I am thrilled to be partnering with REI on their #everytrailconnects project. Talking about trails and what they mean to me? Yeah, sign me up! Thanks to the good folks at REI for this opportunity!
I was several hours into my ride over Rollins Pass when I realized how far I was from where I started.
I wasn’t thinking about the miles I had ridden, the feet I had climbed, or the fact that I was halfway over a freaking mountain en route to a town on the other side of the Continental Divide.
I was thinking about how far I had come since I first stepped foot on a trail.
I was somewhat of a late bloomer in the outdoor world, if you consider being a freshman in college as being “late”. I had always loved the outdoors and always been a tomboy but it wasn’t until the ripe old age of 18 that I fell in love with skinny strips of dirt and the rush that you get from facing your fears.
As with many outdoorsy women of my generation, it was a boy that got me out on the trail. He was a mountain biker and I was smitten. I was also scared. As we cruised the easy riverside trails near my university town, tears welled in my eyes and my arms shook with fear. It was the easiest, least threatening mountain bike ride imaginable … and I was terrified.
A lot has changed since then. I lost the boyfriend, kept the bike, and got way more comfortable in the outdoors. And I owe it all to time spent on the trail.
Trails have been a path to freedom and a way to push my limits. They have taught me patience, perseverance, and self-reliance. They turned a little girl that was afraid of everything into a woman that has no qualms about setting out by herself on long backcountry adventures with nary another human in sight.
The adventures have gotten bigger since those early days and the trails have gotten harder, higher, and infinitely longer. The obstacles that once made me quake with fear go unnoticed and new challenges present themselves. It is on narrow ribbons of rock and dirt that I have learned how strong I am and how brave I can be. The trails have taught me to focus on what I’m doing, to not look down, and to never look back.
Few things bring about personal growth like a heaping dose of discomfort and my days on the trails have provided it in spades. The experiences I have had – the joy, fear, pain, elation – have been the catalysts that made me who I am today.
I don’t have it all figured out, and sometimes I still stumble and shake, but it happens less often now and in places that I’d never have imagined I’d be. And I owe it all to time spent on tiny slivers of dirt.
Have trails made a difference in your life? I want to hear about it! Leave me a comment below and let me know what trails mean to you.
This post was created in partnership with and sponsored by REI.