This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

We’ve been hiking a lot this summer.

We’re going on day 46 of 100 consecutive days of hiking here.

We try to hike with a ziploc bag to pick up trash that we see on the trails.

You see, I don’t mind picking up a piece of paper here, or what I call “accidental garbage”–we’ve been known to accidentally drop a cracker or too on the trails. That kind of stuff happens.

But I do mind “deliberate garbage”–meaning trash that jerks leave in our wilderness areas with no intention of packing it out.

I hate coming across a fire pit full of trash. A fire pit is not nature’s garbage can, and most of the time those types of fire pits aren’t even legal.

You suck jerks.

I’ve packed out your condom wrappers, cigarette butts, beer bottles, socks (oh Lord have I seen socks out there), fireworks, t-shirts, baby diapers (yep), and chew cans. Don’t even get me started about how much I hate picking up bags of dog poop on the side of the trail. It’s like a magic gift that emerges every spring.

So, yah, you could say I’m angry.

But thanks for helping me teach my children valuable lessons about environmental stewardship as we pick up your garbage together.

We have this website encouraging people to get outdoors. We want to lead guided trips and tours. We want to teach a backcountry navigation class and hold seminars. We want to take people to see cool historic sites.

But we have a responsibility here, especially going forward as we try to obtain the appropriate permits from the National Forest.

I believe that the majority of people who use the National Forest do the right thing. It’s the small minority who are jerks. The problem is that they create such a problem that it looks bad on everyone who uses the National Forest.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

But I get the feeling that I’m not the only one who’s angry. We see people picking up trash on the trails frequently, I think most of our readers are the one’s doing the right thing and picking up their own trash…if not the trash that other’s leave behind.

The sad thing is it’s just not the trash.

  • It’s people carving their initials into trees. (Get real, it’s 2014 who does this?)
  • It’s people not using switchbacks.
  • It’s people driving ATV’s on trails only open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.
  • It’s people ruining precious vegetation by driving their vehicles where they shouldn’t.

So what can we do?

  • Is it enough to just pick up trash when we see it and to try to reduce our own impact on the environment?
  • Is it enough to tell someone to stop being a jerk when you see them doing something stupid in the wilderness.

I don’t know.

I’d like to think that as our local hiking community grows and expands we can eventually do something like the awesome Poudre Wilderness Volunteers.

Or maybe do some volunteer work for the Forest Service.

But until then I’ll keep on saving room in my pack for the trash of others, and I hope you will too.

So let’s end with a positive. Leave a comment below and tell us about something good you’ve seen someone do on our local trails. It could be as simple as saying “hello” or someone giving directions to someone, or being a responsible user of the forest. We’re sticking a few Just Trails stickers in the mail to anyone who can tell us something good!


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User Comments

  1. Pingback: Keep the Med Bow Beautiful! -Join Us! -Just Trails

  2. Linda |

    I used to be a VIP (Volunteer in the Park) at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee for many years. It is incredible what people leave behind. I did a four mile trail but the first 1.5 miles were the worst as many folks went up that far to see a nice waterfall and not go much further.

    If someone ‘packs it in’ then after you have used the contents why can’t they ‘pack it out” too? What a shame. Cigarette butts were my pet peeve.

    Thanks for going above and beyond and helping to save our natural wonders.

    • Rebecca |

      Ugh, yes icky cigarette butts. Thank YOU for your volunteer service 🙂 Cheers!

  3. Pingback: Wyoming Wilderness: Finding Balance -Just Trails

  4. Sara |

    I believe you’ve talked about this before but WHO bags dog poop and then DOESN’T pack it out?? It makes no sense! Might as well just NOT bag it!

  5. Lindsay Sweley |

    My friend and I met two dudes from Colorado who were hiking up Med Bow Peak on the same route as us and we ended up singing a song about granite counter tops together when the going got a little tough. 🙂

  6. We try very hard to do the same – wish more would. Thanks to people like you the trails can be a little better for all. We are retired and hike only in Guernsey State Park and the Laramie Peak area but still find plenty to pick up. I stuff my candy and snack wrappers in my pocket, doesn’t seem so hard. Keep spreading the word, or is it news. Nice post and keep hiking Wyoming.

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