“After campers left garbage strewn across one of the Appalachian Trail’s most popular sites, guides, educators, and social media influencers ponder how we can do better.”
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Low Hanging Fruit
I looked this up on the map. I see Max Patch does indeed have a road right next to it, so I guess it’s a place with a great view only a half mile walk like it said. There is a small parking lot that could hold maybe 18 cars, best guess. I bet there were lots of cars lined up on the road a long way because that is a shitload of tents there.
Who Was It?
I think lots of these people just wanted to get outdoors to a neat spot and you have lots of people that either are new to camping or have car camped before in places that have toilets, trash cans, water supply, managers taking care of the campground, etc. Another article said a bunch were college students from nearby colleges where they aren’t allowed to gather currently. Maybe there are even some music festival people there since those aren’t happening this year, or just other people wanting to party. They haven’t heard of Leave No Trace or any of the usual courtesies and rules that backpackers know. I’m not sure how you get those to them besides signs at the parking lot. I think people need to have these ideas bounce around in their heads a few times before they take hold. It helps tremendously if they broadly care about the outdoors. You wouldn’t leave a bunch of trash out if you 1. cared about the outdoors a bit, and 2. had a little courtesy toward other people… respect for either as well. Some of those people probably just didn’t think. Please think next time.
It sounds like a few people did a LOT of cleanup. Well done. “Braden organized a clean-up at Max Patch Friday, but it had largely been cleaned up already by random people who saw the Facebook post and took matters into their own hands.”
More People Getting Outdoors
But anyway, the other important bit is the general increased outdoor usage this year, which makes perfect sense with the pandemic ending other stuff. So this isn’t the only place affected. I knew people thought it would happen but I hadn’t seen any numbers until now. Also I think younger generations might be showing more interest in it. Plus social media has cool outdoor scenes everywhere. I really like seeing people enjoy the outdoors. Increased usage of the outdoors can definitely have some negative consequences as well though. “As social media influencers, when we post a picture of ourselves at sunrise with that cup of coffee, we aren’t showing people what we are doing with our trash,” Braden said. “If I am going to pack it in, I am going to pack it out.”