Leave no trace… or else.

Originally posted on July 25, 2010 at 4:30 PM

I’m calling you out, jerk. That’s right. You know who you are. I hope your face is burning with disgrace.

What kind of person goes into the wilderness and harms it? I would like to know why someone would make a campfire and then throw glass bottles into it, shattering them into tiny pieces that stick in the earth’s soil like a thorn in the soft paw of a wild fox? Why bother traveling hundreds maybe thousands of miles to get away from other humans and then leave trash behind? Have you no respect? Have you no shame? These people disgust me.

Nothing in this world makes me quite as furious as intentional littering. Lazy littering. It is one of the only things—one of the only groups of people—that I would honestly say I hate. I hate litterbugs.

The first night we arrived, we drove to the top of a mountain to camp. Being well-learned and well-intended, we found a previously created campsite in wonderful seclusion nestled in the sky-scraping pines of the Uncompahgre wilderness. What at first glance we saw as a beautiful campsite soon revealed itself as scarred. Hunters, based on the bullet casings littering the earth, had camped there previously and left their mark. Although someone before them had already picked a fine place for a campfire, they chose to make not one, but two new—and HUGE—campfire rings. This is a no no.

Not only that, but they threw trash into their fire that could not burn. Beer bottles & caps, aluminum cans, random metal things, and more. And around the rest of the campsite, they scattered such lovely human remains as Monistat boxes, anti-diarrheal pills still in the individually-wrapped packages, tent stakes, remains of tarps, shoe laces, rope, more broken glass, screws, plastic, and so much more. Also, they had dragged enormous tree-trunks into a pile in the middle of the ground and left them there.

Did you know that a single cigarette butt can remain for 25 years? That it takes a million years for a glass bottle to decompose? That plastic will NEVER break down?

Of course, we cleaned it all up as much as we could. But there were tiny pieces of glass that we couldn’t fish from the ashes, and certainly other items had already worked down into the dirt. Haven’t they ever heard, “Take only pictures; leave only footprints”? Didn’t their mother ever tell them, “Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it”? These people didn’t even try. They didn’t give a shit. It makes me so mad I tear up. Why? Why do they not care?

This is perhaps a negative way to start the blogs about our rather wonderful vacation, but if you were to go to this place, if you were to witness the awe and beauty of a land so wild and lovely that it makes your heart ache, you would be protective, too. Lake City and the surrounding San Juan Mountains are my favorite place in the entire world. It is perfection where nature meets people. It is the best vacation spot I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been blessed enough to see some amazing places (Ireland, Italy, Germany, Hawaii, Austria, Paris, Amsterdam, Mexico, the Bahamas, California, Oregon, Louisiana…;), and I want it to stay that way. I want my children to be able to enjoy it, too. So take the minimal effort to throw your bottles in the trash, asshole. And so help me God, if I see you toss a cigarette butt out the window, you can bet your butt I’m calling the cops on your license plate.

So educate yourself, bitches.

Happier vacation blogs to come.

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