10,000 Steps to Denali, Temescal Hike, and National Outdoors Day!

It’s Alisha, Outdoor Afro Los Angeles Leader. This Saturday June 8th we had a Temescal Canyon Hike planned in the Santa Monica Mountains to support the first African American group to hike Denali. So our hike was in support of the 10,000 steps to Denali trek. Our hike also coincided with National Outdoors Day.
We started our day at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook where there were activities planned for the kids. They had camping gear set up to show how to set up a camp.
Along with camping gear lessons they also allowed children (and big kids like myself) to create buttons and bookmarks to show their support of 10,000 steps to Denali.
From BHSO, we met up with another group of teens from Watts and Compton inner city program who have had little exposure to the outdoors. We were paired with them through the Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory to encourage them to get outdoors more. Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory provided a bus and an amazing guide Anthony to take us on our hike and explore the canyon.
We got to Temescal and had a quick snack on the lawn, took a photo with both groups and paired off into two different groups to meet at the waterfall. There were so many of us we didn’t want to overwhelm the trail.
On our way up we saw caterpillars, lizards, a garden snake and a red-tailed hawk. In true LA fashion we also saw a film crew filming a movie, haha. When we reached the top we sat for a bit and let the kids play around the waterfall which was dry. Anthony explained we’re in a dry season. We had to watch out for poison oak. Quick tip: if its three let it be. If you see leaves in clusters of three leave them alone.
Many thanks to Kleen Kanteen and REI for keeping us hydrated. Thank you REI for keeping me warm and to Keen shoes for making my hike comfy. I also want to acknowledge Clif Bars for snack bars for the kiddos. We had an amazing time. Looking forward to many more collaborations with Santa Monica Conservatory, your rangers are amazing and knowledgeable. Thank you Anthony and Iann the volunteer.
Oh yes on our way down the canyon we came to a beautiful open field and my sister and the kids decided to jump and play.

Full Moon Hike

By Los Angeles Outdoor Afro Leader, Alisha Pye
Watching the full moon rise into the sky is a beautiful sight. Hiking in nature while watching the full moon rise and the sun set is exceptional. It’s Alisha, Outdoor Afro Leader of Los Angeles. I was invited by the Santa Monica Mountains Park Rangers to attend the full moon hike.
We went to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook for a guided Full Moon Hike. We were lucky that the moon rose at 7:43pm and the sun was setting at 7:54pm. So as the sun set we were able to enjoy the full moon at its brightest. We almost didn’t need flashlights it was so bright.
We were able to go into the theater prior to the hike to learn a few facts and about indigenous plants, animals. The guides were very informative even teaching us how to identify animals through their eye shine color. The kids in the group were fascinated.
It did get chilly, so of course layers were necessary. We decided to snuggle to keep warm. We hiked a little over a mile and then decided to take the stairs back up to the top. We had a blast.
We’re going to try to go back every full moon for the summer. Just look at the view from the top, overlooking the city at nightfall. Spectacular views…

Exploring Ruins and Playing in Waterfalls

Outdoor Afros in Los Angeles explored local African American history and nature over the weekend – read on!

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Alisha Pye here, I’m the Outdoor Afro Leader for Los Angeles. This week we decided to celebrate Spring by hiking at Solstice Canyon in Malibu which is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s a beautiful hike with flowers in full bloom, waterfalls to enjoy, valleys and canyons to climb and picnic areas. We started on the stairs and continued on a steady incline until we came to an area of ruins that we felt compelled to explore.
If you look closely between the trees you’ll see the ruins of a burned out house. It’s now a historic park of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area. According to the story this house was built by a renowned African American Architect Paul R.Williams in 1952. The area is susceptible to many fires so Paul designed the home for his clients with a fire protection system that would protect the home against fire damage. The waterfall and pool were designed to pump water in case of fire as a protection to limit damage. Unfortunately after the owners death the pumping system wasn’t maintained and the home was damaged by fire in 1982.
The backyard of the home was a beautiful waterfall that was breathtaking. We decided to stay and climb a little. We ended up staying for 45 minutes exploring, climbing and playing in the waterfall. At the very top was an outdoor fireplace the family used.
The view was so amazing we decided to take our group picture there along the rocks. If you look at the picture you’ll notice we had a very diverse group ranging from an 11 year old to a grandfather with a cane who served as motivation for us to keep climbing.
Getting to the top we were able to see exactly how far we’d come. It was a great sense of accomplishment to get out explore and enjoy the ruins of the Santa Monica National Area. We plan on doing more exploring in the coming months so join us in our adventures.

