I have been on for four months now and the time has flown by! I want to thank each of you for making me feel so welcome in my new position. Most of all, I would like to thank Skye Ridley, former Executive Director, for all of her assistance in helping me make the transition as smooth as possible. She did great work for American Trails and we are pleased she has agreed to stay involved with American Trails as an Advisory Board member. And, I hope you will agree, we have some exciting changes taking place in our organization (see Page 1).
We know that trails provide both tangible and intangible benefits. One of my favorûite pastimes is to study how trails have been used historically--for pilgrimages. I see our current use of trails as individual pilgrimages. Our pilgrimages expand our everyday experiences, lead us closer to nature, make us more healthy, bring our families and friends closer together, and feed our spirits.
I am, as others I know, guilty of sitting behind my desk most of the time. I know expert trail builders--who only build trails; exceptional trail planners--who only plan trails; trail user groups--who never experience other uses; and trail advocates--who only lobby. We know we are doing important work, but often are so focused in our own work or our own user experience that we don't existentially understand the benefits trails provide. I would challenge each of you to "stop and breathe in the beauty of the trail."
Recently my husband and I took a pilgrimage to northern California. We visited the unforgettable 1000 year-old redwoods. While walking along their scented trails, we experienced perfect peace and calm as they embraced us with their presence. Words don't even come close...
Twenty years ago, I lived beside 14,000 foot Mt Shasta's majesty and grandeur. I have never forgotten the pristine beauty of "her" spectacular beauty and grace, wildflower-carpeted meadows, ice-cold glacial springs, and never-ending, swirling cloud formations. "She" was a part of my life. It was very important for me to see her again and to share this part of me and my earlier life with my husband. My walks along her splendid, ever-changing colors, smells, and immensity felt just the same, yet there was the excitement of new sights and adventures around every turn. The moon rose over her sacred shoulder in the evening, providing more delight. I could hardly take my eyes off of her.
I'm sure you have a favorite "sacred" place in your heart and memories that live on within. I can't fully explain it--but I came back to the office rejuvenated, peaceful, and better able to live my life and to do my job. I was reminded of how important our work is. Often during the day, I just stop and breathe in my memories. She is still with me...
Oh yes, Why trails? ...I know why. I hope you will join American Trails in our mission to provide trails (pilgrimage opportunities) for all Americans and our visitors from around the world. I think this is one thing we all have in common--the interest in experiencing adventure and beauty. Thank you for all you do for trails and the people who use them -- please know your work is important and adds quality and wonder to life!
--Pam Gluck, Executive Director, AMERICAN TRAILS