Nature Doesn’t Discriminate
Back in 2016, I set out to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. After 600 miles, I ended my hike due to complications with my implanted neuromodulation system. Upon return from life on the trails, I had surgery to replace the broken parts of my system. Being inactive during the recovery period mixed with feelings of failure for not completing the 2,660-mile trek left me depressed. With that depression came a period of sadness, overeating, and excessive weight gain. Eight months after my return from the trail, I’d gain nearly 40 pounds (equating to all the pounds I lost while hiking, putting me back at the same start weight).
In talking to a friend, I expressed discontent about not finishing the PCT and the lack of support from my peers. Many of whom aren’t outdoorsy and couldn’t empathize or fully understand. She, a cisgendered white woman, shared with me some information about a summit hosted by a collective known as PGM ONE (People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and Environment). I was gifted a scholarship to attend and was amazed to connect with so many black, indigenous, and people of color/of the global majority who like myself believes in the power of nature as well as environmental justice.
At the summit, I shared my PCT journey and was taught that the narrative was paramount. Meaning, I could share the story as a defeat because I did not complete the trail or as a triumph because I solo hiked 600 miles. I also learned about adventure therapy and the use of nature as a form of healing. I applied for, was accepted, and recently graduated from Prescott College with a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, in Adventure Therapy & Adventure Education. Graduating during a pandemic amid civil unrest, as police brutality upon Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) is becoming visible to the world, is rather disheartening.
One thing I know is that nature has never discriminated, nor is she hateful. On Saturday, July 4, 2020, I plan to begin a 300+ mile thru-hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. I’m hiking for a few reasons; it brings me joy, it’s what I went to school for, it is a peaceful form of solidarity and support for the current Black Lives Matter movement, and to raise awareness about PGM One. And to shed light on and understanding of the healing power of nature.
Due to the rapidly evolving outbreak of COVID–19 and safety restrictions, be mindful that unforeseeable events might detour my journey. Subscribe and stay tuned for updates, know that as a responsible hiker and a protector of Mother Earth, I will adhere to all Superior Hiking Trail Association regulations (SHTA) and recommendations. As of June 1, hikers have been asked to limit group size to 10 or fewer. As a solo hiker, this won’t be a problem. The SHTA also recommends that you stay safe, sane, and sanitized—and do what you can to prevent the spread of the virus and as always adhere to Leave No Trace principles. And a Crystal Gail word of advice: practice common sense.
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