Episode 22: Small Beauty on the Appalachian Trail – Rahawa Haile

Episode 22: Small Beauty on the Appalachian Trail

Interview with Rahawa Haile

This week’s episode is brought to you by Oru Kayak. Thank you to them for the support!

Banner image by Rahawa Haile


Following the blazes and looking up at the clouds. Interview with Rahawa Haile, writer and author of the must-read essay “How Black Books Lit My Way Along the Appalachian Trail” on Buzzfeed.

We talk with Rahawa Haile, an Eritrean-American writer living in Oakland, CA, about her northbound thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2016. Rahawa believes that if you have the inclination and the time to do a thru hike, you should hit the trail.

As one of the few black women to thru hike in 2016, Rahawa talks about how her experience is different than the “typical” hiker. She explains that despite popular belief and best intentions, the Appalachian Trail isn’t a great equalizer. She also discusses the small beauties she found along the trail: be it snow on a branch or the kindness of the hiking community.

Find Rahawa on Twitter and Instagram

Note (!) : There’s a factual error at 20:45. Rahawa actually saw at least 10 black people hiking on the Appalachian Trail, not one. This error is on the part of a misinterpretation by the host, not Rahawa.

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Music is by Broke for Free, MindsEye, Chris Zabriskie, Tours, Little Glass Men, and Lee Rosevere via freemusicarchive.org

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Rahawa on the Trail


Some Books Rahawa Carried on the AT

I Love Myself When I am Laughing…And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive by Zora Neale Hurston

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Daniele Evans

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones


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Have you been thinking about a thru hike?

  1. Jenny Hebert says:

    This is the best one yet. Such a refreshing and genuine perspective. ‘Wilderness’ isn’t all great expanses blocked with perfectly executed yoga poses in the west. It isn’t arranging our gear in a frame for friends back home. Wilderness is the river running through our very own city, the compacted soil alongside sidewalks, the streetside oak tree hosting five hundred species of lepidoptera, the highway median milkweeds feeding hungry monarchs moving south.

    This woman is expressing an appreciation for the environment very few outdoor enthusiasts actually understand. It’s a rare person who can truly enjoy a forest for its trees without rubbing their bark until they sheen with her own reflection.

    And the trail of books she left behind her was a brilliant project. Backpacking is the perfect time to expand your mind and cultural awareness, where there is ample room to stretch and grow beyond your comfort zone, to learn, and to process.

    Thank you for this interview! I am eager to follow her journeys to come.

  2. […] was an episode this spring called (edit: I originally wrote this the week it came out!) “Small Beauty on the Appalachian Trail” with writer and thru-hiker Rahawa Haile that really stuck in my mind for a lot of reasons […]

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