Strider of the Month: Pat Jewett

Interview by Ed Ryan

Pat Jewett
Grouper Social Ambassador
Portland, Oregon

Pat is arranging walks for walkers in the Portland, Oregon area. If you live in Portland and want to walk in a group and do some exploring, please contact Pat at

What initially drew you to walking as a form of exercise or leisure activity?
I’ve always backpacked, hiked and walked. In 2003 I was looking for people to walk and stay active with and I heard about the AVA (American Volkssport Association). I started doing their walking events and soon I became involved with their network of walking clubs and the AVA Association, as a publicity committee member. Through my walking over the years I have friends in Canada and all across the United States. Plus a core group of walking friends. I don’t think any organization creates a social connection that is both national and international quite like the AVA.

I retired in 2018 which has allowed me to fully immerse myself in walking. I am currently section hiking the Oregon Coast trail over three summers with a friend. I’ve done walking marathons, walk relays and the Burning Boot Walk on Vancouver Island. I really enjoy walking long distances in a day. The Burning Boot Walk was a 64 km walk from the towns of Tahsis to Campbell over a logging road. It began at 4am and the walk ended at 8pm. I liked that there was a possibility of bear encounters while walking.

Do you enjoy walking alone, or in a group setting? Or both?
I enjoy walking alone to immerse myself with my surroundings. In neighborhoods it is amazing how much wildlife is around, plus people have yards that are often park-like. Neighborhood walks are also fun because I find the sidewalks appeal to my sense of beauty, so my solo walks often are meandering walks. I enjoy walking with my friends but it is a different kind of walk – a faster pace and conversations to catch up with our lives, often followed by lunch in the area that we walked in. And there’s walking to empty my mind and allow for some creative thoughts to come to me. I write, so often a walk will help me when I feel stuck on something. I enjoy hiking and backpacking. It’s great to explore trails and be in nature and see the beauty that is more natural.

How does walking contribute to your overall physical and mental well-being?
No doubt walking is keeping me fit and my mind engaged. Plus the friends I have made through walking have kept me from becoming isolated. I think that is a big benefit because my lifestyle is such that I could easily isolate and not have many friends. Walking helps with my overall mood, it has made me stronger and I look at life one step at a time. I have friends who are in their nineties and upper eighties who still walk and stay very actively engaged. Of course, cancer and replacing knees or hips, or cataract surgery – those still go on but my friends’ recovery rates from surgery procedures always surprise their doctors.

Do you believe walking can play a key role in social connection and improved health?
Walking does keep people socially connected and it does improve health. There are numerous studies detailing how walking helps people who have diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and countless other medical conditions. Even doctors are prescribing walking to their patients. We are lucky to live in a time when there is a huge national movement towards making our cities and communities more walkable. The idea is to make it appealing to want to walk and run errands, or walk to a restaurant, or explore regional trails that connect to destinations like parks, museums or zoos. In this case, walking can be combined with transit to make it easier to get around.

What is your favorite walking route or destination, and what makes it special to you?
I am lucky to live near the University of Portland. They have a grotto area called Marian Garden. It is a quiet space with candles and I often walk there from my home and light a candle and reflect on my family and friends. I call those walks my mindful walks. The campus has old redwood trees and was a place where Lewis and Clark visited when they came on their discovery exploration.

Bonus question! What excites/interests you about joining GrouperWalks?
I enjoy being part of GrouperWalks as it fits all that I enjoy about walking. And I enjoy writing for GrouperWalks as I consider myself a nerdy walker. I have a blog which is an eclectic collection site for everything I have amassed about walking in the past 13 years.

I would really like to arrange walks for walkers in the Portland area. If you live in Portland and want to walk in a group and do some exploring, please contact me at