Who Said Black Women Don't Camp or Hike - Part 1

Who said Black Women don’t camp or hike? By themselves? In a tent? In Northern Ontario or the Rockies? Okay this sounds like a bad Criminal Minds episode, but it’s not. Last year I did just that. I needed to take an unexpected sabbatical from blackprint and my 9-5 to deal with multiple losses and essentially my mental health. I travelled alone to Northern Ontario for some deep, long ugly crying, soul searching, talking to the trees, speaking to the spirits of my loved ones, and pitching up a tent and hiking mountains. It was my first solo trip, and it was extremely healing. It was also the first time I sought out therapy that actually stuck, and was helpful, but this is NOT that story. That story is in another video on YouTube. This wonderful read is all about my last two days of my trip, when EVERYTHING went wrong!! 

"Camping by myself was terrifying, it was a week of sleeping in a tent with my knife, my car keys, and my phone under my pillow!"

I wasn’t exactly ready to fight bears, or defend myself from them. At all the campsites I stayed at, everyone seemed to have a trailer as opposed to a tent. Did I miss the memo? Was I the only person transported back to the early 90’s when tents were a thing you used while camping? It was truly a sesame street “one of these things doesn't belong” moments. A Black Woman all alone in a tent, on the ground vs regular campers and their families in their $70K camping trailers with internet, heat, and lights, not flash lights. I don’t think this was happening in the 90’s. But, who said Black Women don't camp or hike?

Black Woman Hiking

After days of hiking and pitching a tent, my itinerary had me renting an AirBNB in a shared house with multiple tenants, before my grand 22 KM hike. My unit was fully functional and contained all my necessities, so there was no need to share any facilities. It was a perfect break from the hard, cold ground. I’d managed to cross Eagle Canyon, CANADA'S LONGEST foot suspension bridge, which extends 600 feet across the canyon and hangs at a height of 152 feet above the canyon floor. Surprisingly it was not scary in the slightest, and being in the middle of the bridge was LIBERATING! 

The view was breath-taking, and at that proud moment, I felt I could do absolutely anything and everything. Little did I know the longest bridge was child’s play compared to the Sleeping Giant awaiting me the very next day.

The local Ojibway legend has it, the large formation of volcanic rock mesas called Sleeping Giant, or "Nanajibou," which translates to "The Spirit of Deep Sea Water" — was turned to stone when the location of a silver mine nearby was revealed. Destination Ontario Jan 26, 2022

My hiking app estimated the hike to be 8 hours, so I figured I’d probably take about 10-12 hours. I packed my ridiculously heavy hiking bag with tons of water, some snacks, and left behind all the essentials, such as my sleeping bag, tent, and emergency blanket in my car. I had no intention of sleeping on the mountain. THAT WAS NOT ON MY ITINERARY! 

I made it 7 kms in with my soca pumping, and my legs still holding up. That was literally record breaking for me, and I wasn’t in pain but my music was looping so I wasn’t as hype every time the next song played. Everyone on the trail was extremely nice, many rode bikes, and they all seemed to be coming back from the mountain, with very few heading in the same direction as me. Few inquired if I was heading to the top to camp at one of the various campsites. I’d respond, I plan on going up and coming back down that same day, and they seemed to chuckle and tell me good luck and I better pick up the pace because it was getting late. I met a young couple at the beginning of the hike, and on a few occasions we seemed to pass each other, I learned they kept stopping to check out the break out views and spend time by the lake. I was determined to keep moving to get to the top.

"I figured if I had walked this far knocking the toe of my brand name hiking boots on the thousand year old roots, and barely feeling pain in my toes, I could easily make it off the mountain in no time."

Because, Who Said Black Women Don't Camp or Hike?

I finally arrived at an opening where there was a bike rack, and many bikes still locked up, as a group of riders seemed to be chatting and resting. They were getting ready to leave the way I just came in, and the couple I mentioned earlier had caught up to me. The three of us stood there perplexed looking at the map, thinking it doesn’t seem to be that far from the top. We were the only ones embarking on the steep incline to the top, so our journey started. 

Literally boulder after boulder, I struggled. A formation of stairs built on stones. Steep ladders that barely had room for my size nine hiking boots. I was flabbergasted!! Sweating and panting, and at some point, the woman from the couple offered to carry my hefty hiking bag. I think it easily weighed 30 lbs empty, but felt like it weighed 50 lbs with the many bottles of water and gatorade I packed in the bag. I was grateful but didn’t know how she could manage as she seemed more than half my size, and she wasn’t wearing hiking boots, but shoes that resembled keds. I wondered if she thought her and her boyfriend were taking a leisurely stroll in the park.

The guy already had a bag on his back, and I think they felt sorry for me after hearing my determined heavy breaths, gasping for dear life, but slowly continuing up the sleeping giant. I’m sure even the sleeping giant was hearing my pants in his dreams.

To find out what what happens next, check out "Who Said Black Women Don't Camp or Hike" PART 2

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