Evelynn Escobar’s first introduction to hiking was at 10 years old, when she visited California for the first time. She was surprised by the scenic beauty of the mountains and how quickly she could find her way to the beach after a day of hiking. It was then that she not only fell in love with the West Coast, but that she discovered a new way of healing through nature. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles and continued exploring the local trails by herself. But it wasn’t until she started visiting national parks that she realized most visitors on the trails were white—something that felt shocking to her, considering how popular the parks were. That was a eureka moment for her, and what compelled her to start Hike Clerb, an intersectional women’s hike club and non-profit organization with a mission to make the outdoors more inclusive.
Since 2017, Escobar has been gathering Black, Indigenous, and women of color on monthly hikes and educational workshops in LA (and occasionally in other cities around the country) to equip them with resources and experiences they need to connect with nature as a form of healing. “I wanted to create a literal safe space for other Black, Indigenous, and women of color to come together and to have that space to collectively heal in nature, because it also did so much for my own personal healing journey,” she says. To her, it’s all about “planting seeds for the future generations to come.”
We spoke with the avid hiker and social justice advocate about her first memories exploring the outdoors, how Hike Clerb is helping communities, and her go-to packing list for hiking and camping trips.
Thrillist: What are your first memories of exploring the outdoors?Evelynn Escobar: I was definitely one of those kids who grew up playing outside. But I think the most pivotal memories I have in the outdoors [are] when I was visiting Los Angeles for the first time. I was 10 years old and I visited my aunt who was living here. That was my first introduction to hiking. [I remember] just being so in awe of being able to drive to the beach to the mountains the same day. And then in fifth grade I did this field trip to an outdoor adventure park. It's a place that you go to do team building activities and things like that. So we did the zip line and there's canopy walking, we walked on a little bridge to the trees and things like that. I was so obsessed with that field trip.