlikely outdoorsperson. For the next six months, you will very occasionally see that some of my posts are sponsored. They are also sponsoring the two meet-ups I posted about recently on Instagram.

As many of you know, REI, specifically with their #ForceOfNature campaign is making attempts to interrupt the common outdoors narrative. Obviously, there is so much work to be done and some of us have been doing it for awhile already, but this is a big deal. I’m a thirty-five-year-old, fat, queer, high school drop out who started hiking five years ago. When have you ever seen someone like me featured in the mainstream?

I am so grateful for this opportunity to share my experience and connect with all of you in the ways that we do. I feel like so many of my dreams are clicking into place. I’ve missed out on a lot of experiences and opportunities my peers have had due to lack of resources and access.

This may not be the most exciting news to my anti-capitalist, punk, queer communities, but I do hope you’ll support your girl in getting paid. I’m not making the big bucks, so don’t get it twisted. This will essentially help me to take a couple days off a month to focus solely on writing and adventuring and building community based on diversifying the outdoors. I still need a lot of help, financially, to keep doing all of this, so if you were thinking about donating to my patreon or paypal, I can absolutely use it. No pressure, I’ll stop touting it all of the time soon. 5% of monthly donations are donated to the Trans Assistance Project.

Thank you for your continued support!

Neahkahnie Mountain

  • Level: Easy  (Beginner Level: Challenging.)
  • Length: 3 miles
  • Elevation: 900 ft. gain
  • Type: out and back
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: n/a
  • Drive time from Portland: 1h50m
  • Google map: n/a, the trailhead that comes up on google isn’t one I did. See below.

Continue reading “Neahkahnie Mountain”

Queer Adventure Storytelling – July 12!

July 12! So soon! So summer! Come grab a frosty rootbeer or beerbeer and listen to queer adventure stories!

Queer Adventure Storytelling is a new event featuring stories of the outdoors, traveling, and beyond by queer, trans and gender non-conforming speakers. We hope to build community, share knowledge, elevate lesser-heard voices and inspire each other’s next adventures! Join us for presentations and workshops that lie outside of the common narrative found in outdoor media and gear shops. There will be a Q&A after the speakers and time to meet new adventure buddies.

This event happens every second Wednesday of the month at the Lucky Labrador on N Killingsworth. 7pm. Free! RSVP on facebook or don’t, just come!

Guests for July 12:

Kendra Wissel aka Squirrel is a midwesterner who didn’t discover camping or hiking until she was saw mountains for the first time in Colorado at fifteen. It was instant love. She’s been living in Portland for three years now and going to PCC for the EMT/Paramedic program.

Mel Heywood is a Cancerian femme giantess who lives for nature, show tunes, and pizza. She does comedy and storytelling and karaoke all over Portland and has very weak ankles.

Jane Palmieri has never quite been able to move away from Cascadia after booking a one way ticket out of Virginia for an “adventure educator” gig. She is now a rebellious nurse who can also be found participating in direct action activism or calling local square dances.

& your hosts:

Trevor Homework McKee – Long Distance Hiker, renaissance trans man, and Trail Correspondent for Sounds of the Trail Podcast. He currently represents the Northwest Outward Bound School as a Course Director and Lead Instructor. Find him at www.SoletoSoil.com

Travis Clough – Queer lover of mountains and all things outdoor adventure. Originally from Maine, he now adores exploring the Cascades. He is the Operations Manager & Instructor for the The Venture Out Project – ventureoutproject.com, an LGBTQ+ outdoor organization based out of Portland, OR and Northampton, MA.

Jenny Bruso – Queer, fat, femme, former indoor kid and writer whose life changed after an accidental hike in 2012. Through her blog, jennybruso.com, and instagram community, @UnlikelyHikers, she aims to put a spotlight on diversity, inclusion and visibility in the outdoors.

NOTE: Come early! The room only seats 45-50 people so grab a seat before things get nuts. This is also a good idea if you’re planning to have dinner there.

Allies are welcome to attend. This space and the bathrooms are wheelchair accessible.

Are you interested in reading
or presenting at a future event?

We will need anywhere from 2-4 guests for each event, so shoot us an email with what you may have in mind and a little bit about your background as a queer adventurer. This can be defined as broadly as you like! QueerAdventureStorytelling@gmail.com

Day Three: Williams > Jacksonville > Crater Lake > Portland?

The bedroom is way too dark for 8:30am. Rain. I get up begrudgingly, my body a pin cushion of unexplainable pain. I hear the two lambs crying nearby and limp to a window to see what the fuss is. The dogs are chasing them around the front yard, all parties confused as to why they aren’t with the herd.

I hate to admit it and I don’t want to give it power, but I already know today will be a bad day. I’m having fun on the farm with Erin and the animals and the chaos, I could easily stay here another night, but I’m hoping a change of scenery will work some magic on the funk in my bones and brains. I have too much on my mind and it’s nothing that can’t wait for our return to Portland, but I just can’t turn it off. Also, I’m going to CRATER LAKE. Can that just be enough?

