What It Feels Like to Clean Up My Local Wilderness - As Told by a Wild Keeper

What It Feels Like to Clean Up My Local Wilderness - As Told by a Wild Keeper

Cleaning up my local wilderness has brought me endless joy. I spend a few days a week out on the trail and it has always been so discouraging to see the litter thrown into some of the world’s most beautiful places. If you’ve never experienced it for yourself, let’s take a trip down a memory of mine that happened just a month ago…

Like many others, the hike to Havasu Falls was on my bucket list. I made my reservation and was amped to have the opportunity to visit the falls after my first try to get a reservation. We arrived at the trailhead and began to make our way into the canyon when BOOM trash was everywhere! To my left I saw an empty can of Pringles. I sigh, picked up the can, and moved forward. 

As we neared the village, it’s was obvious that many people were getting tired. Snack wrappers, aluminum cans, and everything in between had been thrown this way and that. 

Havasupai is a permit-only trail, meaning that the people who paid good money to visit this place were also the ones destroying it. 

I was bummed out. I couldn’t imagine thoughtlessly leaving trash in this area. As I tried to collect my thoughts, I made a vow to come back the next day on our way out and clean up the mess left behind by others. 

My trip to Havasu Falls was one that will be hard to be contested. But seeing people disregard packing out the trash they brought in made it hard not to feel frustrated on the trail. The day we headed out of Supai, I decided to make my first Impact Day with my Wild Keepers to make sure we could make the biggest impact to our state as possible. 

Because of the Wild Keeper program, I have become more proactive in my cleanups every time I hit the trail. It’s given me a sense of pride to hike my favorite trails and see that I have made a difference. I’ve met people from all over who offer to help pick up trash with me. I bring extra trash bags on hikes in case I find litter somewhere unexpected. 

Being a Wild Keeper has made me more aware of the world we live in, how we treat it, and how easily we can all make a difference even if it’s small. Cleaning up my local area feels good, does good, and keeps it wild. 


This blog was thoughtfully written by Erin Maxson. You can find her on Instagram @withdogshetravels.

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