I’m a BIPOC Hiker Taking on the Triple Crown
My name is Gina Knox. I travel throughout the US to hike and photograph new spaces as a part of my commitment to physical and mental well-being and a life of continued education. Some of my goals are to travel the world to discover other cultures, learn a new language, travel to physically trace my ancestry, and help people reach their goals with herbal medicine. I begin my journey to complete the Triple Crown next spring with the AT class of 2021.
My love for the outdoors and photography has led me to a life increasingly more centered around the earth and all it gives, and while looking beyond a life where I’ve previously felt bound by social norms, I fell in love with the freedom and boundlessness of hiking.
The beauty of the Blue Ridge is like something I had never seen in the Midwest, and it’s what drew me to the Appalachian Trail. The physical and mental roadblocks that I’ve surpassed since then and the ability to examine things in life that were seemingly complex while enjoying the simplicity of nature is why I continue to hike. Setting new goals to reach new peaks and seeing no way back but only forward to finish what I set out to do directly translates to how I live my everyday life and is how I aspire to live even if detoured.
While my previous hiking experiences have not been particularly unpleasant, the current lack of diversity and underrepresentation of BIPOC in outdoor spaces combined with today’s increasing open hostility against BIPOC have caused unforeseen mental roadblocks that come with the heightened awareness that I am often the only Black person in any given outdoor space that I enter.
Scrolling through the comments of so many large outdoor community pages and being met with the backlash to calls for diversification and the denial of racial tensions and exclusion in the community does not come without consequence.
For me it comes with a renewed realization that while on trail, being who I am means that my presence is unwanted more than I realized. Knowing that the lack of representation in outdoor spaces and fear bred by open displays of hatred aimed at BIPOC communities may contribute to BIPOC being hesitant to enter these spaces, I feel more than ever that now is the time to move my dream forward to journey and complete the Triple Crown, remaining present in the outdoors as an active part of the diversification of representation in the community to include long-distance hiking. I will begin my journey to complete the Triple Crown starting with the Appalachian Trail in the spring of 2021. I look forward to being a part of what already looks like a more diversified thru-hike class than previous years as awareness of the push for diversity, inclusion, and acceptance continues to spread throughout the outdoor community.
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