Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Trash in the woods
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ed Collyer
(ecollyer) - F

Locale: East Bay Area
Trash in the woods on 11/19/2009 13:03:56 MST Print View

Almost every time I come back from a trip I have a water bottle holder full of OTHER PEOPLES trash. Some of it is understandable, I guess, like the corner of a snickers wrapper or random p-cord lengths, maybe even a water bottle. Sometime things fall out of your pocket, especially when travelling off-trail.

A few weeks ago I came to a camp site in Emigrant Wilderness, an I found a dirty diaper next to a fire pit. What is up with that. These people bring their horses and luxuries but cant pack their crap out (literally).

My question is, do you pick up trash as much as I do and would your pack out someone elses dirty diaper?

I did not pack the diaper out....thinking back maybe I should have.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Yep on 11/19/2009 13:11:23 MST Print View

I pick up a lot of trash, and tend to grumble while I do it. I can't understand how someone could hike a couple of miles into the woods, appreciate their surroundings, and ruin the experience for the next person by leaving their trash behind.

I have seen used TP in a firepit, and no I didn't pack that out. I felt a bit guilty for leaving it there, but it was on the AT and I'm guessing the AMC eventually took care of it. I've also skipped over things like rotten food in the past.

I guess if it grosses me out enough, I tend to skip it. That of course begs the question of who else is going to pick it up. I don't know, maybe I should carry some latex gloves into the backcountry.

James Patsalides
( - MLife

Locale: New England
Trash in the woods on 11/19/2009 13:13:41 MST Print View

Hey Ed!

You're not the only one! I hauled out a 12 pack of empty beer bottles in a (very wet) cardboard box 3 miles down from the Shenipsit trail in Connecticut last weekend. Never had to pack out a diaper, but I guess I would do it - I'd have to use something other than my OPSAK, though!

You know, people throw their dunkin donuts cups / McD's wrappers / cigarette packets etc on my front yard right in town, so I don't really expect them to be any cleaner on the trail... I would probably be more willing to TELL someone to pick up their sh1t on the trail than I would in town, local cops might be upset if I used bear spray on a litter-bug!

Jeff Antig

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Trash in the woods on 11/19/2009 13:13:42 MST Print View

Every Sunday I day hike into an area with a waterfall. Most of the people who go there are not backpackers or even hikers. They bring in food in ziplock bags and paper plates. I would always have the trash remains of several full course meals in my trash bag by the end of the day. It's such a disgrace that they would just throw plates and stuff on the ground.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Trash in the woods on 11/19/2009 13:48:12 MST Print View

I have also seen dirty diapers in the woods. On a similar note, Green Mountain Club caretakers tell me that the most common garbage left in composting toilets is underwear... apparently lots of people "don't make it" and figure that their underpants are okay to dump into the privies, despite the signs on all of them that say "human waste and toilet paper ONLY."

I feel the same frustration as the rest of you when I see stuff like that, though. It sucks for everyone. But I also don't pick up other people's dirty diapers. I rarely pick up the beer cans and tin foil I find everywhere either.

I've heard a lot of folks who work for trail clubs mention that it seems like people are more careless with trash than they were a decade or two ago. I don't know if that's accurate, or if there are just more people out there, or what. Seems like a few more of those "please carry out your garbage" signs might be useful in a lot of areas.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Packaging on 11/19/2009 14:07:08 MST Print View

If I had to guess (and it appears that I am), I'd guess it has to do with our american way of overpackaging just about everything. Damn near anything you buy in the stores now has 2 or 3 layers of packaging on it. Is it really any wonder that some of those pieces of plastic blow away or slip out of a pocket or whatever? It's not an excuse for the litterers, just sayin'...

I couldn't imagine what a person would think excuses them to leave a dirty diaper. I wouldn't pack that out, but I would be tempted to burn it in the campfire (albeit while I'm at a safe distance from that level of stink).

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Trash in the woods on 11/19/2009 14:11:01 MST Print View

I doubt more signs about carrying out trash would help. The kinds of people who would need a sign to tell them how to behave responsibly also seem to think they're exempt from the rules.

I pack out trash on every trip - everything from water bottles and beer cans to food wrappers to hair bands. Once we came upon a camping site that had a ripped up sleeping bag, a fireplace grill, an empty oil can, and a full case of bottled water. It was too overwhelming to deal with.

I must hike right under the jet stream a lot, because I find a lot of helium balloons, too, although others I know say they've never seen any.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: Trash in the woods on 11/19/2009 14:42:07 MST Print View

Man, Emigrant Wilderness must attract the slobs. We were there a couple months ago at a camp above Relief Reservoir where there was used TP sitting out and a fire left smoldering. I ended up collecting the TP and burned it.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 11/19/2009 15:03:04 MST Print View


Edited by DaveT on 06/16/2015 22:31:12 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Trash in the woods on 11/19/2009 15:25:34 MST Print View

When my son was little I had a system to pack out his diapers using the stretch cord system on my pack and gallon freezer bags. Works well, stench is sealed decently and outside of the pack.

Be hard for me to pack someone elses diapers though, unless I had that set up with me - and a glove to pick it up with!

