By Je’Don Holloway Talley
Asked how the members of Ladies Who Hike combat the stigmas involving black women and the outdoors—heat, insects, sweating out hairstyles—group founder Brittney Davis said it doesn’t faze them.
“It’s not a problem to the people that come because they already know what to expect,” she said. “We’re going to be outside on a mountain. … We know it may rain or be extremely hot during the hike. We know what we’re getting into going in, so it’s not a problem.”
They’re not worried about the “small stuff,” she said.
“We’re just being free to be outside, bugs and all,” Davis said. “It’s not a beauty pageant. We’re outside to enjoy nature, so we can be free and unconcerned about those things.”
Make no mistake, though, you can hike and be a “prissy girl,” too, Davis said: “Now, I do have on a full face of makeup during every hike because I like to take a lot of pictures. It’s up to you. If you are a girly girl, you can come dolled-up and cute, or you can come as bare as you want. You have that freedom.”
Ladies Who Hike is a group that meets monthly to provide an outlet for women of color to enjoy the outdoors, share positive energy, and destress from their hectic lifestyles. The women get out of the city and into the beauty and serenity of nature, finding a different trail to hike for each excursion. They’ve gone to several Alabama locales, including Ruffner Mountain and Red Mountain in Birmingham; Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden; Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover; and Turkey Creek in Pinson; as well as Stone Mountain in Georgia and Ruby Falls in Tennessee. In August, the group will travel to the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
All the challenges don’t involve steep trails and rough terrains, however. Davis, a 31-year-old Mobile, Ala., native, recalls one trip that required patience.
“When we went hiking in Tennessee [in October 2018], our bus caught on fire,” she said. “We rented a party bus with a local company here in town, and the bus caught on fire on our way back to Birmingham. … We were stranded for hours.
“That whole experience taught me patience and how to deal with a tough situation in a calm, professional manner because I had 26 women looking to me, trying to see how we’re going to get home. We all just joined hands and prayed and covered ourselves, asking for a safe arrival home. That was a big learning experience.”
Davis, a realtor with Birmingham-based Keller Williams and Associates and University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) alum, founded Ladies Who Hike in 2017.
“I’m responsible for selecting all the hikes and … I’m the leader, so people look to me for answers: What’s the distance? What’s the intensity? How steep is the climb? How long does it take to reach the point? When are we meeting? [I give them all the details],” she said. “Being the sole founder, I’m responsible for everything related to the group.”
The best part, according to Davis: “When we get to the top and witness all the beauty, it’s amazing. [At the top is] where we eat our lunch. We bring our blankets and pull them out, then we toast with our wine. It feels great.”
For more information on Ladies Who Hike, check them out on Instagram @ladies_who_hike.
This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.