Dirt Ribbon Lessons


“Mom, do we HAVE to keep going,” eight year old Erik whined. Our little nature walk/hike this day was purely selfish on my part as I’ve been working on post-race recovery. It was good to get out and moving. “Mom, I just really, really, really, really have pains in my legs and I can’t move them anymore. I literally can’t even feel my legs.” He fake sobs this to me as he miraculously jumps over the creek bed soaking his sneakers.

“Yeah, let’s keep going buddy. Almost there”. I keep shuffling along, he follows me begrudgingly, but willingly.

A good amount of leaves had already blanketed the path, and the breeze was dropping more around us as we continued up Strongs Canyon. These are the sweet memories that moms’ envision and they hope their kids imprint into their minds as well. Sometimes though, you wonder if it’s at all worth the hassle and headache.

I’ve mentioned this before, we’re an active family. My boys are constant fireballs of motion. They love biking, skiing, swimming and hiding behind doorways so they can jump out and scare me. Hiking though, still seems like pulling teeth.

With this year’s training and racing season mostly finished in our household, it’s been good to get back to basics with my little guys. Sometimes the ongoing cycles of training, training, taper, race, recovery, recovery seem to log jam spontaneous and creative fun at home. This afternoon, however, we were going to have fun on our hike and that was final! Just kidding.

As Erik was sitting down on the trail unable to “continue on” for the 46th time, a kind older woman hiked from around the corner into our protest zone and began talking to him. Her hiking poles bore the signs of many miles as did her descriptions of the flora and fauna surrounding where he sat. She was well seasoned in local trail history. Erik listened curiously to all sorts of stories and smiled as she talked about the different edible berries on our path. (He looked at me and I shook my head “no” to that snack.) She was so very gracious and genuinely enthusiastic about sharing her love of our mountain trails with him.

Before I knew it, Erik was explaining how speedy of a runner he was. And, just like a flash, he bolted up the hill crunching through the red oak leaves in his way. I only got to speak with this new hiker friend for a minute before waddling up to find my boy. She asked me if I spent a lot of time out here on the trails. I told her, “Yes. I do. I run out here a lot.” She smiled and shared with me how long she had lived nearby and loved sharing her local trail knowledge with people she ran into. I assured her that we were the lucky ones to have met her here and then had to quickly catch up to find my little firecracker.

Erik having a blast playing in the stream.

Erik had made it up to turnaround point in our little hike. The creek bed had smooth flattened stones which he had been skipping into the water while waiting. “Mom, who was that lady talking to me? She was nice. Did you know her from running or something?”

“No, buddy. I’ve never met her before,” sadly realizing that I hadn’t even asked her name.

I’ve thought about this random trail sister a few times over the past week. She could have just passed by us and went on her way. The time she took to share a few minutes of trail knowledge with my son will be something he and I will remember.

Erik in great spirits sprinting down the trail.

As we headed back down the leaf-carpeted trail that beautiful fall afternoon, my Erik would sprint ahead, wait for me, and sprint some more. “Mom, hurry up!” He was having a blast and gave me a hug before our finale race to the car.

Be a good trail sister. Look out for each other. You never know where your help is needed and appreciated.

Tara Warren

Tara Warren

Tara Warren is a mountain runner living in Ogden, Utah with her ultra runner hubby and three crazy boys. She finds freedom running along the dirt ribbons in her area. Running has been a hobby of hers since the early 90’s. In the last two years she has begun to dabble into the trail and ultra running scene. For Tara, it’s not all about being the fastest, but learning more about herself during the journey and having fun in the wilderness.

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1 thought on “Dirt Ribbon Lessons”

  1. Great story and beautiful autumn photos.
    It is good for us all to be reminded of the potential large effect kindness can have on complete strangers.


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