Portrait of a Trail User

By Nancy Krupiarz, MTGA Executive Director

The world is strikingly different on a trail. The scores of happy, contented faces of young and old will tell you so. When people are out of the confinement of whatever indoor spaces constrict them, there is time to relate to one another, freedom to move with abandon, opportunity for reflection or a window for gazing upon nature’s handiwork. All of these activities soothe a human spirit burdened by every day cares and woes.

Out from behind the glass and steel of our automobiles, we become human to each other again. The joy felt on a trail is impossible to hide. It echoes between souls again and again whether it be through a wave, a smile, or a knowing glance exchanged as if to say, “Yeah, we’re glad we’re here and nowhere else.” And when you see it in another’s countenance, you believe it all the more yourself, and the joy is multiplied.

Without the outrageous chaos of traffic around us, we move freely, letting our mind wander to the peacefulness within. The ever-present caution that dwells inside us on a motorized route dwindles to an occasional check of our surroundings and nothing more. The mind can engage in the simple contentment of moving under one’s own power. After all, what person is not happy when given the space to sort out their cares, count their blessings, or maybe realize it’s great to be alive? Indeed, the problems sorted out on a trail would make a therapist rich!

The windows of our minds open up on a trail and take in nature with almost first-time astonishment. Surrounded by trail-side flora and fauna, one can have the feeling of being deep in the “back forty” rather than just a few blocks away from urban or suburban hustle and bustle.

Sure, it’s sometimes better to take the fastest route, the most direct option when getting from one place to another. But when time permits a more leisurely pace and a chance to sample a trail’s ambience, we’re all that much better for it.


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