Outdoors club brings back Mt. Baldy hike with emphasis on inclusivity

Kaeley Stout SC ’20 and Makeda Bullock Floyd PO ’22 celebrate while climbing up Mt. Baldy during the On The Loose Pizza Hike Sept. 22. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Snyder)

Eighty-six students from the Claremont Colleges climbed nearly 4,000 feet to the top of Mt. Baldy for Pizza Hike last weekend, according to On The Loose club leader Maddie Zug PO ’19. The event, organized by OTL, the 5C outdoors club, included a strenuous 11-mile hike followed by a pizza dinner when students returned to campus.

The trip was a replacement for the former OTL Speedo Hike, which was cancelled in 2016.

“By having the Speedo Hike as our official welcome event each year, we unintentionally sent the message that to participate in OTL, you must be fit and comfortable with your body image,” the club wrote in a statement released in 2016. The club also cited safety concerns for the hike’s cancellation, as the 2015 trip ended with several hikers momentarily stranded at the trailhead.

On The Loose, the outdoors club of the Claremont Colleges, hosted its inaugural hike Saturday, Sept. 22. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Snyder)

This year, OTL changed the dress code, inviting hikers to wear “goofy” clothing instead, according to the event description. Students took to the trail in a range of outfits, from speedos to yoga pants and sports bras to t-shirts. For the most part, hikers wore a variety of brightly colored outfits and printed work-out gear, a few even going so far as to wear wigs and capes.

The club also took safety concerns seriously, with periodic group water breaks and loud chants encouraging hikers to hydrate. Leaders covered the front and tail ends of the group, ensuring that hikers could climb at their own pace without fear of losing the group.

The decision to bring back the costume-clad trek to Mt. Baldy’s summit was led by OTL leaders Jeremy Snyder PO ’19, Sabine Scott PO ’19, and Zug, who all took part in the Speedo Hike as first-years.

Hikers from the 5Cs climb Mt. Baldy during the On The Loose Pizza Hike Sept. 22. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Snyder)

“I met [my] closest friends to this day –– or at least most of them –– on that trip,” said Snyder, who was vocally opposed to the hike’s cancellation.

When planning the Pizza Hike, Snyder said he and the other organizers put a lot of focus on ensuring that hikers were comfortable coming in whatever outfits they wanted.

“The spirit of the event and the things that made it so amazing for us were not linked to the speedos,” Snyder said.

In an email to OTL leaders the day before the hike, Zug wrote, “[W]e are trying to be intentional about keeping the good things about that tradition (OTL excitement, getting outside, making new friends) and [getting] rid of the bad things (exclusionary vibes, disorganization, bad risk management).”

OTL’s efforts seemed to pay off. Several students said they enjoyed the off-campus trip.

Hikers on their way down Mt. Baldy via the Devil’s Backbone Trail. (Samuel Breslow • The Student Life)

“The Pizza Hike pushed me out of my comfort zone through both the physical and social factors it presented, providing the most rewarding experience I’ve had all year on campus,” Danny Debare PO ’22 said.

Hikers enjoying their arrival at the summit of Mt. Baldy. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Snyder)

Moira Mulhern SC ’21, who signed up for the trip on a whim, echoed Debare’s sentiment.

“It was my first OTL trip, and I really enjoyed it; the hike itself was definitely strenuous, but summiting was such a gratifying feeling,” Mulhern said. “I felt a sense of satisfaction that I accomplished [the hike] and [was] amazed that my body [could] carry me so far and do so many things for me.”

Snyder said he hoped Pizza Hike would send out the message that “OTL welcomes everybody to come and enjoy the outdoors together and that [the Pizza Hike] is kind of a bastion for all that is weird and funky and fun on campus.”

A panoramic view at the top of Mount Baldy. (Samuel Breslow • The Student Life)

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