A native of Philadelphia, Rich Warms received his PhD in anthropology from Syracuse University and has been an anthropology professor at Texas State since 1988. Rich served in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso (West Africa), and returned to Africa to do his anthropological fieldwork in Mali. Rich is the co-author of several books, including Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History (with Jon McGee) and Cultural Anthropology (with Serena Nanda). Rich loves to hike and travel. He was one of the original members of the San Marcos Trail Walkers meetup group and is one of the organizers of San Marcos Take a Hike. Rich has visited 37 countries and 49 states (still missing Hawaii).
Why do you value the natural areas?
I think that the natural areas are critical to our personal and our civic health. They preserve our environment and offer a break from the intensity of the city. They give us space to be outdoors in an area where nature is relatively free. This is especially important in a region like our own where, per capita, there is very little public land. The health benefits of being out in nature are well documented. The city benefits enormously, too. The greenspaces make San Marcos a much better place to live than would otherwise be the case. Economically, they draw people from throughout the area. I’ve known many cases of people driving an hour each way to come and hike our natural areas.
I’ve always loved the woods, really from my earliest memories. The street where my childhood home was located ended in a greenspace, and from the time I was six or seven I played there (in those days, kids played unsupervised in the woods). As I grew older, I was fortunate to spend my summers in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, and then older still, traveled around the country visiting many of the National Parks. I started backpacking as a teen and continued to do it off and on for decades. When I was in college in Maine, I spent a lot of time in the mountains and at the coast. I read Edward Abbey and Aldo Leopold and I got to spend a little time with the poet Joseph Bruchac. I was also deeply influenced by friends I had then.
I really like the rougher, rockier trails. I love going up and down hillsides and in and out of valleys. My two favorites are Paraiso in Purgatory and Grey Fox in Spring Lake. I am particularly appreciative of the routing work done on Grey Fox. It’s a really nicely designed trail.
What do you most enjoy doing when you visit the Greenbelt?
I spend almost all of my time hiking when I’m in the Greenbelt. I’m one of the organizers of the Meetup.com group San Marcos Take a Hike. I lead hikes every Sunday morning and I always look forward to doing it. You can easily find San Marcos Take a Hike on meetup.com. We have hikes every Saturday and Sunday morning, year round. We’re always glad for new members and new hikers.
What recommendations would you give new users of the trail?
On this…and any other trail you’re using for the first time…be sure to use your phone to take a picture of the map at the trailhead. And, of course, in the summer, make sure you’re carrying plenty of water, especially if you’re going out after 9 or 10 in the morning.