This can easily be a 2016 in review note but it’s not. It’s just that my alter ego, Brown Gal Trekker, has taken over much of the time recently and I finally feel compelled to comment and express my views as “me.”
Hi, I’m Marinel, the girl behind Brown Gal Trekker.
If you have been following my blog, you may get a sense how preoccupied my life has been with writing and marketing via social media. First off, I apologize to my Facebook friends who have to witness the crazy amounts of social media networking from my end via Facebook. I’m sure you’re devoid of enjoyment seeing me clog up your feed. Trust me, I do feel a bit old for such things.
Brown Gal’s mission and pursuits have taken over the spotlight. I had taken a back seat and witnessed every move she’s made to push forward with her agenda – one that constitutes inspiring others (albeit at times preachy) to hike up mountains, promote diversity, women, solo hiking/traveling and offbeat topics such as blood types, aging and menstrual flow.
The blog launched in September of 2016 and since then I’ve seen the possibilities emerge for someone like Brown Gal Trekker who all these years held doubts about her place in the world of outdoors and traveling. Sure, no doubt, she’s been traveling for almost two decades and spending time in the outdoors half that amount of time. But, Brown Gal Trekker had doubts about how she fit in all these for the simple fact that she is a conundrum in many ways. She’s a world traveler who happens to be obsessed with mountain trekking. That’s quite expansive in terms of coverage. While many travel bloggers talk about spending days in Rome, she’ll only talk about Rome as a stopover to get to the Dolomites. While most outdoors bloggers have a specific niche and location for their hiking adventures, Brown Gal Trekker tends to cast a wider net and trek all over the world. She has no loyalty to a specific trekking region or country for that matter. So, that begs the question, where does Brown Gal Trekker fit in?
I was afraid for her to be honest.
Afraid for her to be disappointed to find out that the world may not be welcoming of her eccentricities. The fact that she talks about places that no one has heard of such as Zhangjiajie, Yading, Ausangate or Prokletije. The fact that she wants to talk more about the meaning of life as it relates to the experiences on the mountain trails than talking about the logistics of the trek itself. The fact that she constantly needs innovative ideas pouring out of her senses to tell a story about an adventure she’s had in popular places like the Inca Trail or Kilimanjaro. Darn it! Why can’t she just relay the story like everyone else? Why be so difficult?
Hence, I wondered – is there room for someone who doesn’t follow the crowd?
I watched my alter ego go at it, every moment she gets outside her 9 to 5 job. I watched her unleash her poetic side and bravely write a heartfelt piece about being a girl who treks but feeling misunderstood oftentimes for her passion and yearning to find other women who can relate. I watched her agonize at her lawyer job for feeling out of place among a herd of ambitious lawyers who all aspire to become judges when she could care less about being the next one in line. I watched her in deep thoughts as she debated in her mind the nuances of gaining wisdom from formal education versus traveling and feeling more in tune with the latter. I watched her criticize traveling for its imperfections knowing she’s so imperfect herself. I watched her feel overjoyed from the fact that despite reluctantly opening up through her writing, that level of vulnerability actually led to some like-minded humans out there to reply back to her and say, “Hey, we hear you!” Truthfully, these were some amazing forms of validation to be had. Naturally, Brown Gal Trekker experienced immense feeling of appreciation from it.
Then, at some point, she faced the realization as to the significant amount of work involved to follow such a unique path.
Her building an empire via Peak Explorations in which she gets to share with others the experience of mountain trekking requires enormous amount of effort and time, after all – one that goes beyond what she initially thought. There were also issues along the way from the usual hurdles of launching a business to learning how to accept that her specific niche of marketing trekking tours can be the riskiest thing she’ll ever get herself into. Not to mention the sense of isolation inherent in the world of trekking business as a female founder where men dominate the field almost entirely. “What can you (who’s a woman and a person of color) contribute differently of value with your enterprise?” This was the question Brown Gal Trekker had to constantly deal with from the business world which is how the external world demands in a subtle manner that she prove herself to those who don’t totally embrace her being a person of color and a female in a entrepreneurial capacity. So, why do it?
Based on all of that, fear pops up every so often, uninvited nonetheless. I’ve seen her tell fear to take a hike verbally and in writing. She trudges on and I continue to watch to see how much she can handle the pressures, the rejections, and challenges that came by along the way. One thing that seems to instill fervor in her determination to succeed is this sense of freedom that she firmly believes she’ll acquire at the end of it all. For the sake of freedom, she’s learned expeditiously to be unwavering and decisive. I get exhausted just watching her trudge on the uphills of her endeavors; and yet at awe at every second that she’s still at it with no end in sight.
