The Wild Wanderer Spotlight Series highlights the stories of queer adventurers in their own words. We hope that by sharing these underrepresented voices, outdoor diversity and inclusivity will flourish. You are not alone.
Wild Wanderer Spotlight: Troy
“The outdoors has changed my life. It has given me hope, provided me with an opportunity to feel alive, and given me a sense of comfort. But it’s not always rainbows and sunshine outside. The obstacles I have to overcome help prepare me for the emotional obstacles I face on a daily basis.” – Troy
What are your pronouns?
How do you identify?
What outdoor activities are you involved in?
Hiking, camping, backpacking, skiing, kayaking, and swimming.
Tell us about a favorite/memorable outdoor adventure you’ve had:
A day I’ll never forget:
I wake up on one of the most raw beaches I have ever seen with haunting fog lurking, fallen tree logs, rock formations shooting up from the ocean, and tide pools filled with colorful starfish and sea urchins. After exploring the tide pools we hike back to our van. The walk along the shoreline at low tide is remarkable – a combination of hiking over rocks and logs while also being able to stroll along a sandy beach. We see split rock and its aggressiveness in the distance. It’s even more breathtaking up close. After a short two-mile hike, we make it back to the van. We have a lot of driving today.
Our first stop is the Hoh Rainforest. We do a small nature hike here. This place is amazing – green everywhere from the shrubs and ferns lining the floors to the moss drooping from the tall trees. There are trees growing on top of older fallen trees. There is so much life that it’s hard to imagine how our existence has destroyed so many places like this.
After walking the forest, we get back into our van to drive up to Shi Shi beach. During the drive we start to see and feel the cold fog moving from the ocean into the woods. We are now at the northernmost tip of the peninsula, driving through Native American lands. We pick up our hiking permit at a local mart and head to the trailhead.
The trail is a combination of lush green coastal forest and sandy beaches. The first two miles are on a well-maintained trail. Some parts are covered in mud and some have nice little bridges to get you over streams. Finally we get to the shoreline where the fog is so thick that if you were ten steps away from your hiking partners, they may vanish into what seems to be a never-ending mist. After debating whether to continue to hike along the shore or to head back into the forest to hopefully get back to camp before high tide, we decide we came all the way here – so let’s just keep walking and see what happens!
About one mile down the beach, the sun starts to break through the mist and these giant rock formations start growing in the distance until the sky is clear and blue and the air becomes dry. We get to the point of arches and are totally blown away, wondering how we could have ever missed this. We explore the tide pools and some caves carved out by the sea itself. The sun is starting to set into the distance and we hike back, watching the sky turn from blue to orange. By the time we get back to the trailhead, the sun has almost fully set. We hike into the forest where we stop about every 10 steps to gaze through the trees at the sun setting over the ocean.
We get back to our car and it’s dark – we still have a long drive ahead of us. We decide to bust out the cheap wine and some freeze-dried meals. Within minutes we are feasting and then back on the road. We arrive back at the beach where the tides are so high there is barely any beach left. We wonder if our tent and gear will survive the new moon’s high tide. After a few steps onto the beach, the tide continues to rise and we are pushed back to hiking on fallen tree logs and large rocks, with waves crashing and splashing at our feet. Bugs are swarming our faces, trying to get the light from our headlamps, but we look up and the sky is bright with stars. Mars is a focal point.
Being in a panic, we neglect to appreciate the sky and its overwhelming wonder, wishing on shooting stars that our home is still there. We finally reach the small section of the beach where we had set up camp. There is no beach left – just rocks and logs. We finally get close enough to notice our tent is still there and we start screaming with joy, so thankful that Mother Ocean is on our side. The water is within a half-inch of our tent.
We are exhausted after a day of about 20 miles of hiking and countless hours of driving, but we can’t help ourselves. We lay back and look up at the sky for hours. The Milky Way is shining bright and Mars is like a small sun in the night sky. The frequency of the shooting stars surprises us all.
We manage to catch a meteor shower on a clear night with a new moon and waves crashing at our feet. Words cannot describe the feeling. This is the first moment I have truly felt alive in some time. It is a life-changing experience.
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges/issues facing queer people outside?
I find that most queer people I come in contact with feel as if they do not belong, that we are just supposed to stay in cities where we are surrounded by people who identify with a similar lifestyle or lived experience. Outdoor spaces tend to be in more rural places with less diversity, so being out and proud around those who may discriminate and not understand can be frightening and feel hostile.
As an LGBTQ2IA+ person, if you could change one thing about the outdoor industry, what would it be?
I would love to see more people from the community working in influential and visible positions within the industry. I would also love to see more openly gay and others from the community as sponsored athletes.
Do you have anything else to add?
I have had to overcome many obstacles in my life – some I’m more open to sharing and others I still feel immense anxiety and fear to confront. But one thing is that the outdoors has changed my life. It has given me hope, provided me with an opportunity to feel alive, and given me a sense of comfort. But it’s not always rainbows and sunshine while outside. The obstacles I have to overcome help prepare me for the emotional obstacles I face on a daily basis.
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