Donor Mari Tustin

Always Finding a Trail

There’s nothing quite like opening up your tent flap at 2 a.m., 11,000 feet up in the Sierras to see the Milky Way in the summer night sky. Or standing near a remote waterfall and feeling its spray on your face.

The feeling I get in the national parks is like nothing else on this earth. From hiking the canyons of California and the Southwest to my first bear experience while camping with my kids in Yosemite, there’s always something magical to discover in the parks.

I’ve had the great fortune of visiting 25 national parks and backpacking in many more. I had my share of rough times like other backpackers . . . I got lost, ran out of water, hiked after dark, got bug bites and scraped my knees…a lot. But I just kept going back again and again.

I can’t do as much as I used to. I’m in my seventies and have had three hip replacements. But I can still do 5 mile-hikes and try to get out to the trails near my house as often as I can.

For my 60th birthday, I wanted to challenge myself and do something rather epic. So, I signed up for a 10-day rim to rim hike in Grand Canyon National Park. It was ambitious and difficult. But it was so transformative, I went back to hike in the Grand Canyon five more times.

Now I’m passionate about bringing this experience to younger generations, especially those from urban areas. We need to get young people out there so they can see how precious these places are. It’s one of the reasons I support the National Park Foundation and decided to leave them a gift in my will.

I’m proud that the National Park Foundation and a few individual parks will receive a percentage of my assets when I am no longer here. When I think of all the parks have given me. . . how the mountains and the trees and the animals have filled my soul, I want to do something to give back to them.

It is vitally important to protect these treasures for the younger generations, and I am happy to do my part towards that goal.

« Back to all donor stories