Photo Credit: Courtesy of BlackGirlsTrekkin'
Healing With Hiking With BlackGirlsTrekkin
In 2011, Beyonce created the coveted women’s empowerment anthem “Run The World (Girls).” Under the syncopated drums and blaring background vocals, the Houston native put everyone on notice that the earth doesn’t move without the power, ingenuity and poise of women.
Tiffany Tharpe is an example of this power through the organization she co-founded, Black Girls Trekkin’.
According to its website, Black Girls Trekkin’ is an organization established to show the world that not only do Black girls and women hike, they have a thirst for adventure that is often underrepresented or unacknowledged.
From Animal Patient Rooms To The Great Outdoors
During the day, Tharpe works as a veterinarian assistant. But when she’s not providing care to animals, she fully embraces her life as a hiking enthusiast.
Several years ago, Tharpe discovered hiking after one of life’s most common tragedies: a breakup. Using outside time as a means for self-care, she realized there was more about the outdoors to embrace.
“When I got outside, I just realized that the world is much bigger than your problems. I felt like I wasn’t even thinking about my problems. I was too absorbed in the trees and following the stream and all the nature around me,” Tharpe said.
With no real training or guidance around the activity, she admitted that hiking was an effort that began with her dog. The more she discovered on the trails, the more she fell in love with it.
A Higher Purpose
By reconnecting with nature through the trees, sounds and the touch of water, hiking represents a healing force for Tharpe.
“I always say nature is my therapist. Getting outside helps clear your head space, reset your mind and bring joy,” she shared.
The therapeutic aura of being outdoors is doubly essential for Tharpe as a Black woman. With so much social and civil unrest in the news, she uses her outside time to silence the noise and get away from it all, if only for a few moments.
The Power Of Community
Tharpe’s hikes soon evolved beyond her solo journeys. While on the trails, she noticed people like her wanted to get outdoors. Realizing that one of the barriers to entry for many activities is a representative community of practice, Tharpe understood that creating a space for others like her could expand openness toward hiking.
The urge to build community was how Black Girls Trekkin’ was born. Co-founded in 2017 with Michelle Race, Tharpe wanted to increase diversity and inclusion by creating a safe space for Black women to go outside and enjoy nature.
“Looking back at it, it’s been really rewarding. Seeing the community it’s built, we see people who have become friends and go on their own little hikes or even go to dinner with each other,” Tharpe stated.
Breaking The Stigma
Stereotypes suggest that hiking isn’t something Black people do. However, Tharpe is committed to breaking the stigmas and ensuring people interested in outdoor activities have the space and knowledge to do so.
“The most important part is to research the trail. A lot of people go and don’t know what they are getting into. So, it’s important to know the terrain you’re going into, whether it’s a mountain or beach. You don’t want to end up doing a three-mile hike that’s going straight up a mountain. Just do research before you go out into nature,” Tharpe explained.
Beyond the stereotypical tropes about outdoor activities, Tharpe believes the biggest challenge for Black people to be more involved is accessibility. In many predominantly underserved neighborhoods, there’s not a lot of access to green spaces. Tharpe hopes this will one day change and that Black people will find spaces that get them more involved outdoors.
Black And Outdoors
As a morning person, Tharpe loves rising very early and being in areas surrounded by water. Proud of what her body can accomplish through the activity, Tharpe is enamored by the beauty of nature and gets lost in its allure.
For those looking to step outside for the first time or level up their activities, Tharpe suggests investing in hiking shoes with good grip, packing water for hydration and preserving the area by taking back whatever they bring in.
If anyone needs more inspiration, follow Tharpe’s lead. She rewards herself with tacos after each hike. Serene ambiance, dope vibes and tacos as a treat? It sounds like a winning combination.
To learn more about Tharpe and the impact of Black Girls Trekkin’ to bring inclusivity to the space, click here.
This editorial was brought to you in partnership with GMC. Watch this clip featuring BlackGirlsTrekkin below: