Katherine Donnelly | 07.11.2018

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video is worth a million, which is exactly why we asked our Contributor community to hit the trails and tell us why they hike through short and raw video clips from their favorite hiking adventures. 

This is Jessica Beauchemin's submission. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and we hope that you find yourself inspired to lace up those hiking shoes and start hiking. Read on to learn more about why Jess hikes, how she got into it, and so much more.

OP: Why do you hike? 

Jess Beauchemin: I hike to immerse myself in nature, where I can find quiet, beauty and challenge. I hike to give my mind a break from everyday life stresses. I hike to challenge my physical fitness, routefinding skills and fear of the unknown. Hiking brings so much depth to my life.

OP: How has hiking affected the way you approach the outdoors in general?

Jess Beauchemin: Hiking opens doors to the outdoors. I can walk almost anywhere. And where I can't walk, I climb. But much of the public land around us is accessible by foot. I have learned to read maps, use a compass, and plan ahead to get to places that are both on and off trail. It brings me great pride in my homeland. I value the outdoor space and have learned to practice Leave No Trace in order to leave the land as I found it (or better) so that others may enjoy the same experiences.

OP: What hiking goals are on your bucket list?

Jess Beauchemin: To complete all the hikes in the book 75 Scrambles in Oregon and summit the 100 highest peaks in Oregon.

OP: When did you start to become interested in the outdoors? Did you spend a lot of time outside as a child, or did your interest develop later?

Jess Beauchemin: I spent a good portion of my childhood outdoors. I remember summer camping trips with my family when I was in elementary school. As my brother and I got older we shifted to visiting theme parks and tourist destinations on summer vacation. As an adolescent and college student, I was not interested or engaged with the outdoors. When I completed my first full year of teaching high school in my mid-20s, I decided I wanted to go on a camping trip after school was out. None of my friends wanted to go, but I was determined to reconnect with this memory. I went on that camping and hiking trip alone and I've been hooked on hiking ever since.

OP: Who introduced you?

Jess Beauchemin: My dad is my inspiration for being an outdoorsperson. He orchestrated our childhood camping trips and encouraged my brother and I to play outside. He enjoyed camping, canoeing, fishing and hiking, and his affection for outdoor activities was passed on to me. I am still inspired by my dad, and he accompanied me on my last hike for a personal hiking project that I completed in May: Hike366.

OP: Are there causes and/or organizations that you feel are particularly effective in protecting your access to these places?  

Jess Beauchemin: There are many local organizations that protect our wild spaces. Locally, Oregon Natural Desert Association advocates for protecting places in the Oregon High Desert, places that are very special to me.

OP: Aside from the 10 essentials, what are three things that you always take with you when you hike?

Jess Beauchemin: I always carry an edible treat, which usually involves chocolate or a home-baked good. I carry a camera to attempt to capture memorable moments. I try not to carry too many extras so I can feel light on my feet.

OP: Day hikes or overnight backpacks?

Jess Beauchemin: Day hikes.

OP: From your experience, which state/region has the best hiking diversity? Why?

Jess Beauchemin: Oregon. There's a little of everything: forest, coast, mountains, desert, canyons, hills, valleys...dry side, wet side, high and low elevations. All sorts of hiking to be done year round.

OP: Solo hiking or with someone?

Jess Beauchemin: Solo. Solo hiking is a moving meditation. I am present, I am paying attention, I am completely immersed in the moment. I like feeling independent and responsible for myself. I feel most empowered when I'm hiking alone.

OP: What's the most ambitious hike you've ever done?

Jess Beauchemin: Early on in my hiking experience I decided to tackle the Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire. This 24-mile route passes over 10 summits and gains nearly 10,000 feet in elevation along the way. I completed it with a group of people I met on the internet on a cool, foggy day in May! The odds were against me in every respect, but I reached the trailhead, where we'd spotted a car just before sunset, singing to help me forget the pain. It was definitely one of the toughest hikes I've ever done, and I learned so much from doing it.

OP: Boots or sneakers?

Jess Beauchemin: Sneakers. Boots are heavy and usually unnecessary unless I'm hiking through snow.

OP: GPS or compass?

Jess Beauchemin: Both: GPS as a backup! Everyone should know how to use a map and compass. They don't run out of battery power.


#WhyIHike Photo Contest with Eddie Bauer

You can get involved by taking photos and videos from the trail all summer long and posting them to Instagram or Twitter and tag @eddiebauer #contest #whyihike through September 30, 2018.

Each month, Eddie Bauer's panel of judges will select 25 semifinalists who will receive a $100 Eddie Bauer gift card and be entered into the competition to win the grand prize.

At the end of the contest period, one grand prize winner will choose between a trip to Kauai, Yosemite or Whistler, BC, for an all-expenses paid hiking adventure of a lifetime. Read the full details and rules here.


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