At Home With Hike Clerb Founder Evelynn Escobar

At Home With Hike Clerb Founder Evelynn Escobar

I’m not sure I believed in the elusive pregnancy glow until I got on a video call with Evelynn Escobar. Even through my laptop screen, her skin is luminous, radiant—but there’s something deeper going on, too. It’s an inherent peace, a calm breath, a quiet confidence that comes from within.

Currently pregnant with her first child, Escobar admits that she’s had to do some painful self-work in order to get to the place she is now. In her mind, our kids shouldn’t have to inherit our traumas, so it’s our responsibility to work through them first.

Evelynn Escobar

Healing is a process, of course, and Escobar is here for it, in more ways than one. Based in Los Angeles, she’s the founder of Hike Clerb: an intersectional women’s hike group and non-profit organization aimed at making the outdoors more accessible and safe for self-identifying women of color. Nature is its own form of healing, after all.

Escobar and her husband recently moved into a new home, so I caught up with her to discuss all things indoors—okay, and outdoors, too.

What’s the pregnancy experience been like for you thus far?

Honestly, I have loved being pregnant. Seeing your body change and feeling a baby kick you inside your womb—it’s been such a beautiful experience. And not only that, but having your baby bump grow and be a part of you is, I think, the cutest thing ever. So I’ve loved every second of the experience. Granted, when I first was my first trimester, yes, I was nauseous. Thankfully I wasn’t throwing up, but you wake up queasy, you go to bed queasy, and you’re super tired. Then once I hit the second trimester, I was like, “Oh, I’m back—I can hike 10 miles and I don’t feel like I’m pregnant.” And now that I’m in the last part of it, there are little aches and pains, and sometimes it’s hard to roll out of bed. But it’s just been so exciting; you’re embarking on this huge unknown experience. It also has been such a huge time for my own rebirth and becoming a new version of myself that is honestly living in her total truth. I feel very prepared now to be somebody’s mom, which I never thought I would say even nine months ago.

Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean when you say your pregnancy has helped you find your total truth?

It brings up all the dust of you needing to face things head-on, whether that’s your own healing and generational trauma—and for me, that’s very much what it’s been. Because when you are growing a new person and you’re going to bring someone into this world, you don’t want to pass on your own traumas, things from your childhood—and for me that was the biggest thing. I think that’s when the whole sense of motherhood kicked in. It was like, “This is my responsibility to make sure that they’re coming in with this clean slate, as best as possible, and if that means going through some really tough family stuff, then that’s what it means. And I’m going to get through that for myself, so that I can get through that for them.”

Do you think that being pregnant in the pandemic has altered the experience for you at all? Aside from the obvious ways that it’s altered everyone’s lives.

I think it’s actually made it better, because I’ve had the time to be by myself, take my time in that way, and really just have it be the intimate experience that it is without having all these obligations externally. And granted, it is also one of those things where you want to be surrounded by friends and you want to be surrounded by family—and in moderation, I have been able to connect with friends and family in that way. But I’ve really enjoyed the fact that it has been such an intimate experience thus far.

Let’s talk about Hike Clerb. What was the inspiration for that?

I definitely wasn’t someone who grew up hiking and camping and all that sort of stuff. I now live in LA, but growing up, my aunt lived here and when I would visit her we’d go hiking—so that kind of planted the seed, so to speak, for me to be doing exactly what I’m doing today. But it wasn’t until I moved here that I was hiking more often, by myself on occasion, and venturing out to the national parks. I visited my first national park at 23; I went to the Grand Canyon and then went to Zion National Park on the same trip, and it was there that I realized how homogenous and white the outdoors were in a way that I just had never thought about before. You don’t know what you don’t know, but then once you get out there and you see it, you're just like, “Oh, this is bizarre, because I know I’m not the only woman of color, specifically a Black and Brown woman, who is interested in hiking and outdoor recreation. Why does it look this way, and why isn’t anyone talking about this in a bigger way?”

So that really inspired me to take action and to create like this literal safe space. Not only because hiking alone is, as a woman, a dangerous thing, and that was something I was doing a lot, but also because I wanted to bring women into the fold who may already have experiences outdoors, or who may have never gone on their first hike before—and to bring them together so that they could feel supported and seen in the outdoors in ways that they did not necessarily feel before. And also to give those tools and education and resources to really stake some equity in the space for women of color.

What’s it been like so far to see the community that you’ve been able to build?

It was very much intuitively-led, and I am not even someone who really loves to be front and center, which is ironic; my life now is just something I would have never imagined for myself. But from leading hikes to even just starting it, it’s just so insane to see how it has manifested and been realized, and how it continues to grow. We’ve only accomplished like, one percent of the things that we want to do.

Having started to do this work already and continue to do this work, what do you think are some of the steps that need to be taken in order to make the outdoors more safe and accessible for everyone?

