Rubbish and erosion.
While hiking on the local tracks I have become aware of the erosion that is taking place as more people use the tracks for recreational use. Rubbish and vandalism is another problem. An old mattress dumped and boxes of old clothes, obviously didn’t drop out of some one’s pocket by mistake, it was a conscious act. I’m sure there will be lots of reasons to justify this behavior, as there usually is nowadays. Empty fast food boxes and discarded beer cans say the same thing, it’s easy to pick up, or is it just laziness. I know the tracks are not there just for my benefit, they are there to be shared. The erosion from trail bikes can only make matters worse. Erosion can’t be put in a bin or taken down to the local landfill
Close to the road.
The tracks are relatively close to roadways, so they become an easy target for abuse. A closeness to the public, who will not be using the tracks for there intended purpose. If your there to enjoy nature and an experience out of the everyday. Then you will not want to bring a sense of the everyday into nature. Is there a naïve mindset taking place that see’s nature as a benevolent parent. Nature is harsh and inhospitable at times, it can also be inviting as well. Is a form of escapism the thing we are really looking for. Or is it a sign that someone is less in love with nature, than out of love with society.
Green science can be learned by hikers to protect nature, hiking etiquette is quite obvious in straight forward ways. “Take you litter home” “keep on the pathway” bury human waste at least 200 feet from water sources or campsites. The not so obvious, take your used toilet paper with you, at the other end of the scale, but just as valuable. Clothing without natural earth colors, can be seen from miles away. This can contribute to a crowded feeling on the trail.
Encouragement to not litter.
The Hong Kong government has taken the bold step of removing litter bins from certain hiking trails on a trial basis. This sounds a bit backward, but over filled bins where rubbish was blowing everywhere and foraging animals was adding to a serious problem. Posters at the entrances urge hikers to take their crap home with them. Nature ambassadors, along with park rangers try to enforce the trail laws. Variations of this concept are going on in many other places around the world. These hiking trails are referred to as “country parks” that can attract up to 11 million visitors a year. This is a huge volume by any standards.
The West Highland Way.
The “West Highland Way” in Scotland, while not attracting millions of visitors every year, is still a very popular hike. The trail is crowded at certain peak seasonal periods, which creates its own issues. The trail is 95 miles, therefore it’s not a “park” and can’t be policed in the same way. Most of the organized groups have leaders that understand nature etiquette. Individual hikers maybe not so much, but there were no signs of serious littering. The erosion of the track in certain areas is particularly bad especially when traversing the edge of Loch Lomond. Though not very far from civilization, it’s extremely inaccessible and problematic to repair or to regenerate in a successful way.
Closing the trail for repairs or regeneration, would take away the ambition and self glory of completing a very iconic hike. A badge on one of my bags says “I walked the West Highland Way,” that’s the problem, I’m part of that problem. Not wanting to go home and say that I nearly completed the trail but not quite, it just wouldn’t sound right. Unfolding that concept, is a work in progress for an older newbie who still has things to learn.
Vanity, ambition and self glory are creating problems on the slopes of Everest, the worlds highest mountain. These concepts are driving individuals seeking publicity, a very dangerous combination in a potential “death zone.” Death on the lower slopes and on the slope to the summit have not gone up, but haven’t come down either. Not withstanding the earth quake that claimed so many lives in 2015.
Clean up’s have collected tons of rubbish, empty oxygen bottles, lost and abandoned gear also remain scattered on the peak. Lack of a solid waste management system, has for decades seen expedition members emptying their bowels wherever they could. Human feces has accumulated in the snow, with streams of excrement periodically regurgitated by the glaciers on the mountain. Most disturbing, are the corpses which can’t be safely removed. Some corpses have been there for years and have become part of the landscape.
The rubbish at the top of the world is caused by humans and has roots in the culture of ambition and self glory. Client climbers are part of a high altitude business, capitalizing on dreams of triumph among a relatively inexperienced, but wealthy elite. Client climbers breath bottled oxygen for much of the climb, it’s been said that without artificial means, many hikers and climbers, wouldn’t stand a chance of making it to the summit. Purists say that using bottled oxygen is lowering the height of the mountain. Tighter regulations in a relatively poor country could lead to a sharp decrease in the number of hikers trekking the Everest region, striking a huge blow to the local economy. Imposing more stringent controls is understandable but have been pushed to one side.
Local hikes may be the answer.
From local tracks that have problems with rubbish and erosion on a small scale. To countries that have vast amounts of hikers needing to contain huge amounts of rubbish and erosion. Issues can only be solved out of nature within the public realm, money is part of the problem and part of the answer. Attaining a sensory experience within nature, in a natural environment, will be progressively harder to find. Going back to the local tracks around your area, could the answer. I would encourage you not to tell everyone about your plans, you may need signs and extra bins, or a smart strategy to take care of your once quiet track