Ed Collyer
(ecollyer) - F

Locale: East Bay Area
Doing our part on 11/19/2009 17:21:18 MST Print View

It seems to me that no matter how many signs you put, people will look the other way if it convenient. We, as responsible stewards of our public lands, can just pick up what trash we find and hopefully other people see you do it and follow suit.

example: I was at a trailhead off of a major road (read: lots of people stopping to use the restroom and the river) and spotted extreme amounts of trash and broken glass RIGHT NEXT TO THE GARBAGE CAN! There was also trash within 300 yds from the parking lot. Well I started to pick up trash and a couple who was stopped actually started helping. LEAD BY EXAMPLE!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: balloons on 11/19/2009 18:28:38 MST Print View

"Anyway, I hate them"

+ fr*&king 100!!

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Doing our part on 11/19/2009 20:22:15 MST Print View

"We, as responsible stewards of our public lands, can just pick up what trash we find and hopefully other people see you do it and follow suit"

Agreed. Which is why I acknowledge how lame I am whenever I pass garbage on the trail without picking it up.

My mention of carry-in, carry-out signs is mostly because on the AT in many places I think people really don't realize the trash problem they're creating-- especially with trail magic. I've seen several areas where people have left trail magic at shelters or trailheads with no thought about how the trash will be taken care of, and it just sits there until someone decides to pack out an entire garbage bag full of soda cans or rotting hot dogs or whatever. Trail magic is fine... leaving garbage heaps is not.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Doing our part on 11/19/2009 20:40:30 MST Print View

Like most others here I pick up trash where I see it and will generally take it to the campsite with me and throw it in the fire, making sure it burns completely. I burn it because I hate the thought of carrying someone elses trash longer than I have to.


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Trash in the woods on 11/20/2009 03:11:50 MST Print View

"I'd guess it has to do with our american way of overpackaging just about everything."
Au contraire...
On our two walks in WA (a bit of the PCT and one in the Olympics) I (in particular) was very impressed with how clean the trails were, in fact I could only find in the first few days two or three corners.
(maybe people should learn how to open a packet without tearing the corner)
As a comparison in Nepal there was rubbish of that type (wrappers,bits of paper) all over the established trails. Off trail it was clean, the shepherd are too poor to afford wrapped "food".
Here in Australia we have less wrappers but plenty of toilet paper and cans and bottles. People go in a few miles and then they have a BBQ and that means lots of drinking and who cares about whats left behind.
But just one bit of introduced rubbish can spoil my day.
I have given up picking up rubbish on the trail but i do clean up at camp .

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Party zone on 11/20/2009 03:43:31 MST Print View

Here in "Ahia" (Ohio to you out-of-staters), folks tend to use the fire pits and campsites along our and national-forest trails as party zones, especially during hunting season. I have found everything from MRE containers (very common) to Bud Lite cans to diapers to (choke) used condoms around or thrown into the fire pits.

I try to pack out as much as I can, but condoms and used hypodermic needles (yes, no kidding) are just a bit beyond me. Do folks think that the fire will consume an aluminum food wrapper without sending aluminum vapor into the air around them?

And what is it about Bud Lite that makes it the Breakfast of Champion litterers the world over.

The one that sends shivers up my spine is the plethora of spent shotgun shells, however. National forests have an anything goes, "multi-use" policy, but these folks are not supposed to be shooting on or near the backpacking trails. I have a large collection of these. I keep them to remind me why I need to keep yelling "hiker on the trail" as I round blind curves at Wildcat Hollow, Ohio's "most popular backpacking trail" according to B@ckp@cker magazine (censoring out the work in questionable taste). ;-D


Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
One more on 11/20/2009 04:50:00 MST Print View

Recently at Wildcat Hollow, I happened upon a complete tent. The zipper had stuck, so the camper(s) had hacked their way out of the tent slasher style and just left it there, complete with a couple of gallons of bottled water and other trash, including the ubiquitous Bud Lite cans, which were the only empty item of the lot. (The tent was filled with trash.)

The tent was a dog, of course -- one of those big "car campin'" things. I carried out the Bud Lite cans, but the tent weighed more than my whole kit. (Do people still say "kit"?)


Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Trash in the woods on 11/20/2009 05:16:24 MST Print View

On the FootHills trail in SC.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Trash in the woods on 11/20/2009 06:16:52 MST Print View

When I hiked the JMT in '08, I was impressed with how clean the trail and camping areas were. I saw virtually no trash other than near the roads at Tuolumne Meadows and Red's Meadow and darn little there. I suspect that if you are near the roads, the "Bud Lite" brigade will have enough energy to haul their trash in a few miles. But, most of them are hauling enough adipose tissue that 2-3 miles is as far as they'll get.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Trash in the woods on 11/20/2009 09:58:41 MST Print View

There is a guy here locally that has gotten work parties together a number of times to clean up lakes - often ones that have no "official" trail (an old bermed road maybe, a boot path) but that are popular with partying types.

On one this summer they even had a float plane group come in to haul out the big stuff - how cool was that? We are talking a metal contractor bin, rafts, etc. The newsfolk even came for that one (on a float plane)