This article is part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Trail Moments initiative—to elevate new and tried-and-true trail voices around the country, and how trails impact the lives of Americans. Learn more at trailmoments.org and #TrailMoments on social media. Share your story, or view a collection of trail moments stories.
We love learning about individuals who inspire people to get outdoors, which is why our team was excited to meet with Adriana Garcia, the co-founder of Latinx Hikers.
Through this grassroots initiative, Adriana and her fellow co-founder are working to break down barriers in the outdoors by creating access, providing representation and empowering their community to establish connections with nature. Latinx Hikers brings people together through in-person events, such as campouts and hikes, and provides a virtual space for people to connect and share their stories, messages and experiences.
We wanted to know more about how Adriana got started and what inspired her to do what she does, so we asked her to share own story—her #TrailMoments—with us.
We hope you enjoy reading her reflection and that you follow her future endeavors!
“There is something about seeing someone out on the trails or at the campsite with that sparkly look in their eye from trying something new that just keeps me going."
When I was growing up, our family would go on vacation to Tennessee’s Fall Creek Falls State Park every year for two weeks. It was something I looked forward to because it was a way for me to escape. I didn’t have to worry about friends or soccer or school or responsibilities. I just got to wander and be curious without any pressure. I can honestly say that I’ve had some of my most memorable experiences at that campground, and that’s probably why I always come back to these stories.
As soon as we unpacked and set up camp, I would start creating my schedule for the week. Wildlife 101 at 9 a.m., arts and crafts at 11 a.m., then swimming at the Cascades where my brother and I would swim and dip under the waterfalls until it was time to head back for dinner. Simple things like haystacks, spaghetti and hamburgers were usually on the menu. My favorite was the beef stew that my mom made. It was hearty with beef, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and garlic that filled us up after moving our bodies all day. After food, we’d meet at the softball field for some nighttime ballgames with the adults.
Most of the time it was just me and my brother riding our bikes to and from our destinations, but sometimes I got to venture off alone. That’s when I learned the most about myself: that I was independent, I liked being around people but also liked having my space, I loved being in water, working with my hands, and I loved wandering the trails and being alone with my thoughts and dreams. There was also a level of healing that took place while I was there that I wasn’t aware of until I grew up. Being out in nature helped heal me from all of the things I had to deal with when I was back at home…the arguing, the negativity, the anxieties.
I am who I am now because of these experiences. I’m now creating outdoor events and spaces so folks like myself can feel the same way I did when I was a little girl: curious, excited, wondrous, surprised and inspired. There is something about seeing someone out on the trails or at the campsite with that sparkly look in their eye from trying something new that just keeps me going.
Have you recently discovered trails, or are you a long-time trail enthusiast? Either way, we hope you’ll share your “Trail Moments”—and the stories of how trails have impacted your life during COVID-19. Take the survey below, or share using #TrailMoments on social media.