In 2017, Luz Lituma and Adriana Garcia hiked down to Havasu Falls, the iconic watering hole on the Havasupai Reservation in northwestern Arizona. When they arrived, they noticed something different. “In the water, everyone was brown,” says Adriana. “They looked like us!” Adriana and Luz were taken aback.
Adriana hikes to connect with her roots. Why do you hike? Share your story on Instagram, post a photo and tag @eddiebauer #WhyIHike.
Coming from the South, the two friends had never been part of the majority. “I grew up culturally confused,” says Adriana. Her mom is white and from Tennessee; her dad is from Zacatecas, Mexico. Growing up, dinner was chicken and dumplings one night and carne asada the next. Luz, the daughter of Ecuadoran immigrant parents, was also raised mostly in the South, in Georgia.
Seeing other people who looked like them sparked something inside them. Then they saw a sign. A literal sign, etched into the wood of a ladder they were climbing to get back to the campground. It was the word “por aquí,” which means “this way,” with an arrow pointing ahead.
“It was the first time we’d seen Spanish words on a hike in the U.S.,” says Adriana. They started talking about how great it would be to showcase others like them, to show the world that the outdoors is more than just “straight white men climbing 16,000-foot mountains,” says Adriana.
That it is also gardening, like Luz’s grandma had done. And grilling carne asada, like Adriana’s dad does next to the lake. And walking six miles to get to work, as Luz’s mom did in Ecuador. Or having a picnic and listening to cumbia and reggaeton, which both women love doing.
But they kept coming back to hiking—Luz’s most memorable experience was finishing a grueling 12-mile uphill climb in Peru, and Adriana grew up hiking in the woods behind her house. “Hiking is a place to connect with nature and my ancestors,” she Adriana says.
After Arizona, they drove to Utah’s Zion National Park, and in the middle of a slot canyon came up with the name for their new group: “LatinX.” “We liked that it was gender-neutral, powerful, and represented people like us,” says Adriana. They were so inspired by the name that Luz dashed back to the campsite so she could claim the Instagram handle “LatinXhikers.” It was open.
They went all in. Adriana, who was working as an accountant, left her job shortly after. She now manages LatinX and works part-time in Atlanta. Luz, who was working in market research, shifted her focus to LatinX, too, and now works for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy leading a LatinX trail maintenance team.
Over the past year and a half, LatinXhikers has become a grassroots community organization. The goal is to make it fun and inviting—the group hikes they lead often end up with tostadas for lunch and listening to reggaeton. “Our hope is to connect people of color and LatinX people back with their roots in the outdoors,” says Adriana. “Even though so many of our ancestors grew up ranching and gardening and being in the outdoors their whole lives, we’ve gotten away from it.”
They also believe the outdoors can change the world. “If I hadn’t gone on that one hike when I was in my twenties in Peru, I never would have grown to appreciate the outdoors,” says Luz. “Ultimately it’s future conservation of the earth as well. The more people we get outside, the more people will take care of it.”
For nearly 100 years, Eddie Bauer has been inspiring and enabling people to live their adventure. Eddie Bauer aims to partner with those who share our passion for the outdoors as part of the “Why I Hike” Campaign, by highlighting groups of adventurers, entrepreneurs, activists, and community leaders who are working to make the outdoors a more accessible, inclusive, and inviting place. Why do you hike? Share your story on Instagram, post a photo and tag @eddiebauer #WhyIHike.