Galeo Saintz chats to the founder of Love Our Trails about all things important — like amazing trails.
Blake Dyason is a young South African passionate about building a better future for all, working towards a world of equality, respect and sustainability. Blake founded Love Our Trails in 2015, which is focussed on connecting people to our environment. Blake is also Co-founder of Brownie Points, a social impact startup. Blake is an outdoor enthusiast and adventurer at heart.
Galeo: Welcome Blake. To kick off, let’s start with a simple question that challenges us all: how do you juggle trails, life and travel given your busy schedule as an impact entrepreneur, outdoors guy and businessman?
Blake: A few years ago I used to work in one mind-space and try live in another. I found it hard to be true to myself. I had to wear a suit and be this formal business person, on the other hand I wanted to wear slops and walk on the beach or with trail shoes go climb a mountain.
I realised that my clients in the business world were more interested when I had meetings with them that included my passion for the outdoors. People are just people, people buy from people and people connect with people. So where we meet is not important.
I realised I needed to be true to me — so no juggling, it became more about combining it all and doing it all in an honest way. I discovered I could take my clients on a hike for a meeting instead of being in the office. It changed my life — combining my work with my passions in a practical way.
Galeo: What in a nutshell does it mean to really live for you?
Blake: I have thought about this a lot. I believe I have only one purpose in this world, and that is to love and do the best I can in loving, across nature, trails, work and family.
Galeo: Talk to us a little about your project Love Our Trails.
Blake: Years ago I took a close friend up the Table Mountain who was visiting from Johannesburg. No wind. Blue skies. We were the only guys out there. We decided to go down the very popular trail Platteklip.
On the way down I was bragging how beautiful nature is in Cape Town, when, like boom! — across the trail were scattered leftover sandwiches, empty bottles, banana peels, I was starting to feel embarrassed — then we got to this rock which was covered in graffiti. And I remember feeling like, this is not what I have been bragging about and I felt really uncomfortable. I realised this litter had been there for ages and I just hadn’t seen it. That evening I emailed park rangers to find out who was going to clean this up.
But I realised I had to ask a different question. I had to ask: What is my legacy? What am I contributing? What role can I play?
So I created a Facebook page and invited my trail community to the first trail clean up on Mandela Day 5 years ago. with 100 people — after that I realised people needed more information to help them give back. We have now hosted 16 official cleanups and we have picked up over 2 tons of litter in this time.
In the process I have leant a lot about our ecosystem, what orange peels cause or how damaging it is to walk off-trail.
Galeo: Why trails? What is it about trails and what do they mean in your life?
Blake: They take me to beautiful places, I can get to have coffee on the mountain while everyone else is still sleeping — but his is superficial. Trails connect us to nature, to other places, to family and each other. They also connect us spiritually and emotionally back to ourselves, they allow us to process and think and be clear. I have never been out on a trail and come back a worse person, I come back better, happier more content. I feel they are corridors and pathways that allow connection. And every time I go out that connection is different.
Galeo: Have trails played a role in travel opportunities for you?
Blake: Take the way trails help us travel locally, within our own town and communities, its allowed me to geographically experience things and be aware of what is around me. It is easy to be drawn into the money making places, tourism corridors, safe places. When you follow nature trails where animals walk where people in history walked I feel more connected and content. I love this.
Internationally if I am travelling I always make time to climb local mountain or follow a local trail and it takes me out there where i get to feel more and see more, meeting people I did not expect to see in the country. Walking a trail, even a short one, is like a life journey. They teach us to be persistent and to seek the beauty in everything, that’s why I go on trails.
Biggest thing travel allows me to do is appreciate the different way people around the world see things and do things. Trails have allowed me it travel.
Galeo: If there was one destination you could travel to outside South Africa where would that be?
Blake: I’d love 3 months off to cycle or hike the old Silk Road through Asia to the Black Sea. And then I am interested in the West Coast Trail in Canada on Vancouver Island, because there are bears, forests and beautiful coasts. It highlights links between people and conservation for me.
Galeo: Thank you Blake — you are clearly a great example of someone who lives the balance of life and who gives back. Thanks for sharing your passion for life, travel and trails with us — and may Love Our Trails continue to be an incredible success in raising awareness and connecting people to our trails.