Beads of cool sweat begin to evaporate as a light breeze whips by my dampened face. I peer out onto a sea of trees that decorate the mountainside that I am perched upon that morning. I take a moment to look past the large white iconic Hollywood sign, and beyond the natural landscape to where the bustling city of Los Angeles begins to wake up and leave the buildings that adorn the picturesque skyline. I look back to the group of young women of color dressed in ballcaps and cute workout gear and smile before I take a sip of water from a plastic squirt bottle that has been covered with stickers from outdoorsy organizations. One of those stickers with the words “Black Girls Trekkin” sits in front of a silhouette of a redwood or tall pine tree.
I joined the group Black Girls Trekkin’ about a year ago not too long after the group first gathered together to explore abundant natural beauty within their own backyard. I have always found myself hiking on the weekends with friends, and I even joined an adventure club in college, but those experiences, although amazing, do not compare to the connections I have made with young women from all over the country who look like me.
I’ve written before about the importance of representation and the negative stereotypes that surround the African-American community. I’ve also discussed how many African-American would-be adventure seekers become discouraged because of the lack of diversity depicted in popular culture. These stereotypes too, on occasion, has even affected the way I view myself when I venture out into the beautiful wilderness without other similar faces.
Black Girls Trekkin’ caught my eye with a bright and sunny Instagram photo featuring a group of young black women enjoying the outdoors. I jumped at the chance to join the positive and friendly group of women from all backgrounds as I read more about their mission on their Facebook group page to provide more representation, diversity, inclusion, education, and conservation when it comes to the outdoors.
Up above the Hollywood hills, the group gathers together to take a photo from behind the cinematic-worthy sign. Although I have hiked similar routes to get to the Hollywood sign, I revel at the thought that I have taken a new and more challenging path which concluded in another scenic perspective. I continue smiling as I think back to all the wonderful conversations I had, the friends I was able to catch up with, and the new people that I was able to meet along the way up the mountain.
Venturing out into nature on my own has always been a rewarding experience but meeting up with a group of wonderful women who I would now consider close friends has been an amazing life-changing adventure.