Tik Root | National Geographic | Cinematography: Paul Rosenfeld
Ollie Simmons first met Kieonne Dawson on the uphill leg of California’s Mission Peak trail. “She was looking kind of nervous because the route was so steep,” he remembered of the wet and dreary trek a few years back. Striking up a conversation, the two exchanged numbers, kept in touch and were soon dating.
Mountaintop love stories are rare. And, for a black couple, they’re practically unheard of. While the National Park Service (NPS) turned 100 last year, African Americans still represent only about seven percent of park visitors. In comparison, they make up thirteen percent of the national population. Latinos, Native Americans, and other non-white visitors are similarly underrepresented. The rest—some 78 percent—are white.