What Inspires You to Care for Trails?
Caring for trails and wild places for the next generation is important, but why wait? Let's care for those places right now and enjoy them now, too.
My first steps on a trail were taken when I could barely walk, in the company of my parents. They loved hiking and camping, cherished time spent in nature. And they extended that feeling along to me with an easy grace, an incidental education about the value of public lands and my place in protecting them. I have no idea if they were trying to raise an activist, but they did.
When I think back to that awakening of purpose, I wasn’t motivated by thoughts of my future kids or grandkids spending time on trails. I was just psyched to spend time in the wilderness, inspired to learn everything I could about it and give back to it when I could. My passion for trails has been seasoned and deepened by the idea that my work today, my small contributions to our greater community, could have far-reaching consequences. It’s been enriched by all the stories of others who enjoy our lands and lives transformed by trails. But the truth is that nothing inspires me to action more than just time on trail and the memories I’ve made there.
I want to hike, and so I care for trails. Taking action doesn’t have to be some far-off, lofty goal—it can be as simple as writing a trip report, sending an email to my representatives or taking a friend hiking for the first time. The truth is that it is the small, everyday actions of advocates, land managers, trail volunteers, members and hikers who tip the balance between a trail existing or disappearing forever.
Time, money, muscle, mobility—as they wax and wane throughout our lives, so do our needs for different kinds of trail experiences. Sometimes I want to hike with friends who have toddlers. Occasionally my soul needs a week in the deep backcountry. Those are things I want now, in my lifetime. If they happen to benefit generations in the future, I will be proud of the legacy I’ve left. But I don’t want to wait.
This article originally appeared in the Mar+Apr 2017 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.