By Je’Don Holloway Talley
Shannon Moore admits to not being social, and she didn’t expect that to change when she joined the Ladies Who Hike fitness group last summer. She even took her journal during her first hike at Ruffner Mountain, in Birmingham, Ala., to serve as a conversation buffer.
“I was really quiet on the first hike,” she said. “When I first joined the group, … I was very closed in and not very open to talking to people. I actually took my journal with me because I thought it would be the perfect time for me to journal, and I would not have to necessarily talk to people if I was journaling.”
That changed once she joined because “the first experience kind of forced me to open myself up and just to communicate with people,” she said.
“When we get to the top of the mountain, we always stop to have lunch. When we have lunch, we always introduce ourselves and say a little something about ourselves,” Moore said. “One thing I also love about this group of women is that throughout the trail whoever you are beside … will talk to you and engage you in some type of conversation about anything and everything.”
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.
From the first hike, Moore, 31, who has battled depression, knew she would meet women with positive energy.
“I’ve evolved in the sense of being social with other women and other people,” she said. “I’m less closed in. I’m more open to greeting people, talking with them, and engaging in conversations. It has helped me battle the isolation I was going through with my depression.”
The Aliceville, Ala., resident and elementary school teacher joined the group in June 2018, and said it was “projected into my future.”
“I had actually put it on my 2018 vision board, [a tool used to help people clarify, concentrate on, and maintain focus about a specific life goal],” Moore said. “Then I saw the event and the Facebook group page and signed up to go on that first hike with them,” Moore said. “I was seeing my therapist, and she suggested that I start doing things I love. I love nature and the outdoors.”
Moore was drawn to the group because it appeared to be geared toward black women and, she said, “I like high-intensity workouts [and] … love going to the park. I thought, ‘Well, hiking is not only [a trip to] the park but it’s also kind of like a high-intensity level climb,’ so I thought I’d give it a try.
“When I first came across the event, I noticed that it was designed for a group of women. … [Also, it felt] specifically designed for black women, … and I thought it would be a great way to get out and meet some like-minded black women.”
In addition, convening with God in the outdoors has taught Moore how to achieve mental clarity.
“To go and be out in nature, … to take in the flow of the water from the falls, to listen [to nature], to see the beauty of the rocks and the beauty of the boulders, it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re amazing!’ It also helped me think about the life transitions I’m making and see that, even though things are hard, they can be just like nature: beautiful, wonderful, and amazing.”
Hiking provides life lessons, too, Moore said: “Our goal is to get to the bridge and cross it. So, I thought, ‘That’s real life.’ The goal is to get to the next level of my life. Even though the valley may be low, and the mountains may be high and steep, … it’s still possible to get there.”
For more information on Ladies Who Hike, check them out on Instagram @ladies_who_hike.
This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.