Outdoor Fun in Barbados: Fun at Sea!

Bathsheba Beachfront

The Barbados Tourism Authority took a group of US Journalists on an Experiential Tour of the beautiful island and we enjoyed the best of Bajan culture and activities, including Outodoor Fun at Sea! Barbados is a small island, 14 miles wide and 21 miles long; however, it has 60 miles of coastline giving you a number and variety of ways to enjoy Barbados’ top attraction – the seaside!

1. Beachside Activities
Beach combing and lounging are always in style. All of the fine white sand beaches are public so you’re sure to mix and mingle with tourists and residents alike. The friendly people are happy to greet you, share a conversation with you or invite you to join them in activity. Vendors are also common. If you are staying at a beachfront hotel, like I did at Hotel Tamarind along the West Coast, outdoor living space is also maximized: sun beds, chaise lounges, beach sofas made for two, and outdoor dining facilties. As lovely as the accommodations were, it was hard to stay inside with lovely views as these.

West Beach at Sunset

2. Water Sports
Sea water is naturally bouyant, so simply splashing and swimming around the roped off sections (for your safety) of the sea are always a hit. However, one must be mindful of the coral along the beach and on the ocean. Unlike the other Caribbean islands, Barbados is a coral island and not a volcanic one. Parts of the sea floor are stone and coral cover which is beautiful, but has been known to cut the skin if one isn’t careful. Included in the cost of rooms at Hotel Tamarind and the other Hotel Elegant properties is pre-paid water sport activities such as windsurfing, sunfish sailing, standup paddle surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. I gave standup paddleboarding a try. It was lots of fun but not as physically rigourous as I thought. The trick is to find your balance and just go with the waves. However, I fell a lot. It wasn’t traumatic at all. The water felt great and after blinking a million times to wash the salt out I was fine. I slid myself back on the paddle surf board (a modified surf board) and gave it a try one more try.

Stand up Paddle surf boarding

Me, giving Stand up Paddle board surfing another try

3. Deep Sea Leisure

Barbados sits in both the Caribbean sea and on the edge of the Atlantic ocean. The East coast is quite choppy each each year, the area known as Bathsheba hosts surfing competitions attracting folks from all over the globe. However, many of these beaches are not for general activity. However, boating and sailing are also popular on the island. Tiami Catamaran Cruises is a commericial tour that takes visitors out to swim with endangered Barbados sea turtles and snorkel over beautiful coral beds along south and western seas. The cruise itself was adventurous and offered spectacular views.

Donning a life jacket and snorkel gear with ME Whitford of the Brandman Agency (our host for the trip) and L Monitz of iExplore.

Barbados was a grand time.

Wet toes on the beach

Have you and your friends and families visited Barbados or the West Indies before? What are your favorite water-side memories from your Outdoor Afro Adventures?

Barbados Bound: An Outdoor Afro Adventure in the Caribbean

(image courtesy of www.visitbarbados.org)

I’m excited about visiting Barbados. I’ve never been before, but I have experienced other Caribbean countries, and  know first hand how amazing the Caribbean is. For the novice outdoor recreationist and the seasoned outdoor lover, the Caribbean is equally compelling. Something about the weather, the scenery, the sounds and people that make me feel at home. The weather is simultaneously hot, sunny, humid, and rainy. The scenery is green, gold, orange,red, violet and blue – encompassing the beauty of the horizon, the water, the trees, the sand, and the sky. The sounds are beyond description: birds chirping, monkeys frolicking, frogs chorusing, wind blowing, waves of water lapping, and your heart beating to the rhythm of the local music. And the people, aaah! Visiting the Caribbean was the first time, I had truly felt completely sucked into a place and was culturally reborn. Finally, with people with ancestors hailing from the Old and New Worlds – it’s an island nation shaped by colonialism, servitude, displacement, and renewal, all at the same time.
Today, I go to Barbados to revel in its re-birth as a vacation destination of lovers and nature lovers.  Among many African-Americans, it is a rather well-known and visited romance destination.  I know several couples who have honeymooned, become engaged, or just enjoyed the private company of one another in this beautiful place.  And beautiful, it is.  For the nature lovers, Barbados offers a host of ways to fall in love:  Amazing sunrises, breath taking sunsets, miles of public beaches, water sports, snorkeling and marine life watching, bird watching, enjoying the fragrances of the wild flowers or falling asleep to the chorus if Whistling Frogs.  You’ll fall in love, no doubt.