But so many wonderful things happened in the 3 months Brown Gal Trekker has been in existence.
She’s now connected with leading entities in the outdoors and is thrilled to work side by side with them in various projects such as this one in the past and this one that is currently underway. She’s more inspired than ever by fellow bloggers who she met along the way to continue assuming the role of an advocate for women, for those seeking freedom by becoming their own boss and inclusiveness in the world of mountain trekking or in the media. She’s strengthened her relationship with local trek operators globally to market trekking tours of great value to avid mountain trekkers. She discovered her allies outnumber the critics. As such, she forges ahead without a single ounce of energy wasted on those who doubt her dreams. She learned to trust that when one’s intentions are pure, the world conspires to lead you to the right door way and even unlock closed doors as needed to pave the way to your goals.
As Brown Gal Trekker and I venture into 2017, I anticipate more challenges and setbacks for her to endure. 2016 was just the start -the warm up and the prep for the big year coming up. For one, there’s Brown Gal’s determination to bring a group of American hikers to Pakistan to trek up to K2 base camp to be amazed by nature’s beauty in that part of the world despite the hurdles of obtaining visas and the constant need to monitor safety. It’ll also be a curious endeavor to lead a group to trek in Pakistan as a female because the country is male dominated in many aspects of life. But, I can assure you, at least for now, the negotiations and dealings are going well with utmost respect emanating from both ends. This rare pursuit is all being done as part of the mission of her social enterprise, Peak Explorations. On a lighter note, alongside all these challenges are more innovative ideas, treks, collaborations, friendships, partnerships, growth and abundance in the work she does, both with her blog and social enterprise.
In closing, I had a ridiculously busy and yet magical year with Brown Gal Trekker. Despite the confusion that greeted her in the beginning, I believe that she managed to carve her own space amidst the vast landscape of the blogging world.
In it, she effectively found her own voice, and to her that, in and of itself, is success.
Somewhere between the world of travelers and the hiking world, you’ll find Brown Gal Trekker. She hovers over both worlds the same way she did at the very start of this journey except at this juncture she’s fully learned to embrace the uniqueness of her purpose of bridging the gap between the two worlds. She realized that both worlds have welcomed her ideas with open arms, be it conventional or otherwise. For that, she’s eternally grateful. Finding her voice is akin to finding a sense of eternal belonging, and in her mind, no longer would there be a moment in which she would succumb to the senseless allure of self-doubt.
Knowing her, she never started her pursuits of becoming a blogger and a founder of a social enterprise just for the sake of fame or popularity. She values privacy; hence, it took her years to decide to make her blog public which is in all honesty a reflection of her own inner journey to fully accept and love her authentic self. From the start, Brown Gal only wanted to pursue blogging and her enterprise for the purpose of leaving a positive impact in the world, which is the same idealism that she holds in her role as a public servant on her day job. After all, Peak Explorations was born out of her passion for trekking in the mountains, at the urging of local operators who she met along the way to promote local tourism and due to the need to create treks to encourage solo travelers to take their passion on mountain trails outside of the U.S.
To her, these were the underlying motivations from the start. Likewise, Brown Gal would have easily dropped the idea of blogging if there was no gap or need for her to fill and serve a purpose for, and instead pursue a different dream such as starting a hostel or anything to that effect. She adamantly opposes filling the role of a carbon copy. If others have touched upon a topic, then she would rather not write anything that will merely be a repetition of the same idea devoid of any sense of creativity. As a promise to herself, she will not write for the sake of producing content as quality over quantity has been her mantra.
In the three months of actively writing, Brown Gal Trekker quickly learned to adapt the best way she could to the ultimate shift – from being guarded to accepting the beautiful connections she has developed out of allowing herself to be raw and and vulnerable. So far, she feels no regrets about such a personal decision and the manner in which she has learned to write and share her hiking or travel stories as unapologetically herself.
As for me, I’m in it for the ride. I’m still doing the 9 to 5 job to support my alter ego but frankly I can’t wait for Brown Gal Trekker to get to where she needs to be so I can take a back seat forever and simply be Brown Gal Trekker’s alter ego. Until then, I will continue to encourage her to take the much deserved break as called upon by her spirit to meditate and enjoy life apart from her being Brown Gal Trekker.
If you managed to read up to this point, thanks. I figured you also realized by now that this was essentially a year in review of the Brown Gal Trekker blog (more 3 months in review, to be exact), if only in disguise.
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