I get up to make coffee and the lambs’ vibrato “mehhh” is louder than ever. I open the front door and find this:

Oh, hey guys.

They also wanna know what’s up.
Brie’s up now and we quickly pack our stuff. She makes us breakfast. We’re ready to go, but we hang out with Erin for a bit more. It pours on and off for just minutes at a time. Brie and I wordlessly exchange concern for the day, neither one of us wanting to admit how foreboding this manic weather feels. We say our goodbyes. I don’t feel ready to leave Southern Oregon. I’ve barely scratched the surface.

I exclaim over every view as if I haven’t been looking at these views for the last few days. Brie says something like, “when you look at a field, you’re never just looking at a field.” It reminds me of the Rumi poem I always return to, There is a Field:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.

Our first stop is the historic Jacksonville Cemetery, only about twenty miles from Williams and a few miles from Medford. Jacksonville is a cute little olde town. You know, art galleries, overpriced everything, but adorable. We find a coffee shop and attempt to caffeinate the gray blahs away. Why are all of our trips like this?!?!?! (Rhetorical: Oregon.)

Love that wrought iron.


Not scary at all.

Nature is femme

What if this was all that was left of you?
It feels good to walk around for awhile even in the rain. I’m wearing all of the warm layers I brought which makes me worry about tonight, especially since we’ll be even higher up at Diamond Lake. I pee behind a giant marble grave of some very clearly rich people in the Christian section of the cemetery and feel like maybe I’m being a sacrilegious shit head, but I can’t wait any longer.

Brie and I get back in the car and begin the drive to Medford, where we’ll soon be en route to Crater Lake. We talk about the very real possibility of being fogged out at Crater Lake and agree it’s worth trying even if it doesn’t work out. We might head back to Portland after, which sucks because we have all of this time.

Oh, and obviously we stopped at the In-N-Out Burger. The only one in Oregon.

There were too many people inside, so we ate in the car. It was SO GOOD.
The drive is gorgeous, especially the parts along the Rogue River. Before our last turn-off, we realize Google Maps has lead us astray and we won’t be able to take 138 to Diamond Lake because of weather. Huh. We have no reception and our maps indicate a clear alternate route, but we decide we will definitely be heading back home after this. I don’t want to, but I also don’t want to camp in the rain and possible snow.

Yeah, camping sounds awesome right now…
We pay the $15 to get into Crater Lake National Park, the only national park in Oregon, and being that we are officially driving in snow and can’t see even two hundred yards in front of us, we know we aren’t gonna see the damn lake. I’m pretending I don’t care, it’s beautiful! We pull up at the first big viewpoint, the only one open at the moment, and…

Behind Brie, that’s Crater Lake. Really.


This is a really weird thing I’m not sure I want to admit, which makes me feel like I have to: I’ve been here before. At least once. I think maybe even twice, I just can’t remember. One of those times was maybe in the last fourteen years since I’ve lived in Oregon and I still can’t remember. My PTSD/too-much-partying brain is that bad. SUCKS. So, this is potentially my third time and still, I’m going to need to come back again to actually see it, but at least I’ll actually remember this time?

We’re in the park for less than an hour. It’s going to be a long day of driving. I’m at that point in my depression where I’m so annoyed by my own feelings and needs. My adventurous spirit has been lost for too long. I think it got mixed up somewhere with my medical bills and chronic pain. I try to be nice to myself. I try to believe this is temporary because it very likely is, right? I don’t want to go back to Portland, which has become more of a symbol than a place: real life and all of it’s harshness, my unsatisfying and underpaying job that doesn’t appreciate me, no cats, no money, fear and imposter syndrome about the GOOD things happening. I feel ashamed of how my negative headspace shrouds the very real, lovely things in my life. I have always felt, even as a child, as if I exist in two worlds. I’m losing my sparkle, myself.

The other day, I was doing one of my side hustles, some landscaping at work. As I was taking a picture of this giant lupine I grew, a man walked by, reeking of alcohol, and snapped the flower’s stalk. His face was a mix of laughter and something like confusion. I was enraged. It felt so personal and shocking. As I tried to explain to my coworkers what happened, all of them sympathetic, it dawned on me just how not a problem this was. Not for me, anyway. There is so much shitty shit happening in the world. This was not one of those things. Yes, the lupine and the planting and the growing and the metaphors gave me real joy, but I could feel the pain and recklessness radiate off of this guy. That petty joy might actually have given him some relief or maybe even his own “WTF am I doing?” moment. I know that feeling of impulsively taking a small joy from someone to dull an edge, like slowing my car to ten below when someone tailgates me, or ignoring a customer who is impatiently interrupting my transaction with another customer. It’s all so fucking petty and speaks only to our pain and feelings of powerlessness.


The ride home is long and tedious. My back is killing me. Brie and I exhaust the sweeter details of the weekend before mutually running out of ways to be positive. We listen to NPR and dread the world, but we get a sunset.


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