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Long Distance Backpacking | Equipment | Race/Gender/Privilege 101 | Hiking While Brown
Long Distance Backpacking
After Speshul 41 took me to my first Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff, I started diving into more practical resources that’d help prepare me for the ins and outs of long-distance hiking on the (P)CT. I found these not-blog resources particularly useful. None of these folks are paying me, but note that your mileage may vary.
Backpacker Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike
“Every so often a book comes along, finds broad acceptance, and becomes the bible of a sport. This book is destined to rise to that position among long-trail hiking guides.” So say the judges of the National Outdoor Book Awards, and I wholeheartedly agree. Liz “Snorkel” Thomas, aka fellow hiker of color, aka badass Triple Crowner with 15,000+ miles under her feet, wrote a book about backpacking long distances that was so dope that said National Outdoor Book Awards gave it top honors in the “Instructional” category in 2017. It’s 300+ pages of advice, tips, and tricks from everyone from Heather “Anish” Anderson, speed record holder extraordinare, to yours truly, after finishing the Colorado Trail. If you’re just getting off the couch or looking to up your game, this is a useful book.
These guides – to the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Colorado Trail – are super, super useful for would-be thruhikers who have only a vague sense of how much planning can go into a thruhike. They contain multiple perspectives on gear choices, timing, resupply strategies, and everything in between. I couldn’t put my PCT copy down when I first got it, and I actually ended up doing a (vague) resupply plan for the Colorado Trail using Yogi’s CT guide. There are also updates for older editions every year, so you don’t have to wonder whether those phone numbers in your 2014 guide still work.
This book talks a little bit of everything: navigation, weather forecasting, fording rivers, choosing a campsite, gear selection, gear maintenance, gear repair… the list goes on. I found it to be a great introduction to backpacking by Justin “Trauma” Lichter – who has 35,000+ miles under his belt and who, alongside Sean “Pepper” Forrey, completed a winter thru-hike of the PCT in 2014-2015. I think it’s pretty safe to say that this gentleman knows what he’s talking about.
Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips
Two things about this book: first, it’s kind of hilarious, and second, if I didn’t have a certain Speshul 41 always pushing me to re-evaluate my gear and carry less, this book would’ve been that impetus for me. Clearly, I’m not what
a lot of people some people maybe anyone would necessarily call “ultralight” at a 15-ish pound baseweight, but left to my own devices, I probably would’ve carried waaaaay more stuff than I did on my Colorado Trail hike. I’m glad I didn’t, and I’m looking forward to shedding more weight as I get more money and get my pack contents down to a science.
I’m sure you fine folks know about the big and smaller box stores – Amazon, REI, Backcountry.com, Moosejaw, and suchlike – but here are some reviewers/retailers that I used while putting my kit together. None of these folks are paying me, either, but note that here, too, your mileage may vary.
Sponsor of my PCT hike, and purveyor of rad hiking and climbing equipment. I’m carrying some of their equipment, and have been really happy with my experience.
Outdoor Gear Lab
The best gear review and comparison site I’ve found, hands down. When I was looking for a coat to keep me warm, this was the site I stumbled across, and I’m glad I did. The awesome part about these folks is that they buy everything at cost, then review it – you don’t really have to worry about biases or beating around the bush when it comes to these guys. If they don’t like it, they’ll say. If they love it, they’ll say.
Ultralight Adventure Equipment
ULA is well-known and well-loved in the long-distance backpacking community, and I’m definitely a fan. My Circuit is kind of my baby – my bright blue and neon orange baby – and it’s still going strong after 3100 miles. I’m thinking about getting their Ohm 2.0 or CDT for future/shorter backpacks – assuming my base weight actually goes down and I can get my food dialed in.
Soooo this website looks kind of sketchy, but I got my Marmot Plasma for nigh-on $300 off when I shopped through these guys. They sell mostly discontinued items – so they don’t have everything or even lots of things – but what they have is sometimes heavily discounted. When I ordered from them, I thought I was getting an old model of Plasma, but I ended up with the latest, so it’s not necessarily all discontinued stuff.
While I just signed up for it, I’ve had a lot of friends get lucky on Massdrop’s Ultralight community, getting even cottage-industry gear for up to 70% off. I’m not a huge fan of the sign-in services – just another bit of spam in my inbox when I’m not looking to spend money – but the deals here might be worth it.
So clearly, anything linked here isn’t the end-all be-all in terms of articles, blogs, and suchlike you can find on the subjects of race/gender/sexuality and their relations to power/privilege, but it can be hard to find a place to start. This list is simply meant to provide a starting point curated by one brown girl with one particular perspective. I’m certainly not the end-all-be-all about any of this stuff, so if you find your interest piqued, by all means, keep surfing.
(NOTE BEFORE READING: The first rule of the internet is to never read the bottom half of the internet, also known as the comments section, particularly on articles containing any sort of opinion. The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is about as accurate as the “theory” of gravity. I absolutely encourage you to engage with these articles in the presence of friends/loved ones/strangers in cafes [lemme know how that works out for you], but internet comments sections are wretched, echo-chamber-y hives of scum and villainy.)
