Episode 162- Matthew Grills: Don't Make Excuses

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Episode 162- Matthew Grills: Don't Make Excuses

“I motivate myself, I think that’s important. If we don’t motivate ourselves then no external person or thing is going to get us out of bed and get us to do what we need to do.”

-Matthew Grills

For a few years now I have followed Matthew Grills on Instagram and, for some reason, only recently did I realize that this vegan Australian ultrarunner would make for a perfect podcast guest. Matthew was introduced to running by his father, much like me, and the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has deeply shaped their relationship for the better. Exploring these intersections that Matthew’s life is filled with, father and son, running and daily life, family and work, was a focus of mine in today’s discussion. Matthew has built a unique perspective on the world through his many ultramarathon finishes, building his dream of owning and running a cafe into a reality, raising a family, redefining his relationship with his father, and overall learning each day how to be better. In today’s conversational exploration of who Matthew Grills is we delve into each one of these topics, all the while keeping a focus on the mindset aspect of Matthew’s story and how the spirituality behind his journey has played a role.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Matt:
thetattoorunner.com
Instagram: @adventures_and_activism instagram.com/adventures_and_activism/
Instagram (cafe): @thejourneybargara instagram.com/thejourneybargara/

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Episode 161- Thomas Reiss: It's About Showing Up

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Episode 161- Thomas Reiss: It's About Showing Up

“If you challenge yourself and you do hard things, suddenly the things that you think are hard in regular life are not really that hard.”

-Thomas Reiss

The common thread between all of the conversations that occur on this show is the simple truth that pushing your mind and body in the outdoors, beyond your perceived limits, will positively shape you. This truth is evident to Thomas Reiss and his family, who have a deep bond through adventuring in nature. I am always fascinated with conversations that explore the connection between running and life, in today’s chat Thomas and I delve into how the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can radically change someone for the better. I met Thomas at his house, a beautifully designed structure in San Luis Obispo, where we hiked and drank coffee before sitting down to chat. Thomas’ unique perspective on the world, shaped by running, growing up in Germany, and traveling to adventure everywhere from the Sierras to Everest Base Camp with his sons, shines through in our wide-ranging conversation today. I truly hope you enjoy listening as we examine Thomas’ story, how international travel shapes a person, what it means to learn from failure, how to endure discomfort, the connection between creativity and running, and the intricacies of being a successful runner while raising a family and running a company.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Thomas:
thomasreiss.com
kraftwerkdesign.com
Instagram: @thomas.rei55 instagram.com/thomas.rei55/
Facebook: Thomas Reiss facebook.com/thomas.reiss

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Episode 160- Crack On

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Episode 160- Crack On

An aspect of the health and wellness world that is too often not discussed or explored is honesty, honesty with ourselves and with the world around us. Here on Touching the Trail, I work to present my life, and the ups and downs in it, with an honest voice. I am not perfect, far from it, and as such, I often feel inadequate, insecure, stagnant, or like I have no idea what I am doing. However, I have learned that if I allow myself to become depressed or distracted by such thoughts I am allowing those demons to control me, I am their prisoner. Instead, if I acknowledge their presence and then simply crack on I have found that I can lace up my boots, push through the muck of the challenge, and get to the dry land on the other side of the mud. Instead of becoming mired in the slime I can move forward with a perseverant mindset. We have a responsibility, to ourselves, to better ourselves, but we can only do that if we are strong enough to push through the challenges that arise within.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 159- Daniel Almazán Klinckwort: Aire Libre

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Episode 159- Daniel Almazán Klinckwort: Aire Libre

“If you remove borders, we’re all the same.”

-Daniel Almazán Klinckwort

Aire Libre founders Eme Morato (left), Daniel Almazán Klinckwort (middle), and Mauricio Díaz (right).

Aire Libre founders Eme Morato (left), Daniel Almazán Klinckwort (middle), and Mauricio Díaz (right).

