Balanced Rock Foundation’s Annual Women of Color Backpack Trip


Contributed by Outdoor Afro Chelsea Griffie:

Here is the follow-up from Balanced Rock Foundation’s  Women of Color Backpacking Trip we wrote about last summer – check out all the fun they had!

The 2011 Women of Color Backpacking Trip participants knocked my socks off, and they went straight into the washing machine!  We had a professional videographer and photographer who is also the mother of the two cutest twins I know; an esteemed aerialist; a nearly 50-year-old “Bike Diva” takin’ some just-shipped-her-daughter-off-to-college time; and a smart and practical sister who has become a mother by taking charge of her two young nephews. Plus, there were two instructors with enigmatic pasts…

The  trip for 2011 was incredibly fun and engaging.  The conversations were often so compelling that I had to remind myself that we were on a backpacking trip.  We often discussed how things run back in the default world, and offered reinterpretations of how things could be.  I felt honored to be among these women of color in nature.


As usual, we all worked together to prepare the meals and perform other camp duties.  What was funny was that three of the participants were mothers, and the fourth was self-described as having OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).  So things got done! We joked that Balanced Rock should start a screening process, so that future trips would run as smoothly!

Our destination was Ostrander Lake in Yosemite National Park.  We spent one night in the Bridalveil Creek campground, which is near our trailhead.  It was a surprise that there was a lightning-started fire nearby, which was controlled, but allowed to burn.  That’s how they do things these days in Yosemite, after years of snuffing out all fires.  It was smoky on the road, and we constantly debated the wisdom of sticking to our itinerary in the days leading up to the trip.  We stuck to it, and it turned out alright.  We did end up wearing bandannas like rogue desperados, but that was just for one day.

We took two days to get to Ostrander Lake, and found a deluxe campsite along the way to set up shop for the night.  There was a lot of laughter and camaraderie along the way, and we found a fine balance between getting to our destination and enjoying the journey.

Once we got to the lake, it was refreshing to dip in, as well as a plentiful source of water to sustain us.  There is a busy campground at the lake, but we opted for a more primitive spot where we could be more secluded.  We were lucky enough to encounter the Ostrander Ski Hut occupied by NPS rangers on a break.  We introduced ourselves and got a tour of the facility.  It is such a great place to ski to during the winter months.


There was an optional day hike to Horseman’s Ridge, overlooking Hart Lakes.   On the hike, half of us took in incredible views, and figured our way off trail. We climbed in a giant crack in a huge boulder and saw a small frog, about one inch in diameter.  A hummingbird flitted by Emily, who took it as an auspicious sign from a guardian friend.There were so many shining moments.  Two of my personal additions to the equipment list are something frivolous, but lightweight, and something meaningful that also weighs almost nothing.  My frivolous object was biodegradable glitter, which we wore almost every day.  Let me tell you, it takes a very secure woman to sport that kind of bling!Everyone had a knack for supporting each other, and for taking personal chances.  In short, it was another typical Women of Color trip. Did I mention that I’m still honored and excited to lead these trips?  –this was my sixth year!  Balanced Rock needs your support to make this trip accessible to as many women of color as possible!  We are still a minority in the outdoor world, and it doesn’t help that many need to start from scratch in terms of buying the necessary personal equipment – so I hope you will consider supporting this important pathway to the outdoors!


2 Thoughts on “Balanced Rock Foundation’s Annual Women of Color Backpack Trip”

  • It’s nice to know and see that there are African Americans who are passionate about the outdoors. It’s even better o see African American women in the outdoors. Many of us have tried to distance ourselves from nature, thinking that “that’s not what we do”. I hear the same thing in my ongoing effort to build a network of black hunters and promote the sport of hunting and the outdoors to theAfrican American community. Keep up the good work and keep enjoying the outdoors!

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