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This amazing man is doing back-breaking work, all to save a little-known trail.

“When I drive into the Badlands, I feel my blood pressure drop. I feel my stress disappear. I feel my worries just vanish."

This amazing man is doing back-breaking work, all to save a little-known trail.
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Nature Valley

Sometimes when Nick Ybarra is out clearing the Maah Daah Hey Trail, he just wants to drop his shovel and walk away.

At 144 miles, the Maah Daah Hey in North Dakota is one of the longest single-track trails in America, and it runs through incredible, undulating, wholly unspoiled terrain. It also covers much of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is home to the famously beautiful Painted Canyon.

However, despite its unique grandeur, the trail was in danger of disappearing forever — because no one really knew about it. Ybarra was determined to change that.


The manual labor involved in doing that, though, often proves incredibly challenging.

Ybarra preparing to clear trail. All photos via Nature Valley.

“There have been so many days where I’ve almost quit and given up on trying to save this trail," says Ybarra.

It's understandable why he might want to considering the conditions he works under. It can hover past 100 degrees for days at a time in the North Dakota Badlands. Pair that with running out of water, being miles away from your truck, and being the only one out there, and the frustration is palpable.

Sometimes the work pushes him so far past his limit he just breaks down crying.

However, despite those moments, he keeps at it because he fervently believes trails like these need to live on.

Ybarra talking about his love for the trail.

His mission seems more than apropos considering Maah Daah Hey literally means "a place that will be around a long time."

An avid adventurer himself, Ybarra was inspired to save the trail on his first bike ride through it.

He started at dawn and when he hit Devil's Pass, an uncommonly beautiful part of the Badlands, he was overcome by its majesty.

"Standing there, it just cast a spell on me. This was the outdoor experience I yearned for. That ride changed my life," recalls Ybarra.

From that moment on, he was hooked. He knew he had to do all he could to make sure others were able to have the same experience.

The trail at daybreak.

While Ybarra initially cleared much of the trail on his own, the yearly upkeep could not be done without the help of volunteers.

The first group was made up of fellow bikers Ybarra knew who appreciated the trail. More came around when he started Legendary Adventures New Discoveries (L.A.N.D.) — an organization dedicated to helping people experience the Badlands.

And, today, Nick's dedication has inspired people to give over 4,000 hours of their time to maintaining the Maah Daah Hey. Without their tireless efforts, it's likely the trail would've disappeared altogether.

Ybarra mowing the trail.

In the first year of literal trailblazing, Nick and three friends mowed 200 miles of trail — aka the trail forward and backward. When rains washed their work away, they came out and cleared it again.

Their goal was to get the trail established enough to host a 100-mile race, which Ybarra thought was their best shot keeping it around.

"More people need to experience [Maah Daah Hey], so that’s why I decided to host a race," says Ybarra.

One of the initial Maah Daah Hey 100s.

In its first year, the Maah Daah Hey 100 was a free event 40 people participated in. Now it's in its sixth year, and over 430 people signed up to ride. All the funds for the event go right back into the efforts to preserve it the trail.

The Maah Daah Hey 100 as it grew more established.

They've even been able to expand the race to include shorter distance trails so people of all riding levels can participate. There are also challenging options for the more experienced riders.

Ybarra's efforts have reinvigorated the trail in an astonishing way and helped people rediscover just how amazing the outdoors can be.

Not only has he helped bring visitors from all over the world to what was once a virtually unknown trail, he's reintroduced locals to the wonders of the Badlands.

Visitors on horseback forging a river in the Badlands.

Ybarra hopes this labor of love will continue to inspire new adventurers who might've forgotten about the healing power of nature.

“When I drive into the Badlands, I feel my blood pressure drop. I feel my stress disappear. I feel my worries just vanish. I think that’s so important for people today. To just get out and find peace out on a trail somewhere."

A visitor taking in the beauty of the Badlands.

Watch Ybarra's whole journey here:

He's dedicating his life to make sure future generations can enjoy the beauty of nature.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The battle between millennials and older generations isn't exactly a generational war—it's more a case of mistaken generational identity. A decade ago, whining about millennials being young adults unprepared to make their way in the world at least made sense mathematically. But when people bag on millennials now they end up looking rather foolish.

A marketing researcher with a doctorate in social psychology wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune titled "Post-pandemic, some millennials finally decide to start #adulting." And when the Tribune shared it to Twitter, their since-deleted tweet read, "Writer Jennifer Rosner predicts COVID-10 lockdowns will force easy-breezy millennials to grow up."

Hoo boy.

Interestingly, the writer of the op-ed is a millennial herself, but she repeats generalizations about her entire generation that seem like they mainly apply to her own social circle. Read it yourself to decide, but regardless, the tweet of the op-ed itself set off a firestorm of responses from millennials who are tired of being painted as irresponsible young people who don't know how to "adult" instead of what they actually are.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.