Brittany: How would you describe your experience with the outdoors?
Mother Fierce: I fell in love with nature over ten years ago. It was a way for me to disconnect from the physical world that we live in; to get away from the noise and expectations of society. When I am outside, I feel so connected to the air, water, the earth, and that feeling of connectedness gives me a sense of peace and calm. I feel like I can take on whatever the world throws at me when I am out there.
Brittany: What was it like hiking as a Black female ten years ago?
Mother Fierce: Ten years ago, it was difficult to find other women of color who liked to hike as much as I did. I would put together monthly day hikes and invite others to join me, but after about 2-3 hikes people lost interest. I tried to get my wife to come with me, but she wasn't interested in nature or its bugs, so I eventually gave up asking. I'd heard about hiking meetups, but at the time, I was anxious about hiking with people I didn't know. Sadly, with no one to hike with, I stopped hiking.
Brittany: How has your relationship with nature changed over the years?
Mother Fierce: My relationship with nature changed drastically after my son was born. When he was born, I went through a period where I did not feel like myself at all. I stopped being interested in things I used to love and I stopped going outside. This went on for quite some time and I would find myself wondering, when will I start feeling like myself again? Who am I? I couldn’t even identify the things that I liked pre-him. It was weird, and I did not understand what was happening to me. Other women would tell me, "Just give it some time! You’ll start to feel like yourself again". I gave it time. I tended to my healing. And when I started to gather myself again, I returned to nature. I started hiking again.
Brittany: So, what was it like getting back into hiking after taking a step back after the birth of your son?
Mother Fierce: Well, I must give credit to my wife who really stepped it up. I asked her if she would do the 52 Hike Challenge with me, and initially she was like “umm that's a lot of hiking." She said she wanted to support me but suggested maybe we could hike once a month or every other month. I was like, ok I will take what I can get! I wanted my son to be introduced early to the outdoors. I wanted to share a place with him that he could be free and wild. I wanted him to take up space, and lots of it, and to know that he belongs here just as much as anyone else. He was 2 years old when we took him on his first hike.
Brittany: How has being in nature impacted your relationship with your wife?
Mother Fierce: As a couple we have gotten stronger together through hiking and we have gotten closer as well. When we first went out on the trails, she was taking her cell phone out constantly. Then, the more we were out there, she would slowly put her phone away. And now, it’s just us together. She even agreed to do the 52 Hike Challenge. We spend the time talking about things we do not normally talk about. It helps us break way from our normal routine. We spend time in silence and we encourage each other in new ways. We focus on how we can physically, emotionally, and mentally support each other to get over a hump and get up a hill. We also use our hikes to talk about parenting. Our nature hikes have become a classroom for us and for our son.
Brittany: Did you experience any adversity on the trail?
Mother Fierce: We have run into issues where we are the only people who look like us on the trail. There are moments when it feels as if some people don't like that we're taking up space, like we're not supposed to be there, and they don't want to make room for us. We ran into a group hiking once that refused to make room on the trail or to let us pass by. In those moments, we choose to use our voice and to model for our son a sense of belonging and pride. Others belong on the trail, but so do we.
Brittany: I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Let’s take things to a higher note. Where are some of your favorite places to hike?
Mother Fierce: There's so many! We are on our second 52 Hike Challenge and have hiked in Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Washington, DC, and several other places. Some of our favorite hikes in Georgia have been:
- Yonah Mountain
- Preacher's Rock
- Amicalola Falls
- Lulu Lake Preserve
- Indian Seats
- East and West Palisades
- Tallulah Gorge
- Providence Canyon and Cloudland Canyon
Brittany: Whoa that’s a lot! And what about your favorite season?
Mother Fierce: I LOVE hiking in the fall and winter. This is coming from someone who could not stand to be outside at all in the cold. But it feels so nice; I enjoy the coolness of the weather. I don't have to worry about humidity or sweating. The scenery is beautiful and there are fewer people on the trails, which makes it even nicer. And guess what? Not as many bugs!
Brittany: Thank you so much for sharing your story and all these great destinations. I know our readers will truly appreciate your candor and valuable insights.