|Interactive Florida Trail map from the Florida Trail Association|
(Alt title: People are pigs)
Last week I spent the bulk of my Sunday volunteering with a trail maintenance crew on the Florida Trail.
Trail maintenance work is supposed to focus on keeping the path clear and well-marked with trail blazes (painted orange markers that let hikers know they're on the correct path). Trash removal should not be required. There should be no trash.
Unfortunately, as we cleared and chopped and painted our way along the trail, we saw beer can after beer can, candy wrapper after candy wrapper, peaking in what looked like a small landfill's-worth where the trail crossed a rural road near the Blackwater River.
There were old boots.
Dirty baby diapers.
Plastic takeout food containers and styrofoam cups.
Cardboard boxes and plastic bags.
It was a disaster.
Our work crew spent half an hour picking up litter. In that short time we filled two industrial-sized trash bags with junk. Smelly, foul junk. And there was plenty more trash around. Had we had the time to keep working, we could've filled a dumpster.
I cannot fathom how someone could think it is OK to leave their dirty baby diaper (3 dirty baby diapers) in the woods, or how someone could think it is OK to toss beer cans out the window of their car (doubly wrong because you'd have to be drunk-driving to aim your litter at this stretch of trail).
Sometimes people are pigs.
(Alt title: Sometimes people are awesome)
Despite all the trash, there are people who volunteer to clean it up. Events like International Coastal Cleanup Day get a great deal of publicity, but much of the volunteer work goes unnoticed.
Each week volunteers from the Florida Trail Association dedicate time and effort to maintaining the 1,400 miles of trial that stretch from the Panhandle to the Everglades. They make sure the trail is navigable, that signs, bridges, and other infrastructure are in good repair.
Many volunteers show up week after week, spending hours of their time and effort to protect this resource for others.
What are you ranting and raving about this week?