by Heather Diaz
Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month is about celebrating our cultures, histories, achievements, contributions, and more. As time passes, I feel it is more beneficial to me than someone who is non-Latino because this is when I learn the most about our culture.
This year I wanted to host as many group camping trips and hikes as possible. As I met more Latinos who love the outdoors – I’ve learned more and more about my culture and everyone else’s. We made each other feel at home, and it was beautiful.
Now my perspective and outdoor goals shifted. It taught me to tap into my cultura and learn how to integrate mas cultura afuera and share it with others.
Viewing it from this point of view and rewriting the narrative of recreating outdoors made this the summer the best summer ever for camping and hiking. I’ve never smiled ear-to-ear and felt “at home” outdoors as I did with the amazing people who camped with us.
It was a success, and we had many firsts for so many people. Whether it was a first camping trip, solo camping, camping with a dog, backpacking, venturing to the Sierra, driving to new places, solo road tripping, etc.
Those achievements and memories inspire me every day to be committed to building a community, especially for first-generation hikers, backpackers, and campers navigating the outdoors. My overall goal is to help women feel empowered, included, and prepared in the outdoors.
Along the way, I’ve had heavy conversations with people who feared taking their adventures to the next level. Part of persuading others to take the leap of faith was sharing personal experiences and family history.
This is what I had told several women relating to being Latino, and this may inspire first-gen hikers to take their adventure to the next level:
“Somehow, the outdoors became intimidating, fearful, and scary. Is it a surprise based on our history and current events? Recreating outside isn’t an option for everyone; for some, those words don’t exist side by side. We are neglecting laborers. How do you want to hike, backpack, or camp when you are on your feet all day?
We need to understand that perspective compassionately and learn how to inspire each other (first-generation hikers) who are curious about hiking, camping, and backpacking.”
Those heavy conversations led to many women showing up, facing their fear, and ready to take their adventures to the next level.
That’s another reason I am a hopeful first-gen hiker, backpacker, and camper who believes in building a community, especially for those new to it.
I was a newbie too.
I didn’t get into hiking until I moved to California, when someone asked me, “do you want to go for a hike?” and showed me the ins and outs with compassion. That gesture made one of the most significant impacts on my life. If I can combine that gesture while making people feel at home (mas cultura afuera por favor!), it brings me all the hope in the world to make the outdoors a more inclusive and empowering space.
Heather Diaz is a first-generation hiker from the suburbs of Houston who now lives in Morgan Hill. She has hiked over 2500 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, and is now hiking the Ridge Trail for the Ridge Trail Challenge. Her goal is to help women feel included, prepared, and empowered in the outdoors by hosting group hikes and camping trips. Learn more at LetsGoOutsideYall.com and also follow Heather on Instagram. “Hope to see you on the trail!” – Heather