“When you see a black girl out walking, don’t just assume it’s our first time there!”
– Rhiane Fatinikun, Black Girls Hike CEO (U.K.)
Get in, Queen! We’re going hiking! When you think of hiking, what comes to mind? Bugs, trees, hills, and neverending long walks? Not as glamorous as it reads, but hiking groups like Black Girls Hike and The Hike Crew have elevated hiking and it’s taking on a new meaning for Black women.
“ The social unrest happening in our country in addition to the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of BIPOC. We utilize this hike to talk about our shared experiences and how we collectively can heal.”– The Hike Crew
Last year, the entire world was asked to quarantine, and we transferred our usual activity remotely. Unfortunately, most people’s physical and mental health deteriorated as a result of this mandated order. The more time we spent at home, the more we wanted to go OUTSIDE and get active. However, gyms, dance studios, or anything that promoted group activity was closing by the minute. Black millennials and Gen Zers alike were forced to get creative. Less popular activities that welcomed socialization made a well-timed comeback. Suddenly, hiking wasn’t just an activity associated with bougie suburbanites. It became a vessel for Black women’s well-being. Hiking ushered in the breath of fresh air we all clearly needed.
As a part of Nike’s Play New campaign, I was excited to discover this new wave of hiking for someone who sucks at walking. There’s something about nature that can be healing to the soul, and as I’ve discovered, hiking is not just walking. It’s about strategically going down the right pathway while trusting your instincts to keep walking to the finish line.
MEF is excited to highlight Black women who are elevating the sport of hiking. Grab your activewear, fave Nike boots, water bottle, and some friends because “a breath of fresh air” has taken on a whole new meaning.
Black Girls DO Hike
Seeing the beauty of nature is like seeing yourself for the first time. Just ask Rhiane Fatinikun, the founder of Black Girls Hike, who found confidence in hiking. It quickly became a gateway for improving her physical and mental health. In March 2019, Fatinikun hosted her very first hike in Manchester (U.K.) along with a friend and 12 strangers, including a journalist. From this spontaneous experience, she quickly realized that this new hobby was so much bigger than her. It was a movement! Fantinikun founded Black Girls Hike to diversify outdoor culture for Black women, all while embracing nature. The group has now hiked in several places across the UK. According to Mountains for the Mind, hiking reduces stress, anxiety levels, and the risk of depression by 30 percent. Moreover, Black women who hike with BGH have established great friendships and professional relationships.
HIKING WITH THE CREW
To get the scoop on the latest hiking trails and groups, MEF chatted with The Hike Crew about finding a new passion, mental health, and the challenges they’ve overcome as a group. The emerging new hiking group, based in the Washington metropolitan area (DMV), has a fun approach to hiking. Founders Kendyll Myles, Travisa, and Angelica are three young Black women who share their love of hiking with other black and brown sisters. As a Black social hiking group for beginners, The Hike Crew promotes fitness and safety tips. Take a look at our inside scoop with the hiking queens.
MEF: We were happy to discover The Hike Crew and commend you all for creating this wonderful journey. Can you tell us how The Hike Crew was established?
The Hike Crew: The Hike Crew was established by Travisa Skinner, Angelica Ellis, and Kendyll Myles to uplift the African American community through outdoor activities, social events, and community service projects. We curate hiking experiences to expose our community to new fitness activities. The summer of 2020 found us in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic! With normal social activities non-existent, we turned to the outdoors to clear our minds, get exercise, and take a break from being at home. As a result, we fell in love with hiking! We played music during our hiking adventure and took pictures while we hike, which generated a lot of buzz on social media. We went to dinner, came up with the name, The Hike Crew, and started our hiking experience journey by hosting our first hike MLK Weekend 2021.
What is the best thing you enjoy about hiking?
The Hike Crew: The best thing about hiking is that it can be a low-impact non-traditional workout. It can be accompanied by music and fun that creates memorable experiences every time. We have enjoyed meeting new people along the way while challenging ourselves to explore beyond typical workouts. Hiking is also inclusive for all body types and fitness journeys.
What were some challenges you all faced at the beginning of your hiking journey?
The Hike Crew: One of our biggest challenges has been due to the routes closing unexpectedly. This has encouraged us to learn how to navigate efficiently. It has significantly increased our knowledge of hiking and alternative trials. We have committed to not only learning for ourselves but also utilizing our social media pages to educate other beginner hikers.
What have you found out about yourself due to hiking? What are some things you reflect upon during your hike?
The Hike Crew: We have found that we love sharing our “hiking for fun” experiences with others and have slowly built a tribe of beginner hikers. It’s times where we are talking amongst ourselves, and we just smile because of the success of The Hike Crew. We didn’t know what to expect. However, we are overall proud of how we have grown over the past 4 months. We will continue to grow as a social group for African Americans. The hiking experience can also be a cathartic one. The social unrest happening in our country, in addition to the pandemic, has taken a toll on the mental health of BIPOC. We utilize this hike to talk about our shared experiences and how we collectively can heal and move forward more resiliently.
Can you tell us why Black women should hike?
The Hike Crew: Black women should Hike because there are so many health benefits correlated to the health disparities that affect Black women.
Hiking can help with improving heart health and balance. It can help build muscle and increase bone density while losing weight. Lastly, being one with nature and the outdoors can have considerable benefits to our mental health.
What’s the best advice you can give someone interested in hiking? Any tips?
The Hike Crew: Best advice we can give is don’t wait another day to get started. As Nike so famously states, Just Do it! Some other advice we can give is to try to scope out trails in advance to determine where you will take your first hike! Consider purchasing hiking boots and socks as well as clothing.
So What If I Suck at…Walking?
There have been many misconceptions about hiking. Some may ask, “Are trails safe?” or “What should I bring with me?”. Most people think that hiking can be challenging because of the “nature’s unknown.” We get it. Trying a new hobby can be intimidating! Always remember, you got this, and the time is now to start!
To find out more ways to Play New, check out our Twitter thread to view Nike’s official video and click here to view other cool ways to try something new.