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Colorado woman hikes 485 miles to challenge assumptions about race and the outdoors


On August 27, Patricia Cameron took to Twitter to celebrate an enormous accomplishment: she finished hiking all 485 miles of the Colorado Trail, which runs from Waterton Canyon all the way to Durango.


Cameron is CEO of the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit Blackpackers, which works to provide free or low-cost gear and outdoor excursions to people who don’t have as much access to enjoy Colorado’s great outdoors. The purpose of her hike was to bring awareness to the lack of diversity in outdoor culture, as well as highlight the mission of Blackpackers.

“It’s just been the case in this country that once the outdoors and outdoor recreation was commoditized,” Cameron explained, “the most vulnerable tended to have trouble accessing it in the same way that others can.”

For all 485 miles, Cameron said she was the only Black person she saw on the trail. The lack of diversity reinforced her mission. She says she wants to change the perception of the outdoors so that when people think of activities like hiking the Colorado Trail, they won’t necessarily think of what Cameron calls Colorado’s “bro culture.”

“Maybe they’ll think of me!” she said. “And I think that’s a huge step in changing the narrative of the outdoors.”

Update, September 4: After we published Patricia's story and shared it on social media, we received a flood of positive feedback and uplifting messages. Here are some of our favorites.

"Every time I go hiking, I will think of you! You're a brave woman and an awesome hiker. Thanks for inspiring me!" wrote Mary Ann O'Rourke.

Christopher Goffredo said, "You go girl!"

"Congrats Patricia," wrote Azure Hansen, "and thank you for leading and inspiring others!!"

To read all the nice things people had to say about Patricia and her impressive accomplishment, visit our Facebook page.

No matter how difficult the journey got, Cameron reminded herself why she was out there.

“I did it because I wanted to bring attention to diversity in outdoors and representation in outdoors, and basically just spread the word about the work that Blackpackers is doing, trying to create economic equity in the outdoors,” she said.

Cameron documented her trip on Twitter and in weekly dispatches for Backpacker Magazine. Though service was limited in many parts of the journey, she said sharing her story was a vital part of the mission.

“In order for me to really work on increasing representation in the outdoors, and showing a black woman doing it, I kind of had to show a black woman doing it,” Cameron said. “Whenever I got a chance, I tweeted about it because I wanted people to feel invested in my journey.”

Cameron began the hike on July 6, and it was by far the longest hike she’s ever done. It also came with a fair amount of challenges.

Cameron believes it was in Indian Ridge when she found herself stuck in a hail and wind storm. A group of hikers saw her attempting to take shelter under a canopy of trees when they came to her aid.

“They all said, ‘We’re not leaving you behind!’” Cameron recounts. “This group of people who I had never met...took me with them and took me in as part of their group, and as a group they went as slow as I went, because I was a pretty slow person out there. And they got me over that ridge. They just kept saying, ‘We’re not going to leave you.’”

For Cameron, the camaraderie on the trail is one of the things that stood out to her the most. She said she has made friends for life, and that many of the hikers she spoke with were interested in the work Blackpackers is doing. “I think the trail restored my faith in humanity,” Cameron said.

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