Went on a hike with some other women of color friends yesterday--an infrequent get-together that I pull together so I can spend some time with some fabulous women of color, and get fresh air, sunshine and exercise at the same time. We went to Briones Regional Park out near Orinda, a great place with lots of long, rolling trails and just enough people to make you feel un-alone, but not so many that you feel that you're still in the city. And it's just twenty minutes away from Central Oakland, but it feels like a world away.
I wish i'd brought my camera to take some pictures--there are some great views up there, and we saw at least a dozen hawks soaring and dipping on the hot air currents. On the not-so-great side, it was nearly 90 degrees out there, and we had little shade on the trail. We hiked for about 2 hours (a little less than half of that uphill), and T.'s dog nearly passed out from heatstroke a couple times, but thanks to full water bottles and some welcome breezes--and a well-timed stop at the top of a hill in the shade--we made it back without any real problems.
I threw out an idea that I recently thought up to my hiking compañeras--what about pulling together a people of color hiking crew? (You gotta call it a 'crew' and not a 'club', right?). They were all into the idea, and said they would sign up. After looking at some web sites of hiking groups in the Bay Area--all of which were disproportionately white--I realized that I might need to start my own thing in order to hike in nature with other people that I could relate to, and who may not be the hardcore outdoorsy types that I have a feeling populate many of the existing hiking groups (9 mile hikes? are you kidding me? maybe in a year or so, but not right now).
I also feel that people of color in urban areas often have an aversion to rural areas because of fears based on sheer inexperience, or that they think only white people go out there, or that they'll be treated badly (all fears I've shared myself). I find it rather sad that many urban folks of color are so out of touch with the nature that's in their own backyards, and that these beautiful outdoor, open spaces become simply playgrounds for wealthier white folks (the ones who can afford to live out there, etc.) instead of common spaces for everyone.
So keep an eye out for an email if you're in my POC network--and bust out those hiking shoes!