Katie Smith Deolloz founded WalkSMTX out of a passion to merge the need for people to live more physically active lifestyles with advocacy for safe places in which to move. WalkSMTX will oﬀer community walks focused on building connections between people and places, personalized coaching services, and partnerships with local businesses and organizations wanting to create healthier work environments for their teams. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, Katie is an integrative health coach who understands the importance of being able to walk as a normal part of everyday life without fear of injury or death. She has previously served on the boards of Vision Zero ATX and Walk Austin, was an active member of both the City of Austin Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Councils is a member of the Society for Barefoot Living, new member of both the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance and San Marcos Rotary Club. She is honored to be a 2017 Fellow of the America Walks National Walking College. Her dream is to see San Marcos be transformed into America’s most walkable city!
Why do you value the natural areas? Why do you think natural spaces in general are important?
Walt Whitman captured the sentiment best with his words, “The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at ﬁrst; Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.”
We exist in a frenetic environment and require respite from the noise and chaos; natural spaces provide the necessary quiet and calm. As an avid barefooter, I especially appreciate the opportunity to discharge the energetic build-up and literally reconnect to the earth beneath me.
What is your favorite trail? What do you like about it?
Currently I most enjoy my walking sojourns in Purgatory Creek Natural Area along the Beatrice trail. Typically, I am solo, and the softness of the ground absorbs nearly all the sound, so it is beautifully quiet there.
What do you most enjoy doing when you visit the Greenbelt?
I had been hiking along the American Discovery Trail in California prior to arriving in San Marcos, so it has been wonderful to be able to don my 30 lb. weighted vest (as opposed to my 40+ lb. pack full of gear!) and get in some textured mileage away from people driving cars. While I’ll admit I’d love for the terrain to be hillier, I’m grateful to have ready access to such well-maintained trails.
What recommendations would you give new users of the trails?
Think through your route in advance and use the maps available to you on the website and at the trailheads. While the wayﬁnding is well-marked, it is still possible to get oﬀ-trail in a few spots. Also, be willing to engage in conversation with other people along the way. For instance, if someone is birdwatching, ask questions about which birds she is looking for or what inspired him to start the hobby. You never know what you will learn when you take the time to converse with people and listen to their responses.
How do you hope to contribute to the walking culture in San Marcos?
To be honest, I did not anticipate landing in San Marcos when I did. Earlier in the year I had enthusiastically commenced on my Walk Across America via the American Discovery Trail starting at Point Reyes National Seashore. However, due to wildﬁres, drought, and family needs, I chose to return to Texas and bloom where I was planted.
It’s not surprising to know that I spent a lot of time walking around town to get to know the place and its people, and I saw an incredible opportunity to use my unique set of skills and life experiences to help transform San Marcos into America’s most walkable city! WalkSMTX is the name of the organization I formed, and we should be establishing our 501(c)3 status shortly. Our focus will be on encouraging the people of San Marcos to make walking a normal part of everyday life through experiential education.
To what do you attribute your love of walking?
Walking is the most accessible form of movement for most people. The ability to put one foot in front of the other and move through space is a gift that I do not take for granted. There are so many ways to walk: ﬁtness-focused, meditative, after dinner constitutionals, solo, with friends, urban hiking, etc. No equipment is required—heck, if you’d like to go barefoot like me, you don’t even need shoes! *chuckle*
How often do you walk?
Every. Single. Day. I’d love to take a walk with you (the reader), too!