Barbados Beach (image courtesty of www.Barbados.org)

And thanks to the The Barbados Tourism Authority for sponsoring an Experiential Group Trip for USA Journalists, so Outdoor Afro can share this experience with you.
Outdoor Afro will be staying the Tamarind Hotel (apart of the Elegante Hotel Group).  It is a newly renovated hotel will amazing beach front views, three swimming pools, and maximum outdoor living space.
The itinerary includes up-close wildlife encounters – swimming with the turtles, a nature photography hike, learning to play dominoes the Bajan way, experiencing a polo exhibition, and plus the best of Barbados hospitality — food and drink.
Oh, yes! Of course, I’ve packed all of the essential gear for outdoor adventure and enjoyment: swim suit, flip flops, sneakers, sun hat, sun block, Polo clothes, shades, light rain jacket, and my camera and computer to share it all with you.
Stay tuned and follow the tweets @OutdoorAfro on Twitter or follow the hashtag #OABarbados.

Show-Me Skiers of St. Louis

By Outdoor Afro Contributor Danielle N. Lee
My first time skiing was an experience. I’m from the south, so frolicking in the cold or snow wasn’t a bog part of my childhood experience.  However, I love the outdoors and I love trying new things, so I joined a group of friends who introduced me to the basics of the slopes.

Preparing for my winter time Outdoor Afro adventure with Show Me Skiiers

It was an adventure!  I was far from great at it.  But I wasn’t deterred. So when I was invited to a Beginners Ski Trip with the Show-Me Skiers of St. Louis, the verr first African-American Ski club of St. Louis, Missouri, I decided to go for it.  Since 1983, this group of winter outdoor recreationists have been planning ski and snow boarding outings for adults and families.
It’s a rather popular outing because there were two busloads of skiers of all ages headed to Sundown Mountain Resort of Dubuque, Iowa.  One reason was the affordability.  The group negotiated a package that cost less $200 person (on average) for the weekend.  Related to skiing, the cost of lessons, equipment rental, lift and access to the slopes for two days of skiing or snowboarding was $60 for the whole weekend!  I know, super affordable and a great incentive to attract anyone interested in skiing or snowboarding.

Fellow Outdoor Afros taking a break from the slopes

I decided to give snowboarding a try.  I was no better at snowboarding than I was at skiing.  Both require muscles that I obviously have no command over! LOL!
It was a fun time and I recommend Show-Me Skiers, skiing or the Sundown Ski Mountain to anyone, especially to a newbie.  Here are more photos from the Ski Trip.

Outdoor "I do"

Christine, Pastor Clark, and Antoine

Christine, Pastor Betty Clark, and Antoine

I have always thought of the outdoors as an ideal setting to wed, and last weekend my nephew Antoine and his lovely fiancé Christine embodied the magic of outdoor nuptials in a beautiful beach side ceremony. The two met and fell in love years ago as camp counselors at the Bar 717 Ranch Camp, located in Northern California.

My Growing Family

My Growing Family

The setting was a stunning public beach in Santa Barbara, located about an hour north of Los Angeles. In addition to the invited guests, scores of beach-goers out for a casual Sunday afternoon in the sand, watched and stood reverently silent during the ceremony, allowing the words of Christine and Antoine’s vows to soar with the sound of the wind and waves.

No less than a cathedral

No less than a cathedral

The newlyweds are now honeymooning and outdoor adventuring in Hawaii.
Congratulations Antoine and Christine!