Authors: Faren Rajkumar @faren_wanderer
1. Tell us about you & your journeys?
“Hi! My name is Shanice. I also go by Sol. I use She/Her pronouns and I reside on Puyallup and Coast Salish lands. I am biracial (Black + white).
I’ve always been someone who enjoys the outdoors. 2017 is when I started getting into hiking. The following year is when I went on my first hike by myself – the classic Rattlesnake Ledge here in Washington. Reaching the summit is when the flame of hiking and getting outdoors as much as possible ignited. Now I’m primarily a solo hiker and traveler as I explore the beauties of the PNW.”
2. How do you feel about the movement to increase diverse representation in the outdoors?
“Been long overdue. Tired of solely seeing white folks as the face of the outdoors. Time for them to take a seat on the sidelines. It’s been so nice to see and even meet other folks with the Black, Indigenous and POC community getting outside and enjoying themselves as much as possible.”
3. What does community mean to you?
“It means being in a space where you can be 100% yourself without fear of needing to filter yourself. We already have to code switch and all that when we are in predominantly white spaces and it’s exhausting. Finding a community, especially one within the Black, Indigenous and POC community, gives you a moment to breathe.”
4. What are some challenges you face as BIPOC female who loves to travel?
“The number of white men that want to explain things or make unnecessary comments about the gear I have. Why do I have such a big pack for a “simple” hike or why I have a bear bell with me? I tend to carry the bear bell with me for my safety, being by myself, as well as for the animals in that area. I’m in their space so I want to make sure we keep each other safe.
White men always comment on why I have the bell or make corny jokes about it. If they think they can take on a bear, that’s on them. I’m not risking it. My goal is to always make it back home and not become a headline.”
5. How do you practice joy while on the road?
“I’ll have full blown conversations with myself, asking what I want to do that I know will make us feel joy. Once I figure out whatever that may be at the time, I make a plan to bring it into reality. I prioritize my joy by all means. There is so much out there that wants to suck all the joy outta us. So when we make finding our joy one of our top goals, we fight back against those joy suckers.”
6. What are your tips for folx who want to vanlife, hike, or explore more?
“If you want to vanlife, don’t wait until you have a van! I have camped out and traveled in my sedan and it’s great! We are so used to only seeing vans and other fancy big rigs that we forget people are also doing the same thing but in a car. We need to show more of that! Vans are expensive and most folks can barely afford a car. So make the best of it with what you have! There is no one way to live this lifestyle.”
7. Anything else you want to share with the community, about yourself?
“You’re amazing at everything and anything you do. Be gentle with yourself and go out there to live your best life!”
More powerful & sweet words, inspiring photos, and a life of exploration from Sol can be found on her IG @_sol.flower_ !