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A Hike for Every Day of the Year

Local personal trainer and avid hiker pens a book encouraging readers to hike all year round

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Sometime in 2015, personal trainer and outdoors-lover Jess Beauchemin came across a web forum that posed a question she found intriguing: Did anyone on the forum have a hiking photo for all the days of the year? Being a regular hiker, Beauchemin used that prompt as the seed of the book she's putting out this month.

"Hike366: A Woman's Tales of Hiking Adventures All Year Round," was released this month from Dancing Moon Press, the press acquired by local author Kim Cooper Findling in 2018.

Jess Beauchemin snowshoeing on Black Butte. - COURTESY JESS BEAUCHEMIN
  • Courtesy Jess Beauchemin
  • Jess Beauchemin snowshoeing on Black Butte.

The Source Weekly connected this week with Beauchemin. Read our Q&A:

Source Weekly: Share a bit about the genesis of this book.

Jess Beauchemin: After about a decade of hiking and writing trip reports online, I got curious about the calendar dates that I had *never* done a hike on. I made it a project to fill in all those missing dates on my huge hike statistics spreadsheet. That was in August 2015. Nearly three years later, I finished up all the hikes and I always knew I'd have to write a book about this experience. I started by looking through hundreds of my blogs, journal entries, photos, scraps of paper and forum posts to try and tell a cohesive tale.

SW: From what I understand you're a copious note-taker when—or after—you hike. What do your notes look like?

JB: My notes vary from just a few scribbles in the closest notebook to detailed journal entries, complete with sketches and hand drawn maps. I do the most writing when I'm backpacking or when I'm out alone.

SW: What kind of things capture your attention most when you're hiking?

JB: I will stop for any wildflower, fungus, critter or weird rock. While I am very motivated to get to the tops of mountains, I always have enough time to appreciate all the little curiosities I find along the way. I have been known to drop to my hands and knees in the middle of the trail to try and identify an unusual spider or to make observations of a new-to-me flower.

COURTESY JESS BEAUCHEMIN
  • Courtesy Jess Beauchemin

SW: How has hiking impacted your life? Have those impacts changed or shifted since the advent of the pandemic?

JB: I was not an active kid, never good at sports, either. I didn't think my body was much good for anything—until I rediscovered hiking as a young adult. I always loved being outside, but I mostly just sat down and read books or sketched wildlife. Once I took a chance at walking some trails on my own, I discovered that I could build the strength and endurance I needed to go on longer and longer hikes. I became so enthralled at learning navigational skills, plant identification skills, how to hike in the snow and all these other things that I never had exposure to before. Hiking has opened so many doors for me and has challenged me to grow as a person; it continues to push me to grow and learn new things.

During the pandemic, my focus shifted to exploring locally, getting off the trails I knew, doing more off-trail hiking and getting out on even more solo adventures. While everyone complains about crowded trails and permits, I am confident that I can go hiking within 45 minutes of my house and not see another soul on the trail, any day of the year.

SW: Early on in the pandemic you crafted some scavenger hunts around Bend for people to get out and explore, which we covered here in the Source. Do those urban adventures make it into the book as well?

JB: Yes! One of my favorite urban adventures is when I walked 14 miles from a neighborhood apartment in Brooklyn to the heart of Manhattan. I loved seeing the diversity of different neighborhoods, exploring several parks along the way and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. (I took the train back to the apartment).

SW: You're based in Bend—but you hike pretty far and wide. What is the range of the hiking you do in the book – as in, what various locations can readers expect to find in the book?

JB: I grew up in New England, so many of my formative hikes come from the White Mountains in New Hampshire. But after moving to Oregon in 2006, most of my adventures take place in Oregon and Washington. There are several hikes in California, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii and even France.

COURTESY JESS BEAUCHEMIN
  • Courtesy Jess Beauchemin

SW: What do you hope readers get out of this book?

JB: I hope readers will be inspired to go hiking more often, especially outside the prime summer months. I would love to hear about someone taking on their own list of 366 hikes (gotta prioritize getting out on leap day—it only comes once every four years!) And I really hope readers take away some lessons in stewardship: how to tread lightly on the land, develop appreciation for our public spaces and remember to pack a trash bag on every hike.

SW: Anything else you'd like to add?

JB: Immense gratitude to my husband and friends who supported me in the completion of this book. I debated canning the whole project during the low days of the pandemic, but they talked me back into it.

-Author Jess Beauchemin will be at Outside In in downtown Bend signing books for November's First Friday on Nov. 5. "Hike 366" is also available at Dudley's Bookshop Café and at the website, hike366.com.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. (Blame her for everything since then.) Favorite car: A Trek commuter bike. Favorite cat: An adopted dog who looks like a Jedi master. Favorite things, besides responding to your comments: Downton Abbey re-runs, Aretha Franklin albums, and pink wine.

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