A lot of people love to talk about the representation piece, which is literally just the starting line. Representation is not the end all, be all. Seeing someone who looks like me in nature is not going to change all the systemic structures that exist to have the outdoors and outdoor recreation and the environment look the way that they look. That’s just what it is, plain and simple; representation is literally just the invitation or the ability for you to visualize yourself in ways that you may never have before. So it’s going to take real fundamental changes.

I mean, we all exist on stolen land, and even acknowledging that is something that is being talked about now in a bigger way in 2021. We need land sovereignty, we need to give this land back to the people who it actually belongs to. And when we talk about that, it’s not about, “Oh, we’re transferring ownership rights in a capitalistic way.” We’re literally allowing the people who know what to do with this land do what they know how to.

Really it’s all about restoration, back to our original state of things, and then building up from there. Because if we don’t actually invest in the original stewards of this land—if we don’t invest in the communities that have been created, or connect and reconnect with the people who have been disenfranchised and are disconnected to nature, period, because of violence, because of genocides—then nothing is going to change. We can show ads with people of all colors from the biggest outdoor brands—but that’s, at the end of the day, not going to do anything except maybe promote more people of color to get out there. Which is definitely necessary. But we have so much more work to do than that.

What are some of your favorite ways to get outside these days?

Obviously I love hiking—that’s a given. Generally I love riding my bike; I love swimming, whether it’s in a lake or the ocean. I just love doing things that move my body but don’t necessarily feel like, “I’m intentionally doing this thing to exercise.” I think of movement outdoors as more of an expression than this regimented, fitness-centered thing.

Evelynn Escobar

Getting into nature—what does that do for you? Why is that so special and so restorative for you?

In the literal sense it is definitely very grounding and allows me to reset, and to restore and revitalize myself. But in the broader sense, going outside has made me feel more connected not only to myself but to my environment and to other people. And that’s something that you don’t realize or can’t experience unless you go out there. So that’s been very important on my own healing journey, and it’s brought out more of me than I would have ever guessed. The fact that I am where I am today is largely attributed to that.

Shifting inside now, what are some things you’ve done in your home to make it feel as comfortable as possible?

I bought a bright orange couch towards the beginning of the pandemic and I swear, that’s probably one of the best things I’ve purchased. We all know the aesthetic of things that are really popular on Instagram: white and airy and bright. And I do love all of that, but I’ve returned to color with this bright-ass orange couch. And now I have a green couch to accompany it; I was talking to my husband the other day and was like, “Our living room color palette is like adult Nickelodeon. That’s what we’re going with.” And then also bringing in all these plants; I just moved, and now we’re in this place with so much natural light. Those adjustments have made such a huge difference in my mental health and how I enjoy spending time at home, and have just been super helpful in still thinking of home as a sanctuary versus a place that I’m stuck in and have to work and do everything else in. So yeah, my advice is basically for everyone to buy an orange couch.

Evelynn Escobar

How has it been setting up for the arrival of the baby?

It’s so funny because pregnancy is such a big industry, period. All I have right now in their room is a Cold Picnic rug.

For us, we’ve just been taking it super low-key and naturally; a baby doesnt really need that much stuff when they come out but, obviously, with society and the way that we view pregnancy, it's like you have to buy all these things and build this nursery and do all that. Which I totally understand—it’s an exciting time—but we’re just really going with the flow, just taking our time with it. Eventually the nursery will be full, but for now we have a cute rug, and that’s enough for me.

What vitruvi products have you been enjoying lately?

I am generally an essential oil girl, so having the ability to run the diffuser and have that little extra layer of, “I’m going to transport myself to a spa right now in my own home,” is such a beautiful thing. Smells play such a huge role in your memories, so to be able set the mood in that way has just been amazing.

I have the Stone Diffuser in Terracotta, which is just beautiful and goes in any sort of place—whether you’re doing your bright, airy, white room or your adult Nickelodeon room.

And Grove Blend has been amazing because I love more musky, woodsy smells, and smells that mirror the outdoors in a big way. So Grove has been a huge one for me. I’m also excited to set the vibe when the baby comes—us having all these diffusers around enhancing that sensorial experience.

Evelynn Escobar

Are there any other grounding rituals that you’ve found helpful, especially over the past year?

I love a good bath. I’m all into self-care in the sense of real wellness. I love acupuncture; once I found out I was pregnant, I returned to a regular acupuncture practice. Massages, the chiropractor: self-care for me is those fundamental things that are actually improving your health in a bigger way.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I think one thing I would love to drive home is just that you don’t have to be one thing.

We are all these multifaceted people with all these different passions, and not everything has to be monetized. We should just have fun, because we only have this one life. We shouldn’t limit ourselves by other people’s limitations, or even our own.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.