Hiking is for everyone, but not everyone feels welcome to hike

Sirena Rana Dufault has hiked Mount Lemmon, outside Tucson, more times than she can say. But she still has a sense of wonder, noticing little things, including a dust-colored lizard skittering past. Dufault, 44, appears at home here, in a pine forest, on a trail.

“I want other people to experience this,” she said. “And I want other people to feel like they’re welcome to experience this.”

But she knows not everyone does, for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s about physical ability. Sometimes it’s about transportation. And sometimes it’s about the color of your skin.

“If you just see people who don’t look like you, it just feels different,” Dufault said.

As the daughter of a father from India and mother from Italy, Dufault gets it. She has hiked the entire 800-mile Arizona Trail – twice – and said the farther you get into the backcountry, the fewer hikers of color you see.

“It’s just that feeling like, like an otherness,” she said. And that can be intimidating and limiting.

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