OK, so you aren’t really interested in being told what to do, I get it. Honestly, I don’t care what you do in your backyard with your cigarette butts and trash. Pile it high. Live and roll around in it.
But you know, when I’m out on the trails, wherever they are, that space is mine. It’s also the domain of the deer I saw across the creek, of the bike riders and other hikers, of the botanist and the families and the rangers and the dogs. And yes, the bears, mountain lions, fish.
So just, come on, pack it in, pack it out. Pack and butts. All of it. When I was 16, just learning to drive, this bratty kid would throw trash out of my car window. Then I grew up. I’m not 16 any more. I have come to love and respect public space, and our precious planet. None us know what the future holds, so today, I try to treat everything as precious.
I try to pick up what I can, and on most of the trails maintained by the outdoors lovers themselves, I have found over the years the trails much cleaner than public parks frequented by the masses. It’s those less accessible spaces, dare I say where the folks who don’t visit regularly are branching out, leaving things noticeably junked up these past few months.
Of course it’s always a problem at our parks. Once the park reopened, families rushed to Whiskeytown NRA and frequently left their stuff behind where they were hanging out with their kids. Nice lesson. Don’t tell us someone is paid to clean that up. They are paid to maintain and improve and keep our parks safe. They aren’t paid to do your dirty work.
At one of my favorite BLM spots in the west county, I saw a month or so an example of this right after the Covid-19 quarantine kicked in. It also was a spot on the Bigfoot Challenge circuit. It was getting a ton of extra traffic, and guess what? People were PILING up their trash underneath the trail sign. I’m not saying these were mountain bike folks, I’m just saying that all of us watched… and who the hell was adding to it? Yep, the particular spot does not have a trash can, just a restroom. That means since it can’t be cleared out regularly, it’s up to us. I try to carry a trash bag and do a little bit every time. Many do much, much more than that. Folks like the BLM, the Redding Trail Allilance, McConnell Foundation and so many others.
And how about the dog poop bag left by the side of the trail? Come on. You know you almost never come back and get it, even though you say – “I’ll leave it here and get it on the loop back.” I’ve done it, so I know. Now, I just carry it with me, or if I’m still near the car, put it by the car door so I can’t forget to pack it out. And if I can’t because Im out on the trail and out of bags, I kick it into the brush without the bag, at least. It’s better than leaving plastic in the wild. Nobody’s perfect.
I’m thinking this is a bad time to point out all this stuff, but at a time when basic human decency, the little things, can create positive habits for us all, it’s something I can do. Like fish out your cigarette butts from Olney Creek, trasshole.
Here are a few other posts I’ve shared including the word “poop”, if you’re interested…