Written by Larissa Fransen
Photos by Jeremy Long
In a disappointing political climate where name calling, divisiveness and snitty commentary is becoming the norm, we should strive to be better. We can be better.
On May 22nd Outside Magazine published an article online titled “Trail Runners are Lazy Parasites.” Author Marc Peruzzi went on to refer to trail runners as “deadbeats” and made fun of the clothing, gear, and culture surrounding our community. The bottom line of his article is that we need to put in more volunteer hours on the trails we use. And he is 100% correct. The problem is that the tone and language of the piece was flagrant and perhaps created a divide between multiple groups of outdoor users. Outside Magazine can do better.
We see more and more of this type of language among politicians, on news shows, and on social media. It sends different groups of people to the extremes. This can't be accepted. Yes, we need to speak out against the things that we feel should be changed but remember, there is a better way than using slander.
We all have a choice on what kind of voice we want to use and for the sake of our humanity we hope it is not a destructive one.
The outdoor community can be using its voice to educate and create an inclusive platform for all to enjoy the natural beauty around us. This applies to all of us but even more so to those with a wider audience and the ability to impact a greater population of outdoor users.
A voice with a large subscriber base can be setting an example for others to follow; by publishing articles based on fact with resources to support the thesis, and a call to action through supportive and pro-active initiatives that inspire readers to become more involved in the longevity of their respective outdoor communities.
Change doesn’t happen through shame or putting someone down. Change happens through honest conversation, education and encouragement.
Trail work is one of the most important activities outdoor users can get involved in, and there are volunteer work opportunities for all ages and abilities. It consists of a variety of tasks including cutting back overgrowth, restoring tread, maintaining water flow and drainage, building retaining walls and bridges, cleaning up after natural disasters and storms, and even creating all new trail systems. You can give back with regular maintenance of your most frequented trails, including picking up trash and removing debris from the paths. Trail work events are a great way to meet new people in your area, learn more about the ecosystems and wildlife, and gain a broader appreciation for our abilities to use these outdoor spaces.
We can all get more involved in our local trail systems and making it a routine part of our outdoor activities.
Let's do better.
Here are some links to trail volunteer opportunities in some widely used trail systems nationwide, and a quick Google search will lead you to information on trail work in your area.
Feel free to use the comments section below to share links to volunteer opportunities near you, perhaps there are others reading that can link up and join you on your next trail work day.
Forest Park Conservancy, Portland Oregon:
Washington Trail Association:
Pacific Crest Trail Association:
Appalachian Trail Conservancy:
Marin County Parks, California:
The Colorado Trail Foundation:
Idaho Trails Association:
Utah State Parks: