Monday, May 16, 2011

Swatting the litterbug.

Written by Adam
On May 8th, we visited a state park with plenty of potential for a great hiking experience. This was our second go at this park, where a previous trip included fireworks and blasting music from a nearby picnic. Hopefully this trip would be more... sedate.

Located along the banks of a vigorous river, the park boasts easy fishing access and day camp sites. Popular with the locals, the park offers well maintained trails and lovely forest settings. Spartan facilities include rather dubious outhouses (not port-a-lets, actual outhouses) and grill grates for barbequing. 

Venture out of the main park area onto the trails and you are greeted with a beautiful arboreal setting. Recent bridge additions allow easy crossing of the mossy streams that flow down the hillside into the main river. As the trail follows the river, access points allow rock-hopping to midstream without wet feet. The sun broke through a few times to illuminate the river in areas with a pleasing effect. 

Overall the air temperature was comfortable for hiking, and the mosquitoes had yet to arrive in significant numbers. The trail was well marked, relatively flat and enjoyable - an easy hike for all ages. 

All seemed well with the world.


Then we started to come across garbage. Everywhere. 

It feels like there is a litter epidemic. I harken back to the old public service announcement of the Native American with the tear running down his cheek

Littering isn't my thing, and I have trouble finding compassion for anyone who does. It really is inexcusable and without defense. On this particular day, we hauled out other people's beer cans, the remains of a car battery, broken glass and fishing line (fishing line is devastating to wildlife).

Next, we encountered someone who let his dogs run free. 

The Department of Environmental Protection  requires that owners keep their dogs leashed in state parks, but Skippy (the human, not the pup) decided this did not apply to him. Instead of controlling his animals, we had to keep them away from our dog with force. So much could have gone wrong here - dog fight, dog bites, quarantine, hospitalization, lawsuits - the list goes on. 

Maybe he was picking up trash, too, and could not hold the leash and the garbage bag at the same time.

In the end, the hiking was a pleasant surprise, despite the  evidence of careless human activity and overuse. It is a state park with plenty of natural beauty, but extremely over used. We'll do our part (and let nature rest) by not returning to this spot in the future.

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