Three key focuses of my life, indeed of what I do here on Touching the Trail, are nutrition, spirituality, and endurance. As such, I was fascinated when I heard about Aire Libre, a retreat hosting and storytelling company based in Mexico City. Aire Libre host retreats in Mexico, with plans to expand their offerings to other parts of the world soon, that combine running, native spiritual wisdom, whole food, and spirituality. I first heard about Aire Libre through my friend Hakim Tafari. Ironically Daniel, co-founder of Aire Libre, reached out to me. I invited him on the podcast to talk about his story and what he and his friends, as Aire Libre began simply as friends who love to run wanting to share an adventure, have built. Today’s episode delves into what Aire Libre is, how ancient native spiritual wisdom can benefit us today, using running as a tool for personal peace and for political change, engaging with the land around us, learning from our pasts, building community, living truthfully, ritual, reading, and more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Daniel:
dklinckwort.com
Instagram: @dklinckwort instagram.com/dklinckwort/
Facebook: Daniel Almazán Klinckwort facebook.com/dklinckwort

Find Aire Libre:
airelibre.run
Instagram: @airelibre.run instagram.com/airelibre.run/
Youtube: Aire Libre Running youtube.com/channel/UC9du0euKdG0LCsgzI5FT9mQ/
Facebook: @airelibre.run facebook.com/airelibre.run

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Header photo shot by Daniel Almazán Klinckwort

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Episode 158- Broaden Your Horizons

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Episode 158- Broaden Your Horizons

There are often times in our lives, I definitely know there have been in mine, where we let the stressors and responsibilities that surround us control us. Often that situation stems from losing balance, from putting too much focus on one thing and then, when something unexpected emerges, we become overwhelmed. This simple equation has played a major role in my life over my time in college, so going into this new quarter I have realized the importance of making balance a priority. One way of doing that, I have come to recognize, is by broadening my horizons and exploring the aspects of myself that I have not before. By being unafraid to try new things beyond the horizon of my comfort zone I may very well find something new that provides me supreme happiness. Exploring this complexity is a way to help teach yourself more and more who you truly are and what honestly fulfills you, by doing so you learn where to place your time, energy, and focus. Join me today in examining this technique for finding balance.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 157- 2018: Year of Surprises

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Episode 157- 2018: Year of Surprises

Life rarely, if ever, turns out exactly the way one expects it to. Often the case is that it turns out completely opposite to your expectations. 2018 was a year that, for me, turned out completely opposite to my expectations. This year held the highest of highs and lowest of lows for me, but through it all, I realized two key aspects of personal betterment. The first is to embrace the personal growth that comes with facing the unexpected, which this year held a lot of for me. The second is to embrace the fact that change is a constant which, despite the paradoxical-sounding nature of that statement, means that we are never the person we were a year ago or will be a year from now. Personal change is an important aspect of life, if we steer that change in a positive direction. Learning that has been this year’s journey. Today I delve into the ups and downs of this year to illustrate those points. Happy New Year!

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 156- Kristian Morgan: Staring Down the Appalachian Trail FKT

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Episode 156- Kristian Morgan: Staring Down the Appalachian Trail FKT

“Sometimes the mind limits us, when in reality we can do a whole lot more than we really believe we can.”

-Kristian Morgan

Many times in life various pieces fall together, often by complete surprise, to create something beautiful. As I always try to tell the stories of people from all aspects of society who are bettering themselves, I was intrigued when Kristian Morgan reached out to me suggesting we chat. Kristian will attempt to break the Appalachian Trail FKT (Fastest Known Time), currently held by Karel Sabbe, on July 1st, 2019. Beyond this attempt, he is an accomplished ultrarunner in his own right, having completed the Tor Des Geants, UTMB, Marathon Des Sables, Rhonda Del Cims, and more. Kristian and I sat down over Skype, using the magic of the internet to chat across an ocean and continent because he is located in London. Kristian and I explored his story with running, how long, tough races like Tor De Geants have shaped him, how to learn from failure, how to apply the lessons we learn from endurance to other aspects of our lives, the benefits of being present, keeping your body healthy, goal setting, fear, and much more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Kristian:
kristianultra.com
Instagram: @kristianultra instagram.com/kristianultra/
Twitter: @kristianultra twitter.com/KristianUltra
Facebook: @kristianultra facebook.com/kristianultra/

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Episode 155- Jadd Martinez: Jadd's Got the Runs

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Episode 155- Jadd Martinez: Jadd's Got the Runs

“Things aren’t as easy as just snapping your fingers, you have to work at it.”

