For over a year, I’ve spotted the same type of gum wrapper on the trail I frequent. The first few times I excused it as accidental, but the more I saw the trail of wrappers I started questioning how accidental are these droppings?
I pick them up every time—each and every one of them. It’s hard to run past trail trash and I strongly believe we are all accountable for keeping our wildplaces clean and pristine.
Yesterday I was out for a quick out-and-back run and saw a wrapper and felt my frustration building with each step. It’s incredibly hard to get my mind around how someone could purposefully be dropping wrappers. After over a year of seeing them nearly weekly, I’m making the assumption it’s moved beyond carelessness to full blown intentional.
As I was heading back I saw the gum box lying in the middle of the trail (empty of course) and it fueled my anger. With less than a mile or so to go, I visualized what he (yes, I’m assuming my wrapper dropper is a man) looked like. I’ll spare you the details, but I was hoping I’d run into him so I could confront him. What’s the worst that could happen, I thought? He could rudely dismiss me, outright deny it, perhaps punch me? The latter probably not very likely, but it did cross my mind. Unfortunately, I never saw my gum-chewing wrapper dropper.
As I was thinking about what I would say to him, the sun came out and I started to relax. I was able to take deep breaths for the first time and my anger turned to gratefulness—I was out on a beautiful day running with a happy calf. I suddenly became embarrassed I almost let gum ruin an otherwise blissful run. I was also ashamed I applied gender assumptions to my mysterious litterer.
My run ended in overall good spirits and with even more determination to do something about trail trash and encourage others to join me (stay tuned). Though, a warning to my wrapper dropper—I’ve put up a candy cam on the trail, so watch out!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen on the trail or during a run?
Let’s remember the principles of Leave No Trace and take home what we pack in and pick up any trash we see during our runs, hikes, and adventures.