At some point in our interview, Jenny Bertram starts recalling her childhood. Her trip down memory lane before a webcam in Boulder, US, is captivating to listen to, thousands of kilometres away across the ocean at the Hanwag headquarter in Vierkirchen, Germany. Jenny’s childhood involves a trip around the world, back in time to Wisconsin, the Great Lakes, white beaches and the deep and endless forest. It sounds like paradise. She joyfully recalls running through the forest when she “was about seven” and being something of an elfin-like child, but a wild, free spirit at the same time. She skipped over rocks, listened to the hum of bumblebees and the roar of bullfrogs, the buzz of mosquitoes and enjoyed feeling the sun’s rays. “I wasn’t aware that there was another world outside,” she said. It didn’t interest her either. “I only wanted to be outdoors.”

Today, Jenny’s over 50 but still likes roaming the forests, but a little more to the west now, in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado. However, her inner child has never left her. She says as much herself: “That will always be a part of me.” She remarks that she still is somewhat untamed even if people might not think so at first glance. She reckons that “all of us have that side in us.”

The big picture in mind

The journey back to her childhood is also one marked by the typical rich tapestries of life. She speaks about the death of a good friend and of being burnt out when she was young. From then on, she focused on seeing the big picture instead of just small chapters, such as why people get sick and that many things start because your soul’s broken. Anyone who, like she does, takes a holistic approach, is constantly observing and learning. She says that she “enjoys taking deep dives” and her sentences frequently start with phrases like “I enjoy” or “I love” For instance, she says “I love old stories and lore.”

“I love being surrounded by nature. It teaches us everything.”

Jenny Bertram
Being just herself - without makeup, without a posh frock. That's what Jenny appreciates when she's out in the woods near her home in Boulder, Colorado.

So, it’s no surprise that Jenny has two college degrees, one in traditional Chinese medicine and a master of divinity in Buddhist studies. What’s more, she spent several years practising and improving her skill set, for instance, by learning about the five pillars of Chinese medicine and its various elements, or acupuncture to nutrition and meditation. She’s currently focusing on her role as a Qigong teacher.

But alongside all these qualifications, the great outdoors with its forests, mountains, lakes, and streams is waiting. “I love being surrounded by nature. It teaches us everything,” said Jenny.

She comments that she goes hiking at least three to four times a week and that nature is never far away. She explains that Qigong involves moving your body “like a river, a tiger, or bamboo in the wind.” Listening to her talk, although she’s on the other side of the world in Boulder, she’s so inspiring, you can’t help but want to take a deep dive into yourself and head off into the mountains.

5 Questions for Jenny

You live in the Southwest of the United States. Does your whole life revolve around the mountains? Or do you like the ocean too?

I really need to be close to water. I virtually grew up on Wisconsin’s Great Lakes and spent a magical part of my life on the Pacific. Today, as a mountain girl in the iconic Rockies, I love mountain streams and lakes – perhaps even more than the vast ocean.

What’s your favourite place to go hiking? Is there one special spot near to where you live in Boulder?

I know the Indian Peaks Wilderness like the back of my hand. The area also has some uncharted paths and secret places with alpine pastures, beautiful mountain lakes and old reservoirs…. These are my spaces in the hinterland, at least five miles from civilisation where you can really be at one with nature.

Your nickname’s J-Bird. Why?

Even as a child, some of my friends used to call me J-Bird. Because I was often a bundle of energy. Just like a little bird, I often used to fly round and round on my own. Today, I’ve got tattoos of birds all over my body and clearly have a spiritual connection with my feathered friends. They’re always drawn to me, even the eagles. I’m surrounded by them and love it.

You even call yourself a real punk rocker. But what does that mean for you?

I like being out and about in the forests because I don’t have to wear any makeup or a posh frock there. I can just be myself. That’s punk rock. Nature is punk rock, badass, fantastic, wonderful, and gritty. What’s more, music is a huge part of my life. I love live music, I love poetic old school punk such as Patti Smith, The Replacements or Sonic Youth. It fills us with joy and you can just let go, just like you can in the great outdoors.

If you had to pick a way of getting about, would you choose a car, bike or your own two feet?

I’d always want to walk. I like the pace of walking and carrying a backpack. My husband’s a keen cyclist and I encourage him. But I’d always go on foot, even if I had to cover several miles. I like unrushing my world.

Hanwag Lhasa II Lady

Jenny’s favourite boot: HANWAG Lhasa II

“I love my Lhasa with the flexibility around the heel and the hard-wearing nature of the yak leather. It’s a very tough boot for the stony trails in the Rockies and not that heavy. It’s the perfect hiking boot for me.”

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