5 Helpful Answers To Society’s Most Uncomfortable Questions
This is generally the article I share with people when they ask me for something approachable re: race/gender/privilege. Yeah, okay, this is a kind-of-all-over-the-place Cracked listicle, but David Wong is one of the better folks I’ve found for using broad context to get to the heart of the matter, particularly on harder topics. I also find that something serious interspersed with humor is one of the best ways to learn. Stick with this one all the way ’til the end.
Weeeell the titles got “inflammatory” real quick. This one’s still pretty amazing, though. Written in the wake of the Charleston Church Shooting, the author enumerates how hard it is to talk about race, but how important it is to do so.
7 Reasons Why Reverse Racism Doesn’t Exist
So since we’re blatantly talking about racism and racists, this article heads off cries of reverse racism by asserting that it doesn’t exist. What it elides, and what I’ll state for the record, is that people of color can absolutely be prejudiced, sure, but a majority of the time, they don’t have the power to exclude (partiuclarly) white people from… pretty much anything. Racism, as it exists in the US, is systemic, not personal, as the article suggests. There are also six other reasons the article gives, all of which are useful for structuring one’s thinking about race.
Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person
I grew up in the Midwest, where, shortly after my birth, manufacturing and other types of “honest” work jumped ship and floated off to other countries. As such, there wasn’t a ton of privilege to go around – at least, not class privilege, anyway. This article discusses – and, I believe, usefully critiques – Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by addressing the intersectionality of class and other types of privilege.
Why Our Feminism Must Be Intersectional (And 3 Ways to Practice It)
This is almost a 201 piece, but I think it dovetails nicely with the last piece, as it discusses intersectionality in detail. While it focuses on feminism in particular, I feel like it could just as easily be “Why Our Lives Must Be Intersectional”. Solid read.
There are sO MANY THINGS I WANT TO SHARE but a lot of them are 201/301 status – so maybe someday. I’ll definitely be adding to this section as time allows/as I find shiny new things to share.
Hiking while Brown, and other resources about the Outdoors+Brownness+Excellence
Hikers of Color Facebook Group
This group is a space to connect with other hikers of color, ask questions about hikes, find people to hike with, and see rad pictures of black and brown folk out on the trails. Similar to the Women of the PCT page, this space has been designated for hikers of color only. Both sites have good information with less trolling than I’ve seen on a lot of other hiking pages.
The Trail Posse
This site is great. This site is so great. It’s all about connecting people of color to the outdoors in general and National Parks in particular. I strive to be more like The Trail Posse.
A national outdoors organization dedicated to getting African American folks and families outside. I’m a little disappointed that there seems to be no way to get involved in Colorado as of yet – though there are meetup groups for several states/locations – but I’ll be keeping my eye out for ways to get involved.
Big City Mountaineers
This is an awesome non-profit organization operating out of the Front Range, the Bay Area, and Minnesota that strives to get under-resourced urban youth into the outdoors for day hikes, overnight trips, and 7-day excursions. My Colorado Trail and Pacific Crest Trail thruhikes featured a fundraiser for them, and I’m looking forward to maybe volunteering with them soon.
Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African-Americans to the Great Outdoors
This book is a good jumping-off point to many other great works that talk about why black culture as a whole doesn’t seem to be super keen on getting outside – and the ways that’s changing, and the people helping to change it. Carolyn Finney is one of my idols. Other works that are similar-but-different include Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape, and The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors. I’m always looking for book recommendations, so if you’ve got a good one hit me up.
Liz Thomas: Long Distance Adventure Hiking
Liz “Snorkel” Thomas, also mentioned above, is a generally badass hiker – in addition to that Triple Crown and those 15,000 miles, she also once held the AT’s women’s unsupported speed record. She does all sorts of awesome (thru)hikes all over, including urban thruhiking, where she walks all the different neighborhoods of various large cities. Her site also features her gear reviews, hiking film reviews, and general hiking news.
11 thoughts on “Useful Links”
I’m sorry, but racism is racism. It doesn’t matter the colors involved. To try and pretend otherwise is insulting to anybody that has been discriminated against. It is offensive to people that you link an article from a horrible racist like that. The comments on her tirade rightly blast her for her own racism and blindness. Disappointed in you.
So I don’t know which article you’re talking about – particularly since I never read the bottom half of the Internet. The comments section on any article – particularly ones on touchy subjects – are bound to be echo chambers of one sort or another. Wretched hives of scum and villainy, one might say.
That said, I would argue that racism – by which I assume you mean the dictionary definition of the term – isn’t racism, or at least isn’t the racism I talk about here. Is prejudice prejudice? Absolutely, and this is where everyone falls that has been discriminated against, be it for race/gender/sexuality/ability/age/whatever. Is race-based prejudice race-based prejudice? Sure, for the same reason. But the racism I talk about on this blog – and the racism these articles talk about – isn’t someone screaming “nigger” or “cracker” at you while you’re putting your groceries in your car. (Every place and every race has assholes.) The racism I/the articles talk about is systemic, such that certain people – namely, white people – are considered the norm, and everyone else is considered abberant, often to the point of dehumanization, and particularly to the point of being denied, and then blamed for, not having a “normal” (read: white) life.
