Photo Credit: Missy Wilson in Alaska
Traveler Story: Venturing Out On An All-Women Expedition In Alaska
Missy Wilson is proof that it doesn’t matter if you take a break from your outdoor travel passion due to marriage and a baby. What matters is jumping back in. Wilson recently completed a 26-mile remote hike in Alaska over the course of eight days.
“I’m feeling very invincible right now. I don’t know when that will calm down,” she jokingly tells Travel Noire. “All the things we did out there, crossing rivers and climbing, hitting inclines you didn’t think you could do, I learned that the word ‘can’t’ is literally not in my vocabulary anymore.”
Reconnecting After Relocating
Participating in outdoor activities such as hiking and canoeing has always been a big part of Wilson’s life. Her love for adventures outdoors began after her aunt introduced a young Wilson to Georgia’s iconic Stone Mountain.
It’s a love that she carried with her in college and early adulthood. To put it simply: being outside is synonymous with breathing for her.
She took a step back for nearly a decade with marriage, a new job, a move to another state, and the incredible honor of becoming a mom.
But all that changed in 2021.
Like so many people, the pandemic had a way of inspiring Wilson to find new hobbies and reignite old passions. She made a list of 20 things she wanted to explore and to no surprise, getting outdoors was a priority on the list in her new home in Houston.
After some research, she found the Black Women Who Kayak+ (BWWK+) group in Austin.
Months after joining the group, she was ready to take on her next big quest: a remote hike for eight days.
Black Women Enjoy The Outdoors, Too
BWWK+ was founded in 2018 by Tanya Walker. Walker’s purpose was to get more Black women outside and explore nature.
In 2022, BWWK+ received a $12,500 grant from Grape-Nuts to make the remote Alaskan trek possible.
Grape-Nuts donated up to $125,000 to deserving women using GoFundMe to raise money to climb to new heights and explore uncharted territory for Women’s History Month.
She was chosen as one of nine incredible pioneering women to receive a $12,500 grant from Grape-Nuts cereal to make the trip possible.
For Wilson, she says the trip challenged her to be better.
“I’ve never pushed my body to this physical and mental space,” she says. “Everything we did was outdoors…cooking, sleeping, and using the restroom in all types of weather conditions. I thought it would be a lot harder. I haven’t been without my iPhone for 15 years, and turning it off was amazing.”
But the most rewarding part of the trip is the representation in the outdoor space.
“I grew up not seeing many Black people outdoors,” she says. “After the trip, I was out to lunch with my nephew and showed him photos, and he said he couldn’t wait to do it.” That was big for me. I saw my aunt outdoors, my nephew saw me, and my son is going to see me. They will know that [being outside] is not anything to doubt or fear. The outdoors is for everyone.”