-Jadd Martinez

Often the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other can seem to magically solve almost all of our problems. However, it takes someone who is deeply connected to that truth of running to remind us of it. That someone is Jadd Martinez, a runner familiar with both the day in, day out rhythm of training and the wonder of grand adventures like the Grand Slam of Ultras (four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs,Old Dominion 100, Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville Trail 100, and Wasatch Front 100, ran in a year), which he completed in 2016. Jadd and I met to discuss this truth, and many other topics, at his beautiful property in Arroyo Grande, where we also went for a run and hung out at his house. On today’s episode we delve into his story, the benefits of running consistently, learning from discomfort, working with the voices in our heads that tell us to stop when it hurts, learning from failure, engaging with nature, his life as a homesteader, gardening, staying healthy, and more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Jadd:
jaddgottheruns.com/
Instagram: instagram.com/jaddgottheruns/
Twitter: twitter.com/Jaddgottheruns
Facebook: facebook.com/jadd.martinez

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Episode 154- Sanjay Rawal: Running as Prayer in "3100: Run and Become"

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Episode 154- Sanjay Rawal: Running as Prayer in "3100: Run and Become"

“Humanity evolves not because of physical need, but because of spiritual need.”

-Sanjay Rawal

To tell a truly compelling story is one of the most difficult challenges. To tell a truly compelling story about the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, an up to 52 day race that takes place around a half mile block in Queens, is even more so. Documentarian Sanjay Rawal was not only able to compellingly tell the story of this race, in his film 3100: Run and Become, but to use the race as a canvas to tell the stories of the Kalahari San Bushmen, the Mt. Hei Monks, and the runners of the Navajo Nation. Sanjay is a wise man who can coherently translate the lessons he’s learned from making this film, and becoming an expert on these various cultures, into a tangible perspective on what they hold for our day to day lives. Traveling the world and becoming immersed in these running cultures has provided Sanjay the intimate understanding that running is not strictly for fitness, competition, or punishment, but that running is a prayer. To share the message that running and spirituality are deeply interconnected, since the dawn of our species, was the mission of the film. Combining the simple act of running and the power of spirituality has always been a focus of mine and so learning from Sanjay was an honor. In today’s episode we delve into the connection between running and spirituality, the making of the film, what we can learn from the stories of the cultures Sanjay covered, how to learn from failure, how to apply the lessons of endurance to day to day life, living truthfully, finding a flow state, humility, using running as a tool for change, and more.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

3100: Run and Become Available Now On Digital!

(iTunes, Google Play, Amazon)

3100film.com

Find Sanjay:
Instagram: instagram.com/mrsanjayr/?hl=en
Twitter: twitter.com/mrsanjayr?lang=en
Facebook: facebook.com/sanjaydrawal

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Episode 153- Edwin "The Jester" Ettinghausen: The Jester Speaks

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Episode 153- Edwin "The Jester" Ettinghausen: The Jester Speaks

“Failure is a state of mind.”

-Edwin Ettinghausen

The ability to endure harsh challenges on a consistent basis and the ability to embrace those harsh challenges as not only an opportunity for growth, but also as plain fun, is a rare combination, but Edwin “The Jester” Ettinghausen has it. Ed is a staple of the ultrarunning scene and is well-accustomed to the art of endurance running: he has run 173 100-mile (or longer) races in his lifetime and in 2014 he ran 41 in a calendar year. Beyond his running ability, Edwin is a wise man who can coherently translate the skills he’s learned in running into daily life and talk about how he does that. In today’s episode we take a wide-ranging approach to delve into all aspects of Edwin’s story, his views on the approaches one should take to challenge, how to overcome failure, learning from the past, engaging with others, and the mindset behind living a life where one betters themselves consistently.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Edwin:
Instagram: instagram.com/edwin_jester_ettinghausen/?hl=en
Twitter: twitter.com/runjesterrun?lang=en
Facebook: facebook.com/ed.ettinghausen

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Episode 152- Preparation is Key

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Episode 152- Preparation is Key

