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Unlikely Hikers is a diverse and inclusive Instagram community featuring the underrepresented outdoorsperson. The outdoors industry and outdoors social media tend to display a very narrow definition of who is “outdoorsy.” We feature fat people, people of color, queer, trans, gender nonconforming folks, people with disabilities and so on. I don’t conflate these experiences, I want to explore and build community at their intersections. I also want to raise up conversations about mental health and the healing powers of nature. We all have a story. If you see yourself as an Unlikely Hiker, then you are. Welcome!
Want to join a group hike? Unlikely Hikers is primarily based in Portland, Oregon, but we regularly host meet-ups elsewhere. Check our schedule!
The name itself is ironic, tongue-in-cheek, reclamatory. There is nothing unlikely about wanting to enjoy and explore nature, it’s one of the most natural things any of us can want to do. The name is not literal or meant to reinforce exclusion. Yes, the outdoors and public lands belong to all of us and sure, no one is getting a handwritten invitation to our National Parks and trailheads, but exclusion isn’t always verbal. A lot of the time, it’s about representation. Representation matters! Who is being targeted for outdoor recreation? Who has a seemingly natural sense of access?
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We all love those extreme summit shots and seeing people do exciting, challenging things. I call this the “outdoors fantasy” and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not a realistic portrayal of how most of us are enjoying the outdoors. At Unlikely Hikers, I want to show there are many ways of getting out for all kinds of people. Maybe, it’s a mile walk on a paved trail along a lake. Maybe, it’s standing at the base of a waterfall for an hour letting the scenery change you. However YOU like to enjoy the outdoors, there is a place for you here.
I want to acknowledge that the literal concept of the Unlikely Hiker is very western and normative and that many cultures and indigenous people have always had an innate, cultural relationship with the outdoors and the land we recreate on. I want to share these experiences as well and believe they are a central part of the conversation.
Change your feed, change your life! Connect with other Unlikely Hikers on Instagram: @unlikelyhikers. Use the hashtags #unlikelyhiker or #unlikelyhikers and possibly be featured! Also, check our schedule to see where you might be able to catch a group hike! Want to see what the press is saying about Unlikely Hikers?
A note about our features:
On our featured posts, you will notice the following included:
- gender pronouns
- land acknowledgement
- verbal image descriptions
I want to make Unlikely Hikers as accessible to as many people as possible. Every person I feature is asked what their gender pronouns are. Why? Because gender identity is more complicated than the dominant culture has made it out to be and people should be seen as they identify. You don’t know how someone identifies just by looking at them. By including pronouns, I hope to expand our ideas of gender and make asking people their pronouns as commonplace as it should be. Land acknowledgement is also an important part of our practice. I want to challenge people, especially white people, to acknowledge that our love of the outdoors comes at a price and it’s not simply our playground. Native land being stolen from its people is not a thing of the past, it is still happening to this day (Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, etc) and we must acknowledge this in our conversations about land stewardship and conservation. I also want to encourage outdoorspeople to stop using colonialist language like “crushing” miles and “conquering” peaks. Let the land crush and conquer YOU! Lastly, I include verbal image descriptions for the visually impaired who use image reading software on their devices.
Please consider donating to or sponsoring Unlikely Hikers to help the work along.
Subscribe to the Unlikely Outdoors Newsletter! A fun, informative, once monthly newsletter featuring content I collect on issues of diversity, inclusion and equity in the outdoors as well as other issues I care about.
Some other must-follow Instagram accounts changing the outdoors narrative:
A cute video made by Superfit Hero for a giveaway we did in September 2017:
(Both logos by, Cabin Supply Co – firstname.lastname@example.org)