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Readers Review: On Trails

On Trails by Robert Moor, A Fresh Take on Paths, Trails, Passes, Roads and Beyond

A blog by: Louie “Crawdad Yankee Doodle” Knolle

When I’m not able to embark on my own treks and travels, one of my favorite ways to take a mental escape is to read about the amazing real life adventures of others. After working in the shop at RRT for two years surrounded by thru-hikers, both accomplished and aspiring, I always found myself drawn to books recounting someone’s trip along the AT, PCT, or one of the myriad of other long trails out there. That being said, On Trails is not your average adventure story, it goes well above and transcends to an exploration of the history and into the multitudinous varieties of trails that are used by all living things. While Moor is in fact a proud member of the Appalachian Trail class of 2009, I appreciated the selection of memories he shares from the trail when he deemed necessary, but his work quickly divulges from the now laundry list of AT memoirs.

He chose to divide the book into 6 main chapters:

• World’s Oldest Fossil Trails (Precambrian)

• Insects’ use of trails to create a sense of collective intelligence in the colony

• Movements of ungulates and other mammals creating their own paths

• Delving into the first human walkers of this continent, he travels with Native Americans learning how they once traversed this continent

• With his own personal stories from the trail, he speaks of the AT and other modern long trails

• The effort to extend the AT into Canada and across to the United Kingdom into the International Appalachian Trail

Through all of these thoughts and explorations, we begin to see the duality that exists along these seemingly simple trails. Despite the sense of freedom we experience on them, trails still have a designated path with boundaries usually existing between two (or more) points. Scientific discovery, animal and faint tracks of early people, the desire to find one’s own sense of freedom in the wilderness, and modernity all intersect in this one book in such a rich way. By the end of the book, Moor reflects after a once purely secular view of nature, that perhaps there is room for civilization in the midst of it all. He cites a great Gary Snyder quote towards the end that reads, “A person with a clear heart and open mind can experience the wilderness anywhere on earth. The planet is a wild place and always will be.”

If you’re interested in some natural history, select tales from the AT, a scoop of entomology, a dash of Darwin and Thoreau, all blended together with provocation of how you travel through the wilds and your place in it, then this is definitely not the book for you. (Only kidding!)

Cincinnati Nature Center

What can we say about this place except that we are extremely lucky to have the Cincinnati Nature Center in our city! Over and over again the CNC leads not just our region, but the entire country in standards for trails, kids programs, play areas, and events.

This has been our stomping ground for trail hikes, nature photography, and conditioning before taking our trips for years now. We LOVE the Cincinnati Nature Center! When inspired by such a place, we feel the calling to give back. Beyond our personal memberships, we have been corporate members of the CNC since 2011 and part of their membership perks program since it began in 2014. This program offers a 10% discount at participating sponsors including RRT when you buy a yearly membership. We have been proud sponsors of Hoots and Hops since its inception in 2013, Back to Nature Fundraising donors and attendees since 2012, and Trail Building Volunteer organizers since 2013.

While being members and corporate members we assure that we are doing our part to help the nature center thrive, while ensuring that we have access to pristine trails and invites to super creative and fun events. Back to Nature is one of these events. This is the premier fundraising event for the CNC, which is why we both attend and often donate to the silent auction, offering anything from kayak expeditions to hiking gear packages.

Lending our time to make other CNC events special like the Hoots and Hops events is what makes RRT unique. This is an amazing event with local food and craft brews. What goes better with that combo than a lounge area amongst the trees? RRT brings hammocks and hanging lounge chairs to let guests just “hang out” in between activities. Claiming that hanging out with nature lovers and drinking beer with them is stewardship is kind of cutting it close though. We’ve started to organize Backpacking workshops along with group hikes in the nature center to raise awareness, membership, and education for the outdoors. The goal is to help make this great organization the best that it can be! Join us for a hike and complete your “Hike For Your Health Passport” with our RRT and CNC co-led hikes.

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RRT is most proud of their leadership in hosting trail building and maintenance volunteer events multiple times a year. We’ve helped cut honeysuckle, correct drainage patterns, fix trail erosion, and strengthen worn trails all while learning proper techniques from a naturalist. The work seems more like play, the people that come out are amazing, and everyone is filled with the satisfaction of volunteering for a cause. If you can make one of our trail building days, I strongly encourage it!

For more information on the Cincinnati Nature Center please visit the link below:

Cincinnati Nature Center

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