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Meet Tiffany Tharpe of Black Girls Trekkin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany Tharpe.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I got started with Black Girls Trekkin after hiking for a few years and noticing that, the further I got away from diverse cities like Los Angeles, the less people of color I saw out on the trail. When I visited Yosemite National Park for the first time with my friends a few years back, I saw no other black women other than my friend and I. I met and talked with Shelton Johnson, a park ranger in Yosemite, and he talked about his mission to help diversify the national parks. It made me want to try and help promote diversity and inspire other black women that the outdoors were open and accessible to all, so I started the BGT Instagram. It started out with me posting pictures of myself, but then I started using a hashtag (originally it was #blackgirlswhohike, but as the Instagram grew and our named changed, it became #blackgirlstrekkin) and people were using the hashtag and DMing me to share their pictures! Eventually, people started asking if I had a group that went out on hikes. I was scared at first, but once a good friend of mine came back into my life and I asked her if she wanted to help me turn BGT into something bigger, she agreed and we started taking black women and children, along will allies who support our mission, on the trails! We now focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces, but also about conservation and education about these natural spaces.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think the biggest obstacle personally has been myself. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I strive to make sure everything is A-okay. Whenever there is an issue, say one of the days we have increment weather and have to decide on whether or not we will reschedule the hike, depending on the decision we make I wonder if it was the best decision or not for the group and sometimes second guess myself. I strive to be the best leader I can be but there are days where I feel I could be better or I’m not as organized as I think I am. There’s also the issue of the fact that, because I am this way, it sometimes feels like this is a full-time job that, while I do enjoy doing it, it’s not something I can fully commit to until I am financially stable.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Black Girls Trekkin – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Black Girls Trekkin is a hiking group full of amazing leaders and women whose primary goal is to promote diversity and inclusion in the outdoors. We specialize in taking women of color and our allies on hiking adventures in a safe space and encourage camaraderie. We also educate our members, many of them new hikers, about wildlife we find on the trail and the places we visit, so they know that these spaces are precious and deserve to be conserved and protected. We are proud that we made it as far as we have and we continue to grow and inspire others to get outside and join us! It personally makes me happy when I meet new people coming to our hikes and that we have our “regulars” that continue to come on our hikes because they enjoy the atmosphere we create. I think one of the things that set us apart is our focus on conservation, which we think is important especially in today’s society and the damage that has already been done to the Earth.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love that there are so many hikes within an hour or two from Los Angeles. You can drive to many different ecosystems. From deserts to mountains, to forests, to beaches, there’s just so much to see and explore not too far from the city! Even if we look into our own backyards and parks closer to home, Los Angeles has a lot of nature to see and enjoy. What I don’t love, which I think is true of most people who live in Los Angeles, is the traffic!

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