Beginning in March 2015, a Granite Gear sponsored team, consisting of thru-hikers Goose, Cap and Spice, set to conquer the Appalachian Trail in a new and different way. The trail has been traversed time and time again, but the Granite Gear crew had the goal in mind of collecting strewn trash along the way.
Five months and 2,190 miles later, the three friends successfully packed out 1,090 pounds of trail trash.
The three thu-hikers completed the Appalachian Trail trash pickup as a Pack it Out project. Those familiar with the outdoor etiquette of Leave No Trace will easily understand the mission of Pack it Out: “To Inspire a greater sense of environmental stewardship without our communities by raising awareness for litter conditions along America’s trails.” Although stemming from the concept of Leave No Trace, Pack it Out focuses on collecting trash debris that has been left behind to clog the natural beauty of popular trails.
“To clean up, walk along and live on one of America’s greatest trails has been the most amazing experience,” said Seth “Cap” Orme, founder of Packing it Out. “Achieving our goal to inspire others and raise awareness created a huge sense of accomplishment among the Packing it Out crew. To feel completely alive and to do what you’re passionate about every single day is the greatest triumph I can think of. ”
In order to remove as much waste as possible, the team carried extra heavy duty trash bags and extra cordage to accommodate larger items, such as rotting mattresses. During the hike, it was common for the team to carry trash for up to 4 days before finding a receptacle. Other passerby hikers lent a hand by disposing of garbage at trail heads.
“I can’t recall a single time that someone denied taking the trash away,” says Orme. “We can’t express how thankful we are for the help of strangers.”
The extra weight of packing out trash did, however, take a physical toll on the bodies of the team. Spice was forced to end the thru-hike 300 miles early due to injury.
After much needed rest and recovery, the team plans to continue Packing it Out on smaller trails, until their big 2016 PCT project.