DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado woman is celebrating after completing the Colorado Trail. It took Patricia Cameron seven weeks to hike 485 miles, from Waterton Canyon to Durango. She’s a green hiker and a Blackpacker, raising awareness to the economic barriers of an equitable outdoors.
Cameron is the founder of Blackpackers, a nonprofit that aims to address the gap in representation in the outdoors. The organization provides gear, outdoor excursions and education for free or at a reduced cost.
“There are a lot more barriers to hiking that people, who have been in it to for a while, don’t think about anymore,” said Cameron, “The entry level cost to backpacking is very expensive.”
Cameron says the proper shoes might cost a day’s worth of work. Even the app she uses to navigate is worth a couple hours of someone’s shift. She says the cost of gear inhibits many people of color from taking on the trails.
“All together I saw 7 people of color, but I think I was the only Black person out there,” said Cameron. “The very first week I had a woman of color come with me. She was sponsored by Moosejaw Mountaineering. The last week I had two women come who were also sponsored by Moosejaw Mountaineering.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Patricia Cameron’s Photos From Her Solo Colorado Trail Hike
Cameron started Colorado Blackpackers after she began camping and fishing with her son. She noticed they were often the only people of color for miles. Along the Colorado Trail, Cameron made friends who gave her an additional push to push through, but she says her biggest motivation to complete the journey was her child.
“Solo hiking can be tough because your brain will go places that are dark or tough to deal with. I would walk for hours, thinking of him, thinking that he’d be proud of me. It got me through it,” said Cameron.
It was one of the greatest accomplishments of her life, but Cameron said the journey made her feel small at times. The expansive views were breathtaking, but she knew this journey was bigger than herself. She hopes her experience will inspire more people color to hit the Colorado trails.
“You can definitely make it. There’s a huge community out there, it’s not just me. There are so many amazing Black leaders in Colorado, but you can do this if you want to do this on your own. We are so much more capable than we think. There were so many times when I thought the pain was overwhelming or the loneliness was overwhelming, but once I realized if it was me telling myself that, I could tell myself otherwise,” said Cameron.
Blackpacker participants are also connected with volunteer opportunities, internships and jobs. To donate to Blackpackers, or learn more about the organization, visit coblackpackers.com.