Katherine Donnelly | 07.24.2018

As part of Outdoor Project's Women In the Wild series this summer, I have had the honor of working with outdoor women from all over the industry to dig a bit deeper into who they are, how they got to where they are now, how they approach the outdoors, and more. These women are all rad in their own right, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or how "badass" they might be. Whether they're mothers, daughters, sisters, professional athletes, beginners, weekend warriors, "instafamous," or anywhere in-between, their unique stories, journeys, opinions, and perspectives are incredibly valuable and insightful as Outdoor Project - and the industry as a whole - progresses and evolves to become more inclusive to every type of outdoors person. 

Through in-depth and often thought-provoking interviews, I hope to highlight these women's stories, their work, their adventures, and so much more with an eye toward giving them their well-deserved share of the spotlight while inspiring and empowering even more women to get outside!

In this feature we talk to Luz Lituma.

A hiking trip in Peru combined with inspiring outdoor posts on social media empowered this Women In The Wild to get outside and fall in love with nature three years ago. Now she is co-founder of LatinX Hikers and hitting the trails as often as possible. Get the full scoop below. 

OP: Give us the skinny on who Luz Lituma is.

Luz Lituma: I’m a spontaneous, goofy, soft spoken, Ecuadorian American. An introvert. An active activist. A storyteller. Co-founder of @latinxhikers. A proud Latina!

OP: When did you first know that you were going to spend your life in the outdoors?

Luz Lituma: Not too long ago actually. Three years ago I went on a trip to Cusco without even imagining how much it would impact my life. I took an impromptu guided tour to Rainbow Mountain in Vinicunca and wheezed my way to the top. Honestly, I did not know what I was getting myself into. It’s still the hardest day hike I’ve ever done because of the altitude. When I got to the top, it made me feel like I could do anything. After that hike I got obsessed with planning trips looking for landscapes instead of cities. It changed the way I viewed travel opportunities. It changed the way I viewed the universe. I gained much more appreciation for lands. We’re just tiny parts of the world that can impact such a big space.

OP: What does it mean to you to be a Latina in the outdoor industry?

Luz Lituma: We belong here. We’ve been excluded in this industry for so long that it feels like, "Hey, we’re finally being represented." We’ve been out here….we just haven’t gotten the chance to shine like we have been recently. I’m hoping this isn't just a trend and retailers proceed with maintaining diversity not only in their campaigns but also within their corporate settings. Go check out the @Outdoorceopledge on instagram to spread the word!

OP: Who has inspired you along the way?

Luz Lituma: The random people I see on the internet posting awesome pictures. Social media played a big role into getting me into the outdoors. All the people sharing their stories and also sharing facts on lands. I’m forever learning and being inspired from others who use their platform to speak out.

Also, amazing people like Teresa Baker, founder of African American Nature & Parks Experience, and Jose Gonzalez from Latino Outdoors, who I stalk on the daily on the internet. They work so hard to help with diversifying the outdoors, and it inspires me on the daily. They’re like mentors and don't even know it!

OP: What does adventure mean to you?

Luz Lituma: Getting lost in something else other than the daily routine. Adventure means uncertainty and unknown, and those are two things that scare me but I live for. Its uncomfortable at times, but I enjoy being pushed out of the comfort zone when it comes to things like that.

OP: What does the term "badass" mean to you?

Luz Lituma: It’s forever changing for me. Badass used to be pushing yourself to limits and doing extreme things, but very recently it has changed. Badass is someone who expresses their true selves. Someone expresses themselves with passion. Someone who's comfortable saying, "You know what? I don’t need to prove anything to anyone ima do my own thing." Someone who can be a team player and who lifts others up!

OP: What mantra or set of words do you live by?

Luz Lituma: Try everything once! Except for meth. I’ve heard it’s addictive. But on a serious note, you don’t know what could turn into your new passion unless you try it!

OP: What is one thing that you never leave home without?

Luz Lituma: A deck of cards. I love to play solitaire. Especially outside. I get so lost in it.

OP: Let’s talk gear - what are your thoughts on women-specific gear? Love it, hate it? Are there any companies out there doing it right? And how so? When does it matter to you most to have gear specific to women versus unisex products?

Luz Lituma: I’m the worst person to talk about gear. I got a pair of hiking boots for Christmas, and if it wasn’t for that, I probably would still be hiking in my sneakers. I don’t believe you need all the fancy equipment out there. My mother use to have to “hike” 4 miles a day to get to her teaching job back in Ecuador. Sometimes she'd even do it in heels.

Of course it is really nice to have a waterproof boot and some nice leggings, but not necessary. It’s important to portray this because I feel like it deters people from going out there sometimes. Even when I first started hiking, I personally thought, “Hey, I don't look like the rest of the people out there, I don't have all that fancy gear so maybe I shouldn’t do it 'till I get those things.”

I have learned that there are items such as winter jackets that are insanely helpful. I bought my parents some expensive puff jackets for winter, and it was so eye-opening how it can make winter tolerable.

OP: If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were just starting out with LatinX Hikers, what would it be?

Luz Lituma: PUT.THE.PHONE.DOWN. This still takes up so much time, but we’ve learned to designate times for it. It’s important to keep your "you," time especially in the outdoors. That’s part of the reason why I love the outdoors so much, because you disconnect..but when you run an Instagram account, you kind of feel obligated to document everything. So you have to find a way to maneuver through that.

OP: The title of your autobiography would be...

Luz Lituma: “Sure, I’m down!”

OP: Tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows.

Luz Lituma: I carry an eyelash curler in my purse at all times.

OP: If our readers were to take one thing from this interview, what would you like it to be?

Luz Lituma: I have my personal experiences that I share. They definitely don’t represent everyone. I’m not a scholar. I am constantly learning. I love learning through others experiences. It’s important to share your story, so please! I encourage you to do so!

Learn more about Luz by following her on Instagram, and check out LatinX Hikers both online and on the 'gram


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