Sallay & Otis @OtisTheGoodDogSon

Today’s episode is with Sallay and her pup Otis @otisthegooddogson about their adventures from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the coastal beaches of North Carolina, and lots of trails in between. Sallay shares her experiences of being black in the outdoors and her views of bringing diversity to nature.

Growing up in Greely, Colorado, Sallay was introduced to the outdoors by her father who enjoyed fishing, hiking, and spending time outside. Though she and her sisters were active, she rarely saw other black people or people of color on the trails. And she constantly experienced reactions of surprise from white people, as if being in the outdoors as a black person was not “normal”. Now living in the Raleigh-Durham area, she sees more diversity though she is unsure if this is because of more population diversity or a change over time.

After moving to North Carolina, she adopted Otis during a pet adoption event. Within just a couple weeks, she was introducing him to her love of the outdoors! Their first hike was in the Duke Forest area. Some of their other favorite spots to go to include Eno River State Park, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Umstead State Park, and Hanging Rock State Park. The last is well known for its many rock formations and Hanging Rock, which rises up high above the forest below and offers an amazing view of the nearby valley. On the east coast of the state, Sallay and Otis have visited Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. On the other side of the state, in Pisgah National Forest to the west, is another favorite, Catawba Falls. She is definitely planning to return to Catawba Falls for future adventures. Her golden ticket trip would be to the amazingly beautiful Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain in Peru.

Sallay has had few issues on the trails throughout North Carolina, but has felt a lack of diversity and sometimes a less welcome environment while camping, especially in more rural areas. Safety is definitely one of her concerns. A few precautions she and her partner have relied on in order to be safe are researching locations, general preparedness with the right gear, always taking a phone, and always letting someone know where they are. Her hope as well as mine, is that by motivating more BIPOC to get outside and into nature it will help to increase the safety, improve accessibility, and put an end to the stereotype that the outdoors isn’t for black people.

Sallay gave an amazing list of shout outs and hashtags to follow for BIPOC and accounts that are working towards improving diversity in the outdoors: @wildginaa, #blackoutdoorjoy, @diversify.vanlife, @irietoaurora, @blackgirlstrekkin, @doesthiscountasvanlife, @meliseymo, @melaninbasecamp, @karl_shakur_, @adaezenoelle, @_sol.flower_, @rongriswell, @naturechola, @colourthetrails, @jujumil, @blackpeoplewhohike, @akunahikes, @outdoorafro, @urbanclimbr, @unlikelyhikers, @themirnavator, @she_colorsnature, @jitabebe, @fantaffstic, @michelledoubleelle, @switchbackshawty, @indegenouswomenhike.

Some dog accounts she recommends are @northernjindo, @zion.nationalpup, @griffeyflood, @karmathesheprador, and @kianaintheruff. Recently @ellenandpack made a great post that includes many more BIPOC adventure dog accounts.

Thanks for listening!

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