When Al and I quit our cushy government jobs to move to Laramie to write trail guides a lot of people thought we were completely crazy.
I guess it’s time to confess.
Yes, we are completely crazy.
Who else in their right mind would move to a little town like Laramie, Wyoming and try to write trail guides for a living?
Clearly a few people without the ability to think logically.
In the past four years, Just Trails has grown from a crazy handwritten idea in a notebook to something that we’re proud of…a real small business that hasn’t failed (yet).
We’ve hiked thousands of miles, we’ve written thousands of words, we’ve mapped hundreds of miles of trails, we’ve had our ‘ups’ and we’ve had our ‘downs.’
We’ve earned money, we’ve lost money, we’ve learned along the way.
We’ve developed relationships with big mega retailers, and then watched them fizzle and die.
We’ve gained fans and followers. We’ve lost fans and followers.
We’ve written terrible blog posts and done embarrassingly pathetic gear reviews.
We’ve learned every inch of our favorite local trails. We’ve (okay, me) gotten hiking groups lost and then found again.
We’ve made a lot of bad decisions and big mistakes.
90% of our ideas have turned out to be terrible ideas but throughout all of this, we’ve let our mantra guide our work.
Let Us Help You Explore.
It seems so simple, right.
But we try to live and breathe by these 5 words in everything we do.
This spring we thought we had turned a corner with Just Trails.
We had a glimmer of hope that we’d be able to press on and keep doing what we love.
We had a plan to grow and expand, a plan to expand our outdoor education offerings and for the first time in years we were totally excited about the prospects of growth.
And then something happened.
Last Sunday afternoon we were psyched to be at the Elevation 8076′ Celebration in Centennial.
We set up our tent, pulled out our trail decks, t-shirts and other merchandise and sat waiting to talk to people about our local trails.
But we didn’t see a lot of foot traffic and eventually dark clouds caused us to throw our products in the truck as fast as we could just before a gust of wind sent our event tent flying over two cars and down a parking lot.
As Al & I were trying to recover what was left of our tent it started hailing.
Meanwhile, a few awesome people were helping us deal with our tent, which was like a parachute in the storm and stash rain-soaked products and tables in our truck.
After several minutes of chaos Al & I sat, soaked and chilled to the bone in the truck.
I was on the verge of tears.
Al looked at me and said, “Is all of this worth it?”
I didn’t reply out loud but in my head I thought…
“Maybe we should just shut it down, maybe the universe it trying to tell us that Just Trails never was a very good idea. Whenever we get ahead and start to make a buck or two something like this always happens.”
We were in a bad place.
We were just 16 hours away from setting up for Freedom Has A Birthday.
Our expensive tent had two broken legs and was completely inoperable and all of our booth set-up was either destroyed beyond repair or soaking wet.
Could the show go on?
Would the show go on?
Or should we just call it a day, shut down the website and remember it fondly?
We knew that we had to try to make an appearance at Freedom Has A Birthday, after all we had already paid the vendor fee.
So we rallied, changed out of our wet clothes, unloaded our wrecked set-up in the garage to dry, headed to Walmart and replaced our beloved expensive tent with the second-to-last tent in the store.
The best Walmart experience on my life.
And just like that we were back in business.
Monday morning found is in better spirits at Washington Park setting up for Freedom Has A Birthday and something amazing happened.
— Just Trails (@JustTrails) July 3, 2016
People stopped by our booth to tell us that they like our Trail Deck.
They stopped by to tell us that they love our website.
They stopped by to chat about hiking.
They stopped by to ask about Little Laramie Hikers.
Some Hike Like A Woman fans even stopped by!
They stopped by to tell us that they loved taking our Map & Compass and GPS classes.
They stopped by just because they’ve been reading the blog and wanted to say “hi” to us in person.
It was an amazing day.
And these were the most amazing socks we saw all day (thanks DuG)!
We didn’t sell a record number of Trail Deck’s.
We didn’t sell out of Medicine Bow Peak t-shirts, or #takeahike swag.
But somehow, those dark clouds that were following us around the day before disappeared.
We recovered from what was one of the worst days in the history of Just Trails and by doing so we realized that we’re not going anywhere.
We’re here to stay.
Because you know what?
At the end of the day it isn’t about being able to earn a living selling trail guides.
No, that’s what our other jobs are for.
We’re about helping, inspiring, encouraging and motivating others to find their trail.
To get outdoors,
And to explore.
If we help just one person do that then we are doing exactly the right thing.
So thank you, our loyal readers and customers for helping us turn it around and reminding us why we do what we do in the first place.
You have no idea what it means to us to hear you say that you love our products and our website.
It means a lot.
So thank you, we mean it. Thank you so much.
“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
And if you’re one of the one’s who helped us recover from the fiasco in Centennial we’re totally hooking you up with a virtual hug. Thanks SO much! We promise to pay it forward.