When I first started this blog in the fall of 2014, planning to hike the PCT in the spring of 2015, I did so partly because I love to write and my mother I wanted a place where I could prove I hadn’t been eaten by a bear share my experiences, being human and a woman and brown and hiking.
I also did so partly after having inquired around the PCT community and scouted around and done quite a bit of Googling, finding that there seemed to be no place, no person that would tell me, as a black woman, about what to expect re: socio-racial relations on the trail. At least, not that I could find.
I mean, I’d been to the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff at that point, and the members of the trail community I met there gave a seeming zero fucks about my skin color, but I was concerned about the isolation of the trail towns – having grown up in the Midwest, where sundown towns1 were a thing that had still existed within my lifetime, said isolation of said trail towns left me with concerns about not only dealing with resupplying and showering and making it to the post office before it closed, but also having to deal with racism, subtle or overt, to boot. I didn’t think I was going to have any trouble, but I wanted to be as prepared as I could be – just in case2.
Eventually, after playing Six Degrees of Black Lady Hikers, I was referred to the one black lady PCT hiker that anyone could think of – whom I asked, maybe too bluntly, about race relations on trail and in towns. Whether she didn’t feel like responding or forgot to respond or the message is still loitering unread in her “other” inbox, I never got a response3.
Still, I knew I clearly wasn’t the first black person who’d wanted to do something like this, and I clearly couldn’t be the only one wondering about this kind of stuff. There absolutely were more black folk, more brown folk, outdoors doing cool stuff. I knew there were, even if I couldn’t find them.
And I don’t know if it’s just the difference a year and a half makes or getting to know more outdoorsy brown folk who know other outdoorsy brown folk or what, but I’m learning more and more about amazing hikers and outdoorsfolk, awesome communities of color focused on outdoor pursuits, and even scholars talking about communities of color being outdoors and doing awesome things, people like:
Elise “Chardonnay” Walker, who hiked the PCT last year and is on the AT at present;
Miguel “VirGo” Aguilar, a filmmaker working on a documentary about the Trail Angels on the PCT who’s a CDT and two-time PCT hiker;
Elizabeth “Snorkel” Thomas, a Triple Crowner and former AT unsupported speed record holder;
Eddy Harris, most famous for canoeing the length of the Mississippi in the 1980s(!) and again in 2014 for a film project;
Trail Posse, a website connecting people of color to National Parks and outdoor pursuits,
Outdoor Afro, an organization dedicated to getting African American folks and families outside.
…And I know there have to be many, many more4.
Not all of them make reference to their brownness, but then, they shouldn’t have to; of all people, I know that color doesn’t matter, people are people are people. Still, it’s telling to me that I’m not at all fazed by the prospect of hiking 2,650 miles by myself with 3000+ other people, but the prospect of being one of the only folk of color5 on trail has, at times, given me pause.
TL;DR6 I am so, so, glad I’m not alone.
 I actually went to high school in a town that, not two decades prior, had been a sundown town. I lost count of the racially-motivated fights at school.
 Everyone gets prepared for snakes and bears and lightning and snow in the Sierra and how to resupply and and and – to me, this was just another part of being prepared. Any such reports weren’t going to stop me, but knowledge would certainly be power, in such a case.
 I love seeing the cool stuff she does outside, though – we’re still friends on Facebook.
 If anyone knows someone who blogs/writes/films/teaches/advocates/et al., I’d love to hear about them!
 Let alone women of color.
 Too long; didn’t read.