Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 15, 2015

Take a Dirt Path

Those of us who love the outdoors owe a debt of gratitude to conservationists of years gone by — visionary individuals who worked to protect our natural heritage. John Muir is regarded as our nation’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist. He inspired the people of his time to experience and to protect what later became some of our country’s largest national parks.

Muir played a key role in the creation of Yosemite, Sequoia, Mount Rainier, Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon National Parks. And, in 1892, he and other supporters formed the Sierra Club and served as the organization’s first president until his death in 1914. Today, the Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

John Muir inspired others to experience the outdoors not only through his example but through his writings. He reminded a generation that we are to be good stewards of the planet. “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods” wrote Muir. “But he cannot save them from fools.” Well said. Muir understood that our stewardship of the environment will indeed impact future generations.

Muir Quote
Muir lived outdoors and walked who knows how many thousands of miles of land that is now part of our national park system. Muir’s meanderings inspired him to write what has become a favorite quote: “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” There is something of great value in taking the time to travel down dirt paths.

Most people will live a lifetime without ever walking down a dirt path. I recently listened to a report on NPR that said there is now so much concrete in Houston that in years to come it will keep temperatures hotter in the Bayou City. All the more reason to escape our urban sprawl and venture down a dirt path in one of the many parks located within easy driving distance.

Band of Brothers Hike
There is something therapeutic about taking a dirt path. Last year I wrote a blog post entitled Nature Deficit Disorder about how some doctors are prescribing outdoor activities to patients to help them combat everything from obesity, diabetes, and asthma to stress, depression, and anxiety. New research is showing that exposure to natural environments actually improves physical and emotional health. I believe it. I always feel better in every way after a good long trek through the woods.

As you plan your summer activities, make sure to schedule some time to walk down a dirt path. When you do so make sure that you walk slowly, listen carefully, observe intentionally, and breathe deeply. Take my word for it, the walk will do you a lot of good — probably more than you may realize.


  1. Great advice, Omar!

  2. Sitting here in my office catching up on emails – and by the date of this post you can see how behind I am. But I never skip your blog posts and the picture in this one brought back memories of a great few days and a beautiful hike with some beautiful people!

    God Bless,


    • Thanks, Chad. I absolutely loved our hike in Idaho. Thanks for coordinating all of the details for our visit with you and for the great shared adventure we enjoyed.

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