Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Real Challenge of Adventure

My feet move quickly on the trail navigating the rocks as if they have a memory of exactly where each obstacle lies.  My warm breath steams through the sun as I push further onto the trail.  My eyes well slightly as I squint into the sun with the soft sting of the morning cold on my face.  The enjoyment of being outdoors is profound.  It's where I belong.  The excitement for the day's adventure swells the closer I get to the boulder field.  My eyes gaze downward toward the trail and a bright white comes into focus on the ground ahead of my path.  My stomach sinks as I see the fresh non-biodegradable styrofoam coffee cup just lying there carelessly tossed among the leaves.  I pick it up and throw it in a bag I carry for these situations.

Ten feet later down the trail another unsightly piece of litter catches my eye: an energy drink can.  I start to wonder the circumstances of how this trash ended up on a hiking trail.  The people that threw this trash out must have been carrying so much stuff that these almost weightless pieces of garbage had to be left behind because they were too heavy.

The energy drink did not provide enough fuel so that it could be carried out

I have a wish, well more of a hope, that people will someday ask themselves before throwing trash on the ground, "How difficult is it?"  How difficult is it to carry this aluminum can/styrofoam cup, that was carried out on the trail to be enjoyed while enjoying a beautiful scenic hike, to a trash can or recycle bin.  I wonder how many people will want to walk on a trail that is littered with garbage.  The point of walking out in nature is to enjoy and observe the unaffected-by-human aspects of the outdoors.  As climbers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts we are stewards to our environment first and adventurers second.

Car parts in the woods??

This is one of the main reasons I joined the Access Fund.  Their Adopt-a-Crag and TeamWorks programs give hope to the future of our hiking trails and crags.  I strongly encourage any outdoor rock climber, hiker, trail runner, or anyone who loves the outdoors to join the Access Fund or other conservation group that helps preserve our outdoor playgrounds.  If you are unable to join a conservation group you can always help out by picking up the trash (hopefully none) that you find out on the trail.  If we don't do our part to keep the outdoors clean, soon our trails will look like this...

Conservation Groups/Sites Worth Checking Out or Joining: