Dirt Road Diary

BearTracks   October 8, 2015   No Comments on Dirt Road Diary

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are dirt.” – John Muir

As the sun goes down on the peak behind me, I can feel the sweat slowly dripping down my face and the gravel in my shoes starting to settle in. I peel my Nike’s off and shake out the dirt that collected in them on my ride. As I go to slide my shoe back on, I notice a ring of dirt around the top of my sock and can’t help but smile. What’s the point of going on adventures if you’re too afraid to get a little dirt between your toes?

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Not only has this past year introduced me to new people, it has also given me a fresh perspective on life. Dirt roads have become so much more than a collection of dust waiting to become the next hit on country radio. To me, they symbolize adventure, excitement and challenge, but most of all, they make me feel more at home than I have ever felt before.

In case you’re teetering on the edge of adventure and just need a little nudge to get you out the door, here are 5 ways dirt roads have changed my life this past year.

  1. They push me beyond my physical limits: The first time I reached the top of a challenging climb on my mountain bike, my quads were burning, sweat was dripping down my forehead into my eyes and my lungs were screaming for more oxygen but rather than wanting to give up, I wanted this feeling to intensify. I wanted to know how far I could push myself before my body gave up. While this is definitely part mental and part physical, I get a high from chasing summits, where there is dirt beneath my hiking boots or bike tires. While I still grumble words of motivation and frustration to myself on the trails, the soreness I feel the next day from using muscles I didn’t even know existed makes it all worth it. This change in outlook allowed me to summit 9 14ers this summer and ride over 100 miles with more than 15,000 ft of elevation gain my first season on a mountain bike. Not bad!

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  1. They provide an outlet for expression: Those of you that know me know that I feel every detail of an experience I go through and being on the dirt trails is no different. These trails have allowed me to reflect on both the joyful and painful events that have happened this year. From death to new life, from reaching goals to coming up short, I have established a deeper sense of self. While I can’t let the trails define me, they have certainly helped shape me into the person I’ve always wanted to be; someone who respects natures for its immense beauty and capability to change lives in an instant. Not to mention, these adventures provide me with plenty of content to write about!
  1. They calm the soul and quiet the mind: Well, not exactly, but let me explain. As a girl, my mind races at 1 million miles an hour all the time but being in nature allows it to slow down and enjoy each moment. When I’m surrounded by mountains and pine forests that stretch for miles, I can forget about the plagues of real life back in the city and focus on enjoying my surroundings. There’s something about breathing in fresh mountain air that allows the mind to escape any worries, if only for a few moments.

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  1. They introduce you to like-minded people (who later become good friends): As my dad and I were hiking Mt. Sneffels last year, we ran into a couple that was doing the same hike. We chatted on the way up and both decided to turn around due to crazy weather and ended up having lunch together in town. After what felt like the obligatory exchange of numbers to send pictures to when we both had service, we went our separate ways. Little did we both know, this was the beginning of a friendship that will last a lifetime. Subsequently, Heather and I became Facebook friends and have hiked 5 14ers together so far! Even though she lives 7 hours away, we stay in touch and sometimes surprise each other with fitness swag (like the time I sent her this awesome Bolder Band for running!).

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  1. They serve as a symbol of humility: Nature has a way of making each individual feel like a small puzzle piece to the universe. We are but one living organism on one planet in a galaxy full of stars. There is nothing more humbling than exploring the vast wilderness, only to realize Mother Nature is in control. At any moment, she could dump rain and cause a canyon to flood, or she could start a wildfire with a spark from the sun while we sit and admire her in awe. To be so small in a world so big, really puts life into perspective.

For me, dirt trails are where I go to escape when I feel the buzz of city life start to weigh me down. The mountains are calling and I can’t press ignore. My sanity and personal growth depend on it.

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*Special thanks to my blogger and IRL friend Heidi for this topic idea. Go check out her blog post on what dirt trails mean to her

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