Leave the Right Trace

Whispering Pines Nature Trail at Tyler State Park – Photo by the author

I’ve been wondering, lately, what I’ll leave behind. What mark will I make on the world? Not that I’m planning to kick off anytime soon, but recent events have certainly brought that to mind. When you have to gear up for a Target run like you’re preparing for the apocalypse, it brings home the certainty of your own mortality.

Mushroom Along the Trail – Photo by Andrew Shaw

Andrew and I have determined the safest space for us is outdoors. We might encounter a snake, have to brush off a tick, or bring home a rash from poison ivy, but there’s little risk of inhaling a deadly virus, as long as we keep our distance from our fellow hikers. There’s plenty of room for all outside.

Loblolly Pines at Tyler State Park Photo by the author

We traveled down Interstate 20, to Tyler State Park. As we grew closer to our destination, the earth beside the highway changed from the blackland prairie soil to the red clay dirt of East Texas.

Hiking Trail at Tyler State ParkPhoto by the author

Like many of our beautiful national and state parks, Tyler State Park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression. Andrew and I hiked along a trail and climbed steps laid into the ground over eighty years ago.

Steps and Waterfall Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938Photo by the author

Outdoor etiquette instructs us to be careful, to leave no trace when we hike. Our footprints on the trail, stamped into the dust, will be swept aside by the next traveler. We take nothing but peace from the space. As we trekked along, under a canopy of green, I thought what a wonderful trace the young men of the CCC had left behind.

Whispering Pines Nature Trail at Tyler State ParkPhoto by the author

How fortunate our land had Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president during that trying time. When FDR established the Civilian Conservation Corps, he created hope and opportunity, not just for the men who would lend their labor to creating a legacy that would live on past their lifetimes, but for all who would visit the parks in decades to come. The challenge then, for each of us, will be to examine our steps and determine what trace our actions will leave for future generations.

Tyler State Park, Tyler, Texas – Photo by the author


4 thoughts on “Leave the Right Trace

  1. It was very peaceful. We encountered just five people on the trails. Most people were down by the lake, swimming and fishing. Our state parks have a capacity limit and you have to reserve a day pass ahead of time. It helps with social distancing for sure, and it actually makes a trip to the parks a pleasant outing not having to fight crowds. I bought a park pass and we plan on hitting many more parks this fall. I hope you are doing well and staying as safe as possible. I think often of folks like you, who must be out in the front lines in the health care professions.


  2. Keep walking and you might encounter the trial I’m on. It’s just a little bit farther on. I’ve been thinking about ways to leave an impression without leaving an eyesore, and I bet reading your observations will give me some ideas. Thanks


    1. Thanks for commenting and reading. We haven’t gotten out and about as much as we’d like this past year. Keep enjoying nature and walking those trails!


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