The stressors of life are like a wave: you can easily be pummeled and pulled under. However, you have it within your power to break free of the imprisonment that is caused by allowing yourself to be chained to your stressors and distractions. One of the tools you can employ to break free is preparation. I always say ‘prepare for the future, learn from the past, but live in the present’ and practicing to follow this saying is a daily process. Each week you have the opportunity to prepare for what is to come and, therefore, provide yourself a greater peace of mind. That is what preparation does: provide you confidence in your ability to weather the ebb and flow of life. That confidence, in turn, provides a greater degree of happiness. Listen in as I delve into how to be happier through planning better.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 151- The Adventure, Not the Race

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Episode 151- The Adventure, Not the Race

Sometimes when life does not go in the planned direction that change of course can become a gift, instead of a curse. I have spent the majority of my running career using races as the barometer for my success and ability in running far. This year’s busyness and additional responsibilities helped me to realize that not only is racing not always possible, but sometimes it just isn’t smart. After recently having an upcoming race canceled on me I realized that I should take the time given to me to focus on other aspects of running that I haven’t explored before. The idea of engaging in self-powered adventures, employing a bicycle, my running ability, and possibly even my climbing skills, has always fascinated me. Acknowledging that races are not everything I have made it my mission to focus on those human-powered adventures in the months to come. This focus will allow me to broaden my creative skills in exploring the world around me in new and interesting ways, all from my front door and back again. It is vital that we take the unexpectedness of life and do our best to learn from it. Which is exactly what running has taught me: take it one step at a time.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 150- Consistency is Key!

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Episode 150- Consistency is Key!

By building, and committing to, a routine we teach ourselves how to endure challenging times and be present amongst positive times. Along the wild ride that 150 episodes of this podcast has brought me one of the most important lessons that I have learned is to be consistent. Consistency is applicable to all facets of life and it allows you to build not only your skills at the task at hand, but also yourself. By committing each day to accomplishing activities that positively fulfill you, you are bettering yourself. I would never have been able to reach where I am at in life without the practice of consistency. However, life is a process and you will fail and falter. You will not always be consistent with your tasks, but perfection is not the goal. Being better is the goal and that only comes through taking each step along the journey, as I have done on this podcast, with peace, presence, and perseverance.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 149- On Voting

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Episode 149- On Voting

Due to all of my talk of paradigm breaking one may think that voting would be an aspect of society that I would also have issues with. However, I have found that voting, in and of itself, is a powerful form of paradigm breaking. To me the act of voting is the opportunity to shape the world around you for the better and what, if not that, is paradigm breaking? The established order does not, indeed must not, constantly remain the same and voting is the mechanism through which we, as citizens of this democracy, forge that change. To vote is to use your voice to shatter the status quo. The greatest rebels in history, the Buddha, Jesus, Paul, MLK, Jr., used only their voices to radically change the world for the better. Voting is your opportunity to do the same. Listen in today as I discuss the power of a vote.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 148- Let Your Freak Flag Fly

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Episode 148- Let Your Freak Flag Fly

I have always had a deep fascination with the perimeter of conventional society, the domain of weirdos, rebels, and paradigm breakers. It is not only a fascination, but a lifestyle, because I am very much on the outskirts of “normal” society. The common thread between the various subcultures that I have interacted with on the outskirts, from Comic Con attendees to ultrarunners, is passion. Everyone in these various groups is deeply passionate about their oddity and has surrounded themselves with people who are as well. That support network provides them the platform to let their freak flag fly and, therefore, be themselves. We are complex creatures that cannot, indeed must not, be fit into a singular box by society. Letting our freak flags fly isn’t only life advice, but a social necessity to build a world where we can all work to be our true selves.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 147- Finding Fluidity

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Episode 147- Finding Fluidity

Over the past few weeks, and for a few more weeks to come, I have spent each weekend in places other than San Luis Obispo, where I’m living right now. In other words I have been moving around a lot and in that chaotic environment, coupled with a heavy load of schoolwork, I have been thinking a lot about how I can best find peace in the moment. As a rock climber, cyclist, and runner I have recognized the commonality between the three distinct sports: finding fluidity will make for a much better climb, ride, or run. I realized that that mantra, find fluidity, is not only beneficial to sport, but to daily life as well. It allows us, if we focus on it, to recognize that we must not fight the situation we are in, but work with and learn from it. So listen in today as I discuss the benefits for your personal peace of finding the fluidity in the moment.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 146- The New Surrealists

