A passion for nature and adventure
Smith, who worked as a civil engineer for 40 years, has always loved nature and adventure. He grew up in the Himalayas, where he learned to ski and climb. He moved to Rasipuram in 1980, and settled down with his wife and two children. He retired in 2010, and decided to pursue his hobby of trail building.
“I wanted to do something useful and meaningful with my time,” he said. “I also wanted to share my passion for nature and adventure with others.”
Smith started by exploring the forests and hills around his home, looking for potential routes and scenic spots. He then began to clear the land, using hand tools and a chainsaw. He also collected rocks, logs, and other materials to construct bridges, steps, and benches along the way.
He named his trails after his favorite places and people, such as Everest Trail, Annapurna Trail, and Shiva Trail. He also installed signs and maps to guide the visitors.
A local legend and a national inspiration
Smith’s trails soon attracted the attention of the local community, who were amazed by his dedication and skill. Many people started to visit his trails, either on foot or on bike, and enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of nature.
“He is a local legend,” said Rajesh Kumar, a 35-year-old teacher who often bikes on Smith’s trails. “He has done a great service to our community. His trails are a source of joy and health for many people.”
Smith’s trails also caught the eye of the national media, who featured him in several articles and documentaries. He was praised as a role model and a hero for his environmental and social contribution.
“He is an inspiration for all of us,” said Dr. Sunita Narayan, a renowned environmentalist and director of the Centre for Science and Environment. “He shows us that one person can make a difference, and that age is no barrier to achieving your dreams.”
A humble and happy man
Smith, however, remains humble and modest about his achievements. He says he does not seek fame or recognition, but simply enjoys his work and his life.
“I don’t think of myself as anything special,” he said. “I just do what I love, and I’m happy.”
He says he plans to continue building trails as long as he can, and hopes to inspire more people to join him.
“I have a lot of ideas for new trails,” he said. “I also welcome anyone who wants to help me or learn from me. There is so much to explore and discover in nature. It’s a wonderful gift that we should cherish and protect.”