I could go on and on about the things I don’t believe in…but I tend to be a bit cynical so I’d probably come off as a terrible person if I did that. Instead, I’m going to wax poetically about something I really do believe in. Trail Karma. She is real, I promise!

First, what is Trail Karma? Trail Karma actually a she, a trail pixie who controls the success and quality of the time you spend on or near trails. If you’re in her good graces the trails will be amazing and you’ll be thankful for frozen toes, scuffed knees and sunburn. If you’ve done something to piss her off…well, then good luck with life!

Trail Karma won’t make every run ice-free, sunny and glorious. Nope, not at all. She wants you to grow and improve as a runner so you need to face adversity on the trails and prove to her, yourself and the world that you can survive. Trail Karma will never be responsible for making your run a colorful mess of unicorns, rainbows and glitter, that’s not how she rolls.

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She’ll stand back and let Mother Nature pour rain onto muddy trails, freeze your eyelashes together and bake you in relentless sunshine…that’s how you improve as a runner and person, by surviving the misery. However, Trail Karma will be by your side as your struggle through a run, offering up encouragement…if you allow yourself to see it and accept it.

When the sun it miserably hot and your water is low Trail Karma will be sure random rabbits entertain you from the side of the trail. On a wet, rainy run Trail Karma will compromise with Mother Nature to get you a stunning rainbow. During a cold trek along boring trails Trail Karma may cajole a few birds to chirp you a song from the bushes. Trail Karma is all about the little things that make being out there in the elements worth it. Of course, if you’re on her bad side you’re just plain screwed, there will be no random bits of hope and you’ll be completely on your own to face reality. Good luck with that…

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Now, for the important information – how to the heck do you stay in the good graces of a potentially made-up trail pixie like Trail Karma? Basically, you reign in your evil ways and put on your “good girl” panties before you hit the trails. Be a responsible trail user and use a little common courtesy. I realize that is a lot to ask for from some people, and that’s why not everyone has been blessed with a pixie hug from Trail Karma…change is hard and some people just like being miserable. I can’t help you there. But if you want to experience the good side of Trail Karma you should do a few [or all!] of these things the next time your on a trail:

      • Be nice to other trail users – regardless of what the signs say, yield to mountain bikers struggling to come up a steep, rocky climb.
      • Share the trails…with friends + strangers! If someone is asking about trails and you have time, go explore with them! Go running, or hiking, or whatever-ing! Watching someone else experience what you love gives you a new perspective on familiar trails!
      • Take the time to say “hello” to strangers you see on the trail – not only can you brighten their day but if they are there to murder you you’ll at least have established a little rapport and maybe changed their mind with your smile.
      • If someone asks for directions…give them accurate information or just admit you’re lost too! If you have a map, share it!
      • Pick up litter! Unless it’s a cast iron stove or old Model T car [saw those on the Whole Enchilada trail in Moab] you can spare a few seconds to pick up a granola bar wrapper or broken bike reflector.
      • Hang gloves, mittens and other light gear on the trees or shrubs near where you found them – there is a good chance their owner will be returning down the trail and be elated to find their layers!
      • If you find a more valuable item [like a wallet!] take it with you, but leave a note at the trailhead that you found it and have taken it to the local authorities…and that you’ve left ALL the cash in it!

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Basically…be the person you’d like to meet on the trails! Be friendly, be kind and be a responsible adult! It is not always easy, especially when you’re tired and hungry and fighting to get into “the zone” but in the end it’s worth it! Spending a few seconds being nice and Trail Karma [or really…whatever you want to believe in] will reward you! Having a frazzled mother offer up a heartfelt “thank you” after you’ve rescued a lost glove for one of her wandering toddlers can give your run purpose again. It’s worth the 0:01/mile you lose on your pace, I promise.

[side note: do not judge my metaphors and crazy thoughts…I do not even pretend to be sane prior to a healthy dose of coffee. #myexcuse]


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