Latinxhikers’ Luz and Adriana Grow Inclusive Outdoor Community Across Southeast
Photos Courtesy of LatinxHikers
Sometimes friendships just click — as Luz Lituma and Adriana Garcia realized after meeting through Luz’s brother. They weren’t alone in their love of the outdoors. A year after meeting, they moved in together after Luz posted on Facebook looking for a roommate, but for a time, it didn’t quite work out.
“We were both in very different times in our lives, with one of us being in a serious relationship and the other one working from home while single. Our year lease was up and we parted ways without speaking to each other for a while,” they shared about the experience.
But their love of the outdoors brought them back together after Adriana became single. Both women grew up in strict mixed households and saw hiking and spending time in nature as their safe space to, in a way, be free — so they started going on camping trips together.
That’s how outdoors community LatinXHikers got started, from the need for a safe space to have ongoing conversations about race, diversity, identity and their childhoods.
“We knew it was something we felt passionate about. Months down the line on a trip to Havasupai in Arizona, it all clicked. We saw so many people who looked like us out here and we were like ‘We out here.’ We need to be represented more,” they shared.
“It wasn’t until a couple of days later at Zion National Park that we decided to start an Instagram account and call it LatinXHikers. It all happened so fast and so passionately that we felt ecstatic. We had no idea it would turn into what it is today. We just knew it was something we were passionate about and something we felt was needed,” says Adriana of that day in August 2017.
The community is dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in outdoor recreation through digital storytelling and community outreach. “Essentially, we use our social media platform to get more POC and marginalized communities outside,” they share.
The pair uses their Instagram account, now boasting more than 6,000 followers, to get POC and marginalized communities outside through beginner hikes, campfire socials and fun pop up hikes.
In the next few weeks, they’re partnering up with Wild Heaven Brewery and Atlanta chef Maricela Vega from ChicomecoATL fame to provide snacks around a bonfire following a quick under 3 miles hike at Arabia Mountain. They also have a new year’s hike in the works for January at Amicalola Falls in North Georgia.
“After a couple of months of having our online platform, we began to realize that not only was it helpful to provide inspiration for others wanting to get outside but it’d also make sense to actually get people to go on hikes with us,” they explained of the transition to bigger groups.
“We partnered with REI and started to have hiking and social events in the southeast and midwest regions.” Earlier this summer, they did hikes in both Chicago and North Carolina to tap into their diverse communities, some with up to 100 attendees.
Most hiking events are meant to be introductory and help expose people, mostly women and POC, to the outdoors. “There are a lot of ways to enjoy the outdoors. It doesn’t always have to be what others label as outdoor recreational activities,” says Luz. “I feel like in our culture we tend to be very inviting so our events are no different. A lot of hikers show up alone and end up enjoying themselves and making new buddies.”
In the end, Adriana and Luz want to use the reach they have through their outdoor community to “amplify others voices that may be more marginalized than ourselves.”
“I also think that by us conducting these hiking and social events, we are educating and empowering POCs and underrepresented people so that they can feel confident participating in outdoor recreation by themselves,” they said.
And while they’ve seen a rise in outdoor brands reaching out to them and other minority-focused groups to add more diversity to their campaigns, as business owners, they warn against underselling your product.
“We’ve learned from others in the community that the work we are doing should not be done for free. We should be compensated for our emotional labor, time, resources, and knowledge we are sharing with those around us and our followers.”
Up next, they hope to hold more community events across Atlanta and the Southeast and working with more local vendors and organizations to amplify all voices and help their businesses’ thrive as well.
“We have been holding hiking and social events, but also reaching out to other Latinx communities around us and working with them. Word of mouth has been a big reason why our hikes have been so successful and full of cool people.”
“We have to have each other's backs to be able to thrive.”