Nick Triolo is a man on the move. An author, teacher and internationally recognized activist, the 32-year-old endurance runner finds peace and purpose by literally putting one step in front of the other.

A successful and affable student-athlete at Bret Harte High School, the 2001 graduate participated in sports, music and student government – all pursuits that ultimately influenced his future.

“At Bret Harte, I didn’t want to be pigeonholed by any particular clique, so I made inroads with just about everyone,” Triolo said about his “super-active” Bullfrog days. “High school was where I really cranked up my industriousness, getting involved in everything I could.”

Triolo headed to the University of Redlands where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and, later, a master’s degree in environmental studies at the University of Montana.

“Going off to college, I wanted to work for the government. I still trusted my government then, wanting to represent my country. I really wanted to work with others, across cultures and traditions,’ he said.

“I found I was a good diplomat, that I could easily gain the trust of others and see the world from different perspectives.”

Degree in hand, Triolo moved home to Murphys to save money so he could travel before settling into a career. Then he hit the road.

“I took off on an around-the-world trip by myself; 12 months, 12 countries, a complete circuit of the globe, solo all the way around,” Triolo said. “It was a truly life-altering experience … a big coming-of-age journey.”

Back in the states, he secured a job in marketing and communications with AFS Intercultural Programs. The job was good, but kept him cooped up indoors.

“I sought a counterweight to all this digital, cubicle work. I always loved backpacking growing up; getting out in the woods and the wild was always my highest prerogative,” Triolo recalled of how he came to be a trail runner. “Running was a way to do that. I could get twice as far into the deep wilds with half the gear. It was liberating.”

And so began a love affair with foot travel and experiencing the “more-than-human phenomena” that speckle Earth’s landscape.

“Long-distance running is grounding for me. It gets my feet firmly planted on the earth. Running is a venue for me to inhabit my own self-reliance. Running in the mountains, you can only rely on your body – no bike, no vehicle, no big pack with lots of provisions. Running in wild places tests your willingness to be animal again, to go out on a few limbs and get yourself, stripped to the bare essentials,” Triolo said.

“I feed off that edge, the danger, but also the comfort. Something about whipping through the forests and atop ridge lines feels familiar, as it does frightening. I found self-reliance, familiarity and growth in nearly every step, no matter how painful or pleasurable.”

Those footfalls, both “painful and pleasurable” have taken Triolo far and wide to settings both beautiful and barren. His runs, however, are motivated by a purpose greater than himself.

The dedicated environmentalist explained, “I found ways to merge running and raising awareness for things I cared about.”

In 2012, he designed a 50-mile protest run against Nestle Corporation’s attempt to purchase a cold water spring in the Columbia River Gorge. To date, Nestle still doesn’t have clearance to proceed.

Just nine months later, in April 2103, Triolo was in Southern Baja, Mexico, conjuring ways to rally resistance to proposed open-pit gold mining of the “gorgeous mountain range” of Sierra de la Laguna. His campaign culminated in a 70-mile awareness run.

The 70-mile crossing of the Baja Sur Peninsula, the first-ever recorded one-day attempt on foot, included 9,000 feet of vertical climb and took 18-plus hours. From the Gulf to the Pacific, Triolo was joined by over 50 runners and hundreds more in support.

Captured in a 20-minute documentary film, “The Crossing,” the run had surprising impact.

“The film has been leveraged to continue the fight there and has made it into several film festivals,” he said. “It’s been over three years and still no mining in those mountains.”

A freelance writer for various outdoor and environmental publications and a teaching assistant at the University of Montana, Triolo is never idle. He is currently working on a project to encourage Congress to designate an area in western Montana as federal wilderness and recently led a group of 20 international students on a five-week intensive course on global environmental issues.

“The curriculum is rigorous and intense. We travel around Montana and around the country –New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Washington, D.C. – to study global economic development and resource use, and learn about the political and social structure of the United States. We visit Native American reservations, talk with government officials and student activists. We volunteer at food banks and talk climate change,” Triolo said.

“The conversations are some of the richest I’ve ever had.”

His commitment drives and fulfills him as it inspires others.

Vaibhav Chakraborty, a 20-year-old student from India’s Delhi University, participated in Triolo’s 2016 summer intensive course.

“Nick was there for us as a teacher and friend, a guide and a teammate. He listened to questions from all of us throughout the day and never failed to reply. He told me that even when he was sleeping, he would hear us calling him,” he said. “He has inspired me to take up running again, to be a good human and always follow my heart and mind, instead of giving in to societal pressure and killing my dream. For me, he is a true American, representing the American spirit.”

It is that spirit – the belief that we all have the capacity to create the life of our dreams, to affect change, to make the world better – that is at Triolo’s core.

“To detangle the octopus from the buoy, which tentacle do you start with? When you pull one tentacle off, you realize it’s caught up in several others that are firmly suctioned to the buoy! We’re in quite the tangle, but there are solutions,” Triolo said in describing the incredible challenge of finding solutions to climate change, population control and drought facing our world.

“No matter what happens, I wish to never forfeit my humanness, my whole person, for the fight. Often activists spin out of control in their frantic scramble to plug all the holes in the sinking boat. I wish to plug up a few, while I enjoy the sunset from starboard.”

With journeys all over the world behind him or, perhaps more accurately, inside him, Triolo is hard-pressed to name his favorite as his next steps, those planned and unplanned, hold promise and possibility.

“I’m working on my first book right now, about revolution and pilgrimage, and in 2014 one of my chapters took me to Western Tibet, to one of the most sacred mountains on the planet, Mt. Kailash. This remains one of the most powerful trips I’ve taken.” he shared.

Triolo recently completed a three-day circumnavigation of the Huayhuash Mountains in Peru.

“It was the single-most beautiful, difficult, rugged and remote mountain project I’ve ever experienced,” he posted online. “Route finding, relentless climbs, glacial river crossings, snow, fire and cracking wind tested most of what my body, mind and heart is capable of.”

One day, he may sit “starboard” to view the colors of a painted sky. But for now, the rays of the setting sun will find him along dusty trails and mountain vistas. For myriad reasons, running is a force inside him.

“I run because when the old world ends, there will be a new world waiting, and that world is etched not in strip mines and eight-lane freeways but in game trail and footpath. I run towards this new world, a world where humans remain fair-footed and landscapes bubble with life on the move, always on the move…” Triolo mused in “Why I Run,” an April 2016 essay published in Territory Run Co.

“I run to catch up, to join this movement, the movement towards attention, towards subtle mind, towards pumping heart, lactic burn and clenched teeth. I run to remember.”

To follow Nick Triolo’s adventures, go to jasminedialogues.wordpress.com.

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