For example, various stereotypes about white people – say, that they “can’t jump”, as the movie suggests – do they make all white people seem inhuman? Criminal? Lazy to the point of denying them jobs? Or is there enough understanding of variation among white people that, as I’ve found among my white friends, that such stereotypes affect them very little? This does not exist at present for brown folk – and as such, such stereotypes have a very real, very palpable effect on their lives.
So I’m sorry if you’re offended by their/my explanation of systemic racism, but the fact that systemic racism exists offends me. So we’ll just have to be offended together.
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7 reasons why reverse racism doesn’t exist link is what I’m talking about. It says that white people can’t be the victim of racism. That is pure crap. If you live in a city where whites are a minority and the positions of power are held by blacks, then you can be the victim of racism. Sure, it is less common than racisim against blacks/browns/asians/etc….but it can exist.
The brown girl has a lot of walking to do, but she took the time to give you an extensive, well-thought out, and surprisingly polite response to your condescending and frankly insane claims that YOU as a white person are somehow the real victim of racism. You could have at least tried to offer some logic to support your own position beyond “that’s pure crap” – if there were any such logic to be found in the first place.
If you’re offended by the elucidation of simple realities, and clinging to insane fantasies where “Blacks” are perpetuating racism against a white minority, it is obvious there is no reaching you with reasoned argument. These links may provide helpful information and ideas to those who can be.
You, however, may want to go back to whatever darkened corner of the internet tolerates your white-victimhood fantasies. You’ve found they don’t hold up in the light of day, and you’ve got nothing left to offer but anger.
Sooo we’re talking theory vs. reality, given that the US has few, if any, such enclaves? If you have examples of places where black people have gotten into positions of (particularly governmental) power without, in some ways, either co-opting or working within the system of white supremacy – which involves working with, not against, white people – do give some examples. Otherwise, you’re saying that theory trumps lived reality, which is disingenuous.
Meanwhile, while I’d like to also address the problematic “angry black woman” trope you’ve invoked, I don’t know that I’m not being trolled. So in lieu of that, have another useful link. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/white-fragility-is-racial_b_8151054.html
First, I categorically reject the false premise that that racism requires power to exist. The actual definition is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Second, I will link you to some reality checks since you seem to be insulated into your won mindset and reality based on the links you posted.
You want a black dominated city? Try New Orleans. 60% black. When the BLACK mayor Nagin took power he beat our 3 other BLACK candidates. “Chocolate City” “
When you’re used to privilege, equality seems like oppression.
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Also, we’re both set in our mindsets. Let’s not kid ourselves there.
Also-also, language is a living thing, and I feel it’s reaching to use the dictionary definition of a term in an argument. Prescriptivist, if you will.
Also-also-also, “I” statements, if you please. None of this ad hominem stuff.
Lastly, one city – which, given the cluster that was the response to Katrina, I’d argue NOLA doesn’t really make your point – neither disproves nor dismantles systemic racism. Even if it is a “Chocolate City”.
Baseless attack there as I never claimed to be the victim of racism. However, her link says that reverse racism can’t exist. That is simply not true. Please read and comprehend before butting in. thanks.
The only people changing the definition are a small group of black people that want to pretend that reverse racism can’t exist. My mindset is constantly evolving. I understand much more about the mindset of minorities and their feeling thanks to a expanding array of friends.
To pretend that their are not cities, communities, towns, companies, or other areas where blacks can be racist to whites (or anybody else) is quite unbelievable to me. I gave you the first and quickest city I knew about. Just because the response to Katrina was poor, it doesn’t mean that WITHIN the city that discrimination against whites can’t or doesn’t exist. You keep making excuses to try and justify your prejudice. Why can’t you accept that while racism against whites occurs much less often, it can still occur?
Kind of a #notallmen argument there, isn’t it? Frankly, your links are less than convincing, certainly not “reality checks.” One is a based on data from clickbait survey site with very little credibility, one is from a student opinion piece that has difficulty differentiating racism from prejudice, and the third….oh man. How do I even begin with the hate-rag that is “FrontPageMag?”
Yes. In theory, and certainly in other countries, racism against “white” people is not only possible, but an every day reality. Those places, however, aren’t here in the United States. The assumption that a community with black leadership, (New Orleans) is racist against the minority white inhabitants simply by dent of being in power is as absurd as labeling all communities with a predominately white leadership inherently racist against those of other skin tones.
And yes, the definition of racism is based in concept. In reality, if you don’t have any power over anyone else, it doesn’t matter much what you think of them, in the macro sense.
The bottom line is, while racism CAN go the other way, it currently DOESN’T by any reasonable scientific metric in these here United States. And furthermore, the article you’re railing against never said it couldn’t. It said it didn’t. Big difference between CAN and DOES.
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