Have you been for a walk in the woods recently? I sure hope so, or maybe you’ve floated down the river…camped…gone out berry picking. There is so much to explore and do in the woods/nature this time of year, and really all times of year. Northern Michigan forests are full of beauty, wonder, and surprises during all seasons! One of those surprises though may be the amount of trash along trails and streams. Less beauty and more wonder there (as in “that’s a real thinker”).
The past week+ has been prime for outdoor sports as we enjoy an extension of summer weather (odd, just two weeks ago I was ready to embrace the cool weather, pre-fall…funny how that works) and I was lucky enough to do a little kayaking recently. I was not so lucky to find an abundance of trash. **insert super-duper sad face here** As a kid who grew up not in the city, but not immersed in outdoor recreation, I was naive enough to always believe that nature was just that–natural, nothing added. Also, we were taught that you put things back the way you found them or better. It is surprising, then, to find trash in the woods, because you know the trees didn’t put it there…so someone(s) has forgotten their golden rules. Respect, treating others as you wish to be treated, etc. I doubt the trees, wildlife, fish, lichens (because they are a separate group too) and others appreciate garbage left in their homes. Maybe golden rules are “old-fashioned” now…I really don’t see why they would be though. It seems common courtesy to follow simple guidelines: I like this stream/trail/camping spot therefore I will take care of it so that when I return it is as magical as the first time I came here. Being stewards of our natural resources should never go out of style and can never be replaced by technology–it’s up to you and me and everyone else to be chivalrous to Mother Nature.
Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics organization with easy to remember guidelines about how and why we return our fun weekend spot to the state it was before we arrived. They have also enlisted Bigfoot as their mascot…if they could ever find him! That is really the point–who doesn’t want to be as cool and elusive as Bigfoot? I guess it’s not the whole point, but it could be a fun game with your kids: who can be the least traceable on your camping trip, your hike, your float? Maybe Bigfoot is too Northwestern and you are more familiar with Dogman…the reported, yet elusive “bigfoot” of the northwestern quadrant of Michigan. Never heard of or seen Dogman? Perhaps more of these creatures that leave no trace of themselves exist…and maybe you can join their legendary ranks. Will you accept the challenge?