Updated: Nov 13, 2018
While a good portion of our cross-country road trip is dedicated to travel, adventure, and living on a whim, we are on a mission to give back to the areas we are traveling through at least once a week. Our first day of service happened in Acadia National Park on Friday. My lovely friend and old co-worker Abby Sullivan works with the NPS in Acadia and since we were visiting the area, we asked her to get in touch with their volunteer coordinator to see what good we could do during our stint in the park. With their season coming to a close there wasn't much work to be done in regards to trail maintenance, but we were told we could help by picking up trash on the trails and in public areas around the park! To see our adventure first hand and learn a little more about keeping our parks clean, check out the video below!
There are 7 main principles of the Leave No Trace philosophy.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
The roots of LNT (Leave No Trace) originate from wilderness/backcountry adventures, but there are many that can be applied to all outdoor areas. The principle we focused on was disposing of waste properly.
We spent several hours out on trail and sweeping through heavily trafficked areas of the park. Overall, the park was surprisingly clean for the number of people utilizing the most popular sections along the famous Loop Road. This didn't stop us from filling our big trash bag up. Among the trash we found was food debris, broken glass, cotton swabs, bandaids, receipts, and plastic bags/bottles. Some of the messiest areas were actually beneath the trash cans, showing that maybe just a little more effort in disposing of trash can make a big difference.
We can also limit our impact by practicing more sustainable methods of hiking and recreating in National Parks. For example, instead of using plastic water bottles, use a reusable option like a Nalgene or a HydroFlask! Instead of using plastic straws, try using a reusable option like these ALINK stainless steel straws!
Overall, we had a blast exploring Acadia National Park! From driving the Loop Road with Abby as our guide, watching the sun rise atop Cadillac Mountain, to experiencing our first non-technical climbing trail to summit Mt. Champlain, our first National Park of the trip did not disappoint. Although a little bummed we were unable to donate our time in a more structured way, picking up trash was both rewarding and a learning experience.
Our next stop is going to be the DC Central Kitchen in Washington DC. Here we'll be helping to prepare meals to be delivered to halfway houses, homeless shelters, and after school programs. If you want to help us make a bigger impact as we go, check out our GoFundMe page.
Adventure comes to those who GO!