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Episode 146- The New Surrealists

Throughout my entire life I have been fascinated by the act of shocking people out of their automatic modes of living. As such, I was intrigued by Salvador Dalí’s revolutionary perspectives on morality and society. He was a rebel and the genre of art that he worked under, Surrealism, was as well. Surrealism, Futurism, and Avant-garde are all thought provoking movements on the act of breaking the paradigm. To subvert the status quo is always my goal, to help my peers redefined their perception of what is possible, and those movements have evolved into something wholly unique: a New Surrealism that I believe is led by artists like Marilyn Manson and Megadeth, comedians like Key & Peele, and athletes like Anton Krupicka. A disparate bunch, but the one thing that they all have in common is that they break the paradigm. Blazing our own trails is not only an artistic mission, but an actionable tool for positive societal change and so always remember this: stay true to yourself!

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Sources:

Artaud, Antonin. “The Theater of Cruelty (First Manifesto).” The Theater and Its Double. Grove Press, 1958, pp. 89-100.
Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso. “The Futurist Manifesto.”
Dalí, Salvador. “The Moral Position of Surrealism.”
Fronsdal, Gil. The Dhammapada: a New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations. Shambhala, 2008.
Marilyn Manson. “Disposable Teens.” Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), Nothing Records & Interscope Records, 2000.
Megadeth. “Peace Sells.” Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying, Capitol Records, Inc., 1986.

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Episode 145- Jessica Morey: Meditation for Teens

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Episode 145- Jessica Morey: Meditation for Teens

“A lot of the work is giving enough to get them curious and willing to look inside and see.”

-Jessica Morey

Youth is a nebulous and intimidating concept to some, especially the farther one moves away from it. However, this week’s guest, Jessica Morey, embraces youth, despite the fact she is not one herself anymore, and works to give back. Jessica has spent a lifetime meditating, she began when she was 14, and now spends her days teaching teenagers how to meditate. That fact, coupled with her passion for the task, fascinated me and so I asked her on the show. Teenagers, and young people in general, are a unique group, I know seeing as how I am one, and a group that society typically misunderstands. However, today Jessica and I sit down to go deep into her story, how she found meditation, how teens aren’t as confusing or mysterious as one might think, and that teens too can and do benefit deeply from meditation. I hope our conversation today provides you perspective on what meditation can do for you.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 144- Do Your Own Research

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Episode 144- Do Your Own Research

How do an art & literature Bible class, Robert Browning’s 1842 poem “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister,” and building a steel frame fixie bike with gravel geometry from scratch all relate? Through research, is how. Research is the key component in understanding, interpreting, and/or executing all of these projects and topics. Research for your personal edification is not an intellectual’s pastime, but a vital activity for everyone to become conscientious media consumers. In our world of passionate opinion making, “alternative facts,” and lies from the highest office, it is important to process this onslaught of information using the sieve of your own knowledge. But, that knowledge can only be helpful if it is fueled by multiple perspectives, has a strong foundation, and helps you to become more well-rounded. Listen today as I delve into the process and topic of doing you own research.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 143- Productivity is Not King

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Episode 143- Productivity is Not King

The stories we tell ourselves and each other are reminders on how to be better. That is what I try to achieve each week in this podcast. As I worked this weekend on my various endeavors I slowly, but surely checked off items on the to-do list that I had made for myself. However, that got me to thinking about the near constant reinforcement of the idea that the more you get done the better you are that I see in the media. Our culture is obsessed with productivity and people, too often, invest their happiness in judging how much they have gotten done that day. The more the better, right? Wrong. Happiness does not come from productivity and productivity must not be your prison. When accomplishing tasks, whatever they may be, you must stay present, stay focused, and remember to take a step back from what you do to gain a better perspective. Fall in love with the process, as I always say.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Support Touching the Trail:
touchingthetrail.com/donate 
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