Welcome to the Women Outdoors Spotlight Series: a space for women to share their stories, articulate what the outdoors means to them, and encourage other women to say yes to adventure.

This week’s series features Toby Emiohe.

Hi Toby! Thank you so much for being here! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you?

Hello there! My name is Tobhiyah (Toe-bee-yah). I am 32 years old and live north of Atlanta, Georgia.  On Instagram, I go by my childhood nickname, Toby. 

I work in higher education teaching both typical degree-seeking students and college students with special needs. I have been teaching for a little over a year now. I am in my element working at a university.

I get to reconcile my experiences traveling abroad and participating in outdoor sports with my professional work. It benefits students to hear that learning doesn’t exclusively happen in a classroom. 

Even though I am thankful for my profession, I am most appreciative of the life that I have created for myself outside of work.

I get to try new things and experiment with different activities. 

I have been experimenting with photography lately and would like to eventually start writing as well. I have some really neat trips coming up and will use these as opportunities to start collecting images and stories for a blog.

Female hiking Raven Cliffs Falls

Ah, I love what you said about learning not only taking place in the classroom — and that you’ve been able to connect your passion for adventure with your passion for education. Tell us what inspired you to start getting outside.

Seeds were planted throughout my life.

I am originally from West Virginia and spent my childhood summers going to summer camps. I was briefly involved in Girl Scouts but not long enough to remember the troop name or recall my time in the program. 

In college, I spent a summer in Hawai’i with a friend. We did all the outdoorsy things as Hawai’i has every kind of adventure imaginable.

About a year after graduating from college I ended up working at REI. I did not anticipate how this job would plant the seeds for what would fully bloom into passion years after working there.

Working at REI gave me a well-rounded introduction to the outdoors. I was so convinced that this was my calling. So, I moved to Colorado Springs within my first year of working at REI. The move ended up being a mess — I lived in Colorado Springs for 4 months and hiked maybe twice. I was so intimidated to do anything outdoors. I wasn’t confident enough to get out and explore. I got in my own way a lot. 

The defining moment for me happened last fall.

Female hiking in Old Rope Mill Park

For a long time, I felt kind of disconnected from myself. I was trying so hard to be what everyone else wanted me to be. I got to a point where I didn’t feel like I was making any genuine connections with people because I was no longer sure who I was and what I wanted.

This all got me thinking, and all signs pointed to the outdoors. All the experiences I have had my whole life pointed me to this realization.

So many seeds were planted throughout the years that I am just now seeing them bloom into something that has enriched my life beyond words.

It’s so admirable that you were able to recognize that you were standing in your own way, and you decided to take control. What would you say is your favorite way to get outside?

My favorite way to be outside is with friends and hiking.

Oh my goodness, how my heart loves hiking.

I can hike rain or shine, sun or snow, I do not care. I feel so good when I am doing it. I love it even more when I am doing it with kindred souls. 

I never played sports and used to wish I did. The beautiful thing about hiking is that you can start at any age and get really into it. Hiking for me can be a leisure activity or it can be competitive.

While I never forget to soak in the views in nature, oftentimes, I am reminded just how awesome my body is for allowing me to do what I love. I am so much stronger now than I was when I started.

I had done some hiking here and there throughout the years but started going every single weekend just last October. 

Female standing with snowboard at night time

If I lived in a place where we had a proper winter, I think I would really get into winter sports like snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter backpacking.

Anything to get me in the mountains!

I love how much hiking has positively impacted your life, I relate so much. Can you describe your most memorable adventure to date?

My most memorable adventure today is backpacking alone through Cuba.

It was my first solo travel trip and truly my most memorable. I dreamed of traveling to Cuba for as long as I can remember. I originally planned to visit with a friend but ended up going alone. I had no itinerary and only booked the first two nights in a hostel. The rest of the two weeks were up in the air and thankfully so.

I traveled around and stayed in hostels and homes and immersed myself as much as possible with the limited time I had into a whole new world. 

I went horseback riding through the tobacco fields, tasted the infamous Cuban cigar, danced Salsa in the middle on the sidewalk, drank mojitos, and met some really incredible people that I have stayed in touch with.

The crazy thing about this experience is when I first got there, I actually wanted to leave.

No matter how many times I read on blogs that traveling alone in Cuba is perfectly safe, I still thought I made a horrible decision. I did not speak Spanish and I also wasn’t sure how the rest of my trip was going to go considering that I did not make any reservations or have any plans.

However, I learned from traveling this way. It is not backpacking in the sense that I am in the backcountry, but I did live out of a small backpack for two weeks and learned how to trust my discernment and go with the flow.

When I got back to the states from this trip, that is when I seriously considered a move to Colorado. I felt invincible.

The best adventures always begin where the plans stop — these words have never been more true. Do you also have a favorite trail that you’ve hiked?

My favorite hiking experience to date is the Seven Sisters at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

There are many hikes available at the park, varying in length and terrain. However, Seven Sisters was my favorite. I went for the first time last spring during a short visit to Las Vegas and was in awe. 

The trail is spectacular in its beauty. The rock formations are even more beautiful in person.

Female doing yoga pose at Valley of Fire in Nevada

I sat, for an extended moment, and just absorbed the bright red scenery. It is one of those places where you go and thank God that you were able to be there.

You cannot leave that place without being filled with gratitude.

Those are moments that we remember, forever. What is an adventure (or hobby to learn) that is still on your bucket list?

I am itching to get back out West!

I want to go on a National Parks tour through Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. I am happy to throw in other states as well.

Of course, I would love to see Antarctica and Patagonia, but our nation’s parks are magical. I have spent some time out West but not a lot. I can appreciate how far I’ve come with the outdoors, but there is something about getting to experience the “Great Out West” as I like to call it. It’s a rite of passage. 

As for a new hobby, when the weather warms up, I plan to revisit two hobbies I experimented with years ago in Colorado: cycling and rollerblading.

Hopefully, my Peloton workouts are shaping me up for some cycling tours I am planning to take this summer. If rollerblading goes well, I would love to try out for the Atlanta Roller Derby. A girl can dream!

Heck yes, a girl can dream and we are all rooting for you! What piece of advice would you give to women who are looking to break into the outdoor space?

Adventure looks different for every person.

Your goals for getting outside should be yours and yours only. It is easy to see how everyone else is adventuring and feel pressure to conform to other people’s expectations. The problem with this is that you will waste so much time doing things you do not want to do and working towards goals that are not yours.

Female looking at Hawaii view

Something else I wish I would have known prior to all of this is knowing what my limits are and when it is acceptable for me to push them. Know your limits and respect them.

If you are concerned that you are inexperienced and do not know what you are doing, remember we have all felt that way too.

My friend told me that practice does not make perfect, it makes “better.” Perfection should never be the goal. Have fun and enjoy the process. 

Lastly, there is no “look” to being outdoorsy.

This advice is absolutely perfect. Thank you! Tell the readers where they can connect with you further and continue to follow along with your adventures.

The fun is just getting started and I would love to connect with you all! You can find me on Instagram at @OutsideofthePerimeter.  Blog soon to come!

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