From dust to tribe . . .

Dust and Tribe (D&T) is the experience of growth through adventure.

Our quarterly excursions are opportunities for men and women to push through the boundaries of supposed mental and physical limits into a new awareness of what we can be when we support one another.

It is where we discover what we are (dust) and what we become together (tribe).

Winter 2019: D&T Grind

On January 24th, 2019, nine men and nine women will head into
the mountains of Santa Cruz for three days and thirty miles of cold and grit. This is their story.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Introductions and Intentions

You're not right.

There is most definitely something wrong with you.

People don't do this. Backpacking in the winter? In the cold? In the rain?

You can't possibly have friends. Where are your parents? Are you really so unloved as that?

But why is she even reaching for that swing? And why is her belt on so tight? Does she have a thumb?

Mysteries. Like those locked away in your shriveled, broken hearts.

We've never done this. We've never pulled together men AND women for a trip. We've never facilitated a winter adventure. We've never had more than one facilitator. This is just an absolute train wreck of pioneering madness.

And you're a part of it. Voluntarily. Actually, you're paying money to do this.

So I asked you why. And you know what?

Turns out you're not crazy. A bit different, yes, but with generally passable social skills.

Take Brother Muaz, the first to respond to my query:
1. Reset my circadian rhythm
2. Get in touch with the earth
3. Ground myself
4. Create a better appreciation for the world around us
5. Meet quality people
6. Get outside the office!
Look at that! He wants to meet quality people and learn to appreciate the things around him! Not the cold, black-hearted fiend I imagined him to be!

Then Brother Christian piped up:
1. To meet all of those in this thread. I’ve heard great things about you all and I love to follow the Dust and Tribe Instagram account. Says a lot if you’re willing to tackle a trail like this!

2. Hike the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. Have been meaning to hike this trail since I first learned about it last year.

3. Learn more about the Muslim faith. My name says it all and I look forward to some of the conversations we’ll have as well as learn about some of the different practices and disciplines that bring you into a closer relationship with God.
My man opened up with a social media reference and ended on an existential note. That's like the entire gamut of human experience in three bullet points! I suspect this could be the "quality" person Brother Muaz was looking for.

Brother Christian is rolling out with Sister Kawtar who probably would have had something to say about why she's doing this, except that I forgot to ask her. I did share a meal with her once. She was wearing a hoodie. We went to Halal Guys.

Sister Syma is a D&T veteran, having survived three days on an island back in 2016. She's got what it takes to bag our January adventure, but why bother?
I’ll share that since I’ve been a mom it’s only specially carved out time that I get to be alone with myself and mentally refresh and recharge.
I don't really want to be the one to break this to her, but, well . . . she won't actually be alone. There will be like 17 of us TOTALLY cutting into her mommy alone time.

Sister Amira was on that island with Sister Syma and we are beyond thrilled to have her join us in Santa Cruz, insha Allah. Nursed by wolves, reared by hamsters, and educated by mastodons, she had this to say:
I’m looking forward to this trip as an opportunity to connect with you all, do a bit of self reflection, and enjoy some fresh air.
That. Is. Insane.

Perhaps not as insane as our Libyan Hustler, Sister Jumana:
I am truly looking forward to minutes spent treasuring nature, acts of self determination and basically making a rerun of Survival of the Fittest. I fell in love with challenging myself the past couple of years and I’m currently training for a marathon in the beginning of 2019. What I’m looking forward to in this trip is to recharge myself with all that good energy that nature has to offer as a foundation for the year to come, God willing.
True story. I ran the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail as an ultramarathon back in 2013. I talk about that here.

It is an honor and a privilege to be co-facilitating this adventure with Sister Sama. Actually, this whole trip is just an excuse to hang out with her in the woods because whenever she's in the wilderness REALLY DOPE STUFF HAPPENS. I would guarantee that, but our legal department isn't having it.

Here's why she's joining us:
I'm very much excited to be a part of this adventure. I'm looking forward to the groundedness, serenity, and that feeling of bonding that comes from overcoming challenges together and getting to know you all better. I'm looking forward to also getting to know new plants and possibly getting to see new animals and bugs I may have never encountered before.
She's totally coming for the bugs.

Sister Wanda doesn't even have PayPal and she still found away to join us! Clearly a problem solver (and another D&T veteran), she had this to say about the trip:
Sometimes with a busy schedule in life and so many things going on, it's good to go camping, be in the outdoors and explore. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone, insha Allah.
There you go. It's good to go camping. So sayeth Sister Wanda.

Brother Omar and Sister Randa thought they might also tag along. Brother Omar shared this:
It will be Randa’s first experience in the backcountry and she would like to learn the basics. For me I would like to disconnect and enjoy the outdoors. I have been on two backcountry trips with Zaytuna, five days at Penner Lake and three days in Yosemite.
Honestly, I'm not a 100% certain Brother Omar even talked to Sister Randa about this, but they can totally sort it out on the trail.

There are others joining us. They've been quiet so far.

There are Brothers Fazeel and Waqar. They were with me in Death Valley this past October. Good men.

There is Brother Farukhi about whom I really and truly know nothing.

Brother Farukhi

There is Ustadha Lobna and Sheikh Suhail, pillars of our community and stewards of the wild within and without.

There is Sister Aisha. She's flying in from Pennsylvania. I thought that was pretty cool, so I went ahead and married her.

Then there's Brother Youssef, who I totally would have married, but he never responds to email.

Intentions are important. Most of us have offered a personal intention. As important as that is, we are making this journey as a band. And so we offer a collective intention:

We wish to gather together, in the Name of our Creator, our Provider, and our Sustainer, in gratitude to Him, in reverence for Him, and in pursuit of Him. We wish to acquire all knowledge that will make firm our gratitude, reverence, and patient seeking. We wish to deepen our relationship with all of creation, God's plants, animals, and heavenly ornaments, that we may be drawn into a realized understanding of His Might and His Mercy. We wish to be transformed by this experience, entirely for the better. We further ask that God Most High expand us, that we might graciously accept all that He desires for us.

We've got lots more to talk about. Maps and food and gear and conditioning and weather and just A WHOLE LOT. Stay tuned. Or if you're the jumpy sort, message me with your questions. I won't judge, but I might hang out with someone who isn't you. At least sometimes.

Share your thoughts in the comments below. This is your story. Make sure you're heard!

I'm excited!!!!


  1. This is awesome! Thanks for putting this together! I didn't know you ran ultra-marathons?!?! Definitely have to talk more about this. Also I know Sister Sama and Christian will be SO excited about bugs! :) Excited for this trip.

    1. Let me correct you, Kawtar! I RAN an ultramarathon. Past tense :)

      I was 38 with no real running experience. I gave myself six months to train and ran Skyline in about 7 hours and 45 minutes. No records were broken, but that experience remains a touchstone, forever reminding me of the power of intention and commitment.

  2. Maaan! That’s all it took :) I should have bought that ticket sooner ؛) I am super excited and began to take the stairs 8 floors twice to begin conditioning. Everyone, what are you doing to get ready?

    Super excited!!

  3. Mash'Allah Ahmed! 7 hours, 45 minutes for 29 miles thru the mountains is Amazing!!!
    I ran a marathon (26 miles) in 7 hours approx and felt good about it, not anymore... :(

    1. You finished what you started, brother. Don't ever stop feeling good about that <3