Women of Color Wilderness Retreat

Yosemite 4-day Empowerment Trek

with Miho Aida and Grace Anderson
Women of Color Wilderness Retreat
Date: July 30, 2020 - August 02, 2020
Location: Yosemite National Park Wilderness
Early Bird Price: $545 by May 1, 2020
Regular Price: $595
Type of Program:


Join an incredible community of inspired women on the backpacking trip of a lifetime! We will explore identity, community, and transcending both internal and external limitations during this empowering experience. This trip is beginner friendly and gear loan is available.

Anyone who self-identifies as a woman including queer and trans woman, and as non-white such as Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asians, Native Americans, Indigenous people and mixed race people is welcome and encouraged to join!

We’ve found that women — and specifically women of color — are highly under-represented in the backcountry. In this four-day course, we hope to share our love for the Yosemite wilderness by introducing women of color to the beauty of its backcountry in a supportive environment. Our amazing, experienced instructors create a safe space for learning, while inspiring participants to go beyond their comfort zones for an empowering and rewarding experience.

Our core curriculum is incorporated on this trip as much as weather and time allow. Mindful time outdoors on glacially polished granite expanses allow us to unwind after a day of hiking. Balanced Rock values time set aside for journal-writing and sharing in order to reflect on personal growth and achievements during the trip. There will be plenty of time to savor, and enjoy the mountain landscape of the High Sierra.

As featured in Outdoor Afro: Black Women DO Camp – Experience Yosemite this Summer! Our annual Women of Color Backpacking Retreat began in 2004 and, to our knowledge, was the first of its kind for women of color in the country. We are excited and encouraged to know that there are other WOC backpacking programs becoming available. Tuition assistance is available.

Want to donate to help support our Women of Color programs? Click here.


  • Backpacking, hiking, and camp-craft skills
  • Shared adventure with other women of color
  • Space for discussion on identity, diversity, empowerment and inclusion
  • Journal writing and personal reflection
  • Immersion in granite peaks and forests of the Yosemite wilderness
  • Fresh meals include local and organic ingredients

Tentative Itinerary*

We will meet at the trailhead at 9 am on our first morning. We will take time for introductions and trip orientation. Next we will have thorough instruction on what and how to pack our packs and then be on our merry way. The hike to our new home will take us the entirety of the day. We will stop for breaks and to enjoy the scenery. We’ll enjoy a delicious dinner after yoga as the Range of Light, bathed in alpenglow, lives up to its reputation. Evenings may include fireside stories, music, or gazing at the Milky Way from the cozy comfort of our sleeping bags.

The next day allows us to adapt to the natural rhythms of the planet, and flow with the specific needs and desires of the group. We may move our camp or go for a day hike and exploration of the surrounding landscapes. We may now feel a settling into our new home among granite domes and peaceful lake waters. In addition to the adventure of backpacking, each day provides opportunities for swimming in alpine lakes, day hikes to sweeping views of the High Sierra, or perhaps relaxing creek-side. Evenings are set aside for intentional discussion, wilderness education, creative journaling, music-making, or quiet contemplation around the campfire.

We might enjoy a long summer day with a lovely hike, yoga session and/or meditation session. We may choose to summit a nearby alpine peak and enjoy a lovely evening under the stars. We will continue to cover topics such as: instruction in backcountry travel skills, Leave No Trace, hiking and camp-craft, and instructor area of specialty.

Our last morning, we will enjoy a final yoga class and meditation before sharing our final breakfast together in the field. Then we will pack our backpacks and begin our hike back to the exit trailhead. After putting closure on our journey together, we will aim to conclude by 2 p.m.

*Note on Itinerary: This schedule is an outline. It is subject to change depending on the needs of the group and allowing for spontaneous inspiration. Almost all of the activities offered are optional. This program operates rain or shine.

Packing list available here

Price Includes

Professional instruction and guiding, campground and permit fees, first-aid supplies, and group gear for backpacking and camping. Balanced Rock provides delicious and high-quality meals, cooking gear, and water purification supplies.

Not Included in Program Price

Transportation to and from your hometown to Yosemite, park entrance fees, and personal items.

Cancellation Policy available here

Meet Your Guides

Miho Aida (she/her/hers), originally from Tokyo, is the founder of environmental media project called “If She Can Do It, You Can Too: Empowering Women Through Outdoor Role Models.” By producing videos and films of dynamic outdoor women of color, Miho hopes for girls and women of color to have role models who look, sound and live like them so that they know what outdoor careers, adventures and leadership opportunities are possible.

As a Liv-Cycling supported adventure cyclist, Miho has been taken her award-winning film: The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich’in Women Speak on bicycle film tours since 2014, riding over 3,000 miles across the country. On her tours, in collaboration with the Gwich’in Steering Committee, the Sierra Club and Patagonia, Miho is calling for a permanent protection of Gwich’in people’s sacred land from oil development in the Arctic. She is a featured athlete among the 2019 World’s Most Adventurous Women in Men’s Journal as well as the recipient of 2018 NOLS Alumni Achievement Award and the 2017 SHIFT Adventure Athlete Award. She also serves as a member of Diversify Outdoors and its Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge steering committee.

Grace Anderson fell in love with wild spaces after a week long backpacking trip with the Student Conservation Association in Joshua Tree National Park. Grace enjoys backpacking, climbing and bike touring and is always looking for new adventures. She’s passionate about being outside with folks of color and has the desire to share her skills and resources with people in those communities in hopes of creating a more radically diverse outdoor community. 
As the director of Operations and Strategic Partnerships with PGM ONE, she supports the organizing of people of color who work in the outdoor and environmental sector. The annual PGM ONE summit is an affinity space that attracts 350+ folks of color from around the country (and abroad) working in these fields and has become the largest summit of its nature in the nation.