Expanding Outdoors: Interview with Latinxhikers Co-Founder Luz Lituma
Latinxhikers is an organization devoted to diversity and inclusion in the outdoors. We sat down with Co-Founder Luz Lituma (the other Co-Founder is Adriana Garcia) after a recent hike and talked about the organization, what they do, and why they love Arabia Mountain.
Arabia Alliance: Tell us a little bit about Latinxhikers. What do you all do, and how did you get your start as an organization?
Luz Lituma: Latinxhikers started off as an Instagram account where Adriana and I would tell our stories as Latinas in the outdoors. We give our perspective on the outdoor world and what it’s like to roam these spaces as a woman of color in the South.
After a couple of posts, a lot of people resonated with what we had to say and our following started growing rapidly. We’d get messages from our followers thanking us for creating a space like this online. So we decided to move this to the real world. We started hosting hikes in the metro-Atlanta area with the occasional out of state hike.
AA: What is your favorite part of hiking Arabia Mountain?
LL: Part of the reason why we like hosting hikes at Arabia Mountain is because of the close proximity it has to the city. It’s very important for us to host in spaces that are accessible to others. Time is a big factor as to why some people don’t go out and hike. Not everyone can afford (time & money-wise) to drive over an hour to be able to hike. Arabia Mountain just being 20 min away from the city makes it easier for people to get in touch with nature without it interfering with their lives too much. It’s also an absolutely breathtaking place. FALL is my favorite time of the year and when we were up there this past hike in November you could see the leaves changing colors and the sun shining on us. The sun above us provided the perfect amount of heat to keep us warm enough.
AA: What do diversity and inclusion mean to you? How would you like to see those ideas manifest in the outdoors?
LL: Diversity isn’t just about race; it’s about body types, socioeconomic status, accessibility for people who are differently-abled. There’s a lot we can all learn from one another. I know personally, these past two years have been very eye-opening and full of learning experiences. I am forever thankful for that.
I think one of the big things the outdoor world is lacking is opportunities for people who use a wheelchair to recreate outdoors. I met an amazing couple, Kevin and Haley, at one of our meet-ups. Kevin has been super supportive of us and come out to almost every hike we’ve hosted. I can easily say he’s become a close friend. Unfortunately, Haley has not been able to join most of our hikes because she uses a wheelchair. The hikes we host don’t have paved trails and lacked accessibility for her. In the future, I’m hoping to find more spots where we can ALL hike.
Something I’d like to address as well is how people view the whole being “outdoorsy” term. There are so many ways you can be ‘outdoorsy” – it’s not just about hiking or rock climbing. Being outdoorsy can mean anything from liking to bbq at your local park, going to your yard and tending your new garden to climbing a whole mountain.
AA: What is one highlight of your time coordinating Latinxhikers?
LL: Every single time someone tells me this is a group they didn’t know they needed. I’ve heard it several times and every time it’s motivating to keep providing more of these opportunities and events. Also, when I’m able to lend out my boots or my tent to someone who is going on their first hiking/camping trip. I feel like I’m making it just a little easier for them by not having to spend all the money on gear.
AA: How have you seen the organization grow and change, and what are your plans for the future?
LL: 2020 is halfway planned on my end. I’m hoping to keep hosting hikes but most importantly now teaming up with organizations like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has brought up more stewardship opportunities. We’ll definitely be hosting our new tradition of Latinx Appalachian Trail Crew to kick off Latino Conservation week again in 2020! We’re hoping to make this a yearly thing and in the future have trail days all up the Appalachian Trail! So help spread the word because it’s an awesome experience and something beautiful to be a part of. Apart from that, we’ll be hosting many more events and partnering up with other cools orgs as well! It’s going to be an exciting year.
To learn more about Latinxhikers, be sure to check out their website: https://www.latinxhikers.com/.