Day One: Portland to Williams, Oregon

My alarm goes off at 7:50, but like most days lately, no matter what time it’s set for, it takes me about thirty minutes to get up. I lay in bed and check email as Brie continues to sleep undisturbed. I have a pingback awaiting approval from a website I’m not familiar with. Pingbacks are these notifications on WordPress, my webhost, telling you when someone has linked a page from your website to theirs. I check what’s been linked and a random woman has written an entire article grossly misinterpreting a piece I wrote, Fat Woman Falling. It’s fake sympathetic, off-the-mark about everything I actually wrote, focusing on what she perceives as my body shame and it accompanies no less than a dozen truly awkward photos of her thin, socially-acceptably attractive self working out. Whatever horror I was feeling evaporates as I look at a couple more things on her website: more of the same weird articles about what she incorrectly deems “body-positivity” and weird selfies accompanied by fat-positive hashtags. No comments or likes on any it. I can’t really get it up to give a shit, which is refreshing because lately I care too much about everything.

I get out of bed, finally waking Brie, and put on my beloved camping dress. Yes, I have a camping dress. It’s nothing special, just a black, stretch cotton, two-strap, mid-thigh length dress with an empire waist. It’s super comfortable, passes for cute and I’ve worn it on pretty much every camping trip for the last three or four years. We have a goal to be out the door by nine AM, which is lofty for us and our night job lifestyle, but we actually do it. I mean, we still have to go grocery shopping for the weekend, which almost always sends me into an anxious, agoraphobia spiral, but as I carry all of the stuff down the four flights of stairs to my car, I notice that my normally pain-bogged body feels kind of… not terrible. Grocery shopping is quick and easy, Brie and I are on the same page despite our still uncaffeinated, early morning selves. Our camping trip bodes well! Continue reading “Day One: Portland to Williams, Oregon”

“Unlikely Hikers: An Invitation to the Outdoors”

Tagg Magazine is a magazine for “everything lesbian, queer and under the rainbow,” and they graciously interviewed me for a piece about @UnlikelyHikers. This came out weeks ago, but my head has been too up my butt to share it. I was in a deep grief brain fog when they interviewed me, but they skillfully made me sound good. Thanks, Tagg Magazine!

(Also, a correction, I started Unlikely Hikers in 2016. A year ago this month!)

Linnton Loop

Location: Portland, Oregon. Ancestral land of the Chinook, Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, +.

Level: moderate
Round trip/Gain: 5.2 miles/900 feet
Type: loop
Permit: n/a

This is my favorite in-town hike. It’s gorgeous, never too busy (on most parts of the trail) and challenging in spots. There are downhill pitches where I basically tip-toe.

I’ve been saying I don’t want to give route info anymore because keeping track while hiking is really boring and these write-ups don’t get much action for how much work it takes, but I love this trail so much I want to share! I don’t I don’t have exact mileage for each direction, but none of the stretches are very long. I’ve included tons of photos to help.

At the trailhead
This is a backwards view, but you want to turn left here onto fire lane 10.
Just before you reach Germantown Rd. from fire lane 10
turn right at Germantown Rd. for a tenth of a mile (or so) roadwalk to the Wildwood Trailhead on the other (south) side of the street
Wildwood trailhead
Turn left here onto the Waterline Trail. (It’s the second turnoff from the trailhead)
Pass this gate and turn left onto Leif Erickson Rd.
Leif Erickson Rd.
Cross Germantown Rd. from the Leif Erickson trailhead to fire lane 9. This part gets really special.
After the hellish decline, you’ll see this gate. Turn right where it forks.
Turn left here onto Wilark, a residential street.
If you’re starting to wonder where the fuck you’re going, you’re going the right way.
At the very end of the culdesac, just past this jeep is a public staircase.
Take this all the way down and then turn left back to your car.


So many of these dark beauties on the trail today.

A post shared by Jenny Bruso (@unlikelyhikers) (@jennybruso) on

Wapato Access Trail

  • Level: easy (Beginner level: doable)
  • Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation: less than 40 feet gain
  • Type: loop
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: n/a
  • Drive time from Portland: 20m
  • Google map: “wapato access greenway”

I have a deep attachment to this not-so-spectacular trail. I did it many times and never posted about it on social media like I usually do. I felt like I was keeping it a secret which is kind of dramatic, but honestly, it was. It’s the place I rehabbed my shitty knee injury that took me down from hiking for about three months. Continue reading “Wapato Access Trail”

Latourell Falls

  • Level: easy (Beginner level: challenging)
  • Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation: 600 ft. gain
  • Type: loop
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: n/a
  • Drive time from Portland: 35m
  • Google map: “latourell falls”
  • Features: Columbia River Gorge, waterfalls, views

The only good thing about my stupid meniscus tear is getting reacquainted with the shorter, less difficult trails I haven’t done in years. Although, this one was plenty difficult for where I’m at right now. I didn’t quite have to take any breaks, but I was moving up those inclines at a snail’s pace. I mean absolutely nothing disparaging by this, it was perfect. Continue reading “Latourell Falls”

Smith Rock

  • Level: moderate
  • Length: 4 miles
  • Elevation: 800 ft. gain
  • Type: loop
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: Oregon State Parks pass or $5
  • Drive time from Portland: 3 hours
  • Google map: “Smith Rock State Park”
  • Features: Central Oregon lava plains, rock-climbing, wildflowers, views, Crooked River, bird watching
  • Pair with: Tumalo Falls, Scout Camp Trail, Steelhead Falls, Cove Palisades

Other worldly beautiful, the yellow-orange rhyolite cliffs appear to change color with the seasons and sun’s position. The exaggerated bends of Crooked River snaking it’s way around the main attractions almost looks fake. Monkey Face, the 300-foot natural rock sculpture jutting above everything doesn’t exactly add to the park’s believability. Continue reading “Smith Rock”

Hollenbeck Canyon (San Diego)

  • Level: easy (Beginner level: challenging)
  • Length: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation: 774 ft. gain
  • Type: lollipop loop
  • Open: all year
  • Permit: n/a
  • Google map: “Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area”

My favorite trail when I’m visiting my family in San Diego. It’s only twenty minutes from their house, but the quiet, desert farmland makes it feel far away. The particular route I like to take makes a lollipop loop (mostly an out and back with a short loop in the middle), but there are many trails in the area if you want to piece your own creation together. Apparently, in winter, which hardly exists in San Diego, it can be luscious and green with waterfalls, wildflowers and actual creek crossings. I’ve never seen it like this, though I’ve gone at different times of the year. Continue reading “Hollenbeck Canyon (San Diego)”