Find Your Hiking Tribe
Cover image: Joyce and her friend Jolene on a hike. All images: Joyce Britton
I’ve been hiking now for almost eight years and have met many people from all walks of life who share a common interest: the great outdoors. I’m an introvert by nature, but when it comes to getting outdoors and hitting the trails, I enjoy spending those moments with others, particularly a few friends that I affectionately call my tribe.
Convict Lake might have been the destination, but the journey getting there was equally, if not more, important.
Throughout my hiking adventures, as I hiked with various groups, I came to realize that adventuring wasn’t just about getting to a destination.
It was about the journey in getting there.
The author in Convict Canyon.
Cliché, but true. When hiking, I would often lag behind in hiking groups and end up being the lone person who would reach the rest stop or destination last. This meant my group was ready to go—having waited for me—and I rarely got a chance to have a snack or enjoy lunch. I would rush to join them and then end up missing something along the way.
This wasn’t working for me.
I love to look around when I hike. I record most of my longer day hikes to upload to my YouTube channel and often enlist my friends as production staff on the episodes when they are available. I’m also known for taking hundreds of pictures that I enjoy sharing on Instagram. I’m all about scenery, stopping to smell the roses, inhaling the fresh air and giving thanks for every moment that I get to spend on the trail.
There are only a handful of people that understand that part of me and get it. It took me a long time to find those people and I had hiked with several different groups before finding the ones that I truly clicked with.
BHFs: Best Hiking Friends.
At first, I became my own tribe. I got tired of always being the last one to summit the mountain or reach a particular destination, so I decided to go it alone and hike solo. I reasoned that since I usually end up hiking alone anyway, I might as well just hit the trails by myself and not have the pressure of keeping up or catching up to anyone. I could set my own goals and expectations for the adventures, take as much time as I want on the photography and actually breathe in all the fresh air of the natural surroundings.
And then a few years ago, I came across a hiking group where one section of the group was described as being for “picture takers.” I’m usually hesitant to hike with a new group, but one day, I decided I’d had enough of hiking solo and joined the group for a trek up Mt. Baldy, one of my favorite local mountains. Until then, I hadn’t met anyone who took the trails at my relaxed speed and appreciated the simple things on the journey to the top as I do. That hike marked the beginning of a wonderful friendship with some amazing hikers who really get me in every way.
You know you’ve found your tribe when you can fully be yourself without restraint or any form of shame when you do or say something silly or otherwise embarrassing. My tribe moves as fast or slow as I do and rather than complain or criticize me for not going faster, they enjoy the moments where we stop to smell the flowers or take the time to frame the perfect shots. They don’t see these special moments as wasted time, but rather as opportunities to strengthen our bond as friends. We laugh as well as cry together and share life’s greatest triumphs and defeats.
The hiking trails are the road trips we take by foot, and when you’ve found the right people to spend that time with, you will have some of the greatest adventures of your life.
Joyce Britton, a.k.a “Sierra Princess,” hikes and leads group adventures throughout Southern California and the Eastern Sierra. She believes in taking life one step at a time. You can follow her adventures on her blog, , and also on , , and .