6 Organizations Hiker-Trash Should Be Supporting
Last month, I found myself wandering the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, UT in search of some amazing organizations that exist to enrich, protect, and advocated for what we love here at The Trek: the trail, the lands that surround it, and our (the people) outdoors experience. Supporting the conservation, protection, and maintenance of lands and wilderness areas through which our beloved long trails pass through is an important topic. The following organizations are just small sample of people out there that care about your wilderness experience. If you’re hiker trash, consider spending or donating your next bit of couch loot to the following organizations and companies dedicated to loving the land (probably more than we give them credit for), and put your money where your mouth (and hiker stomach) is.
The CDTC is a group of some of the most wonderful humans who love the CDT corridor, and they love the hikers that walk the CDT. They are a group who are committed to building a trail community. They bring awareness to the towns along the CDT, creating gateway communities, so that people know who you are when you walk through and are willing to help you out. The CDTC works hard to acquire land to bring the trail off the road and onto the land. I mean, just this year, they were able to purchase over 5,000 acres of land to pull the trail off-road and onto fresh trail–to be walked by all you future CDT hikers! All of this is enough to make the trail-lovers heart just swoon. Consider donating to the CDTC here.
Please note, that almost every national scenic or long trail has an accompanying (amazing) organization overseeing it. I have personally spoken with people from several of these organizations, and they are truly passionate about the trails they work for. What national scenic trail or long trail is near and dear to your heart? Look them up! Support your local trail organizations! Ever wonder why a long trail even exists? IT’S BECAUSE OF THESE PEOPLE!
- Pacific Crest Trail Association
- Oregon Desert Trail Association
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy
- Ice Age Trail Alliance
- Pacific Northwest Trail Association
- Arizona Trail Association
- Florida Trail Association
- North Country Trail Association
If you call yourself a hiker, and don’t know about the American Hiking Society (AHS), it’s time to fix that. AHS was one of the first national organizations that was specifically formed for and by hikers. You know National Trails Day–yeah, that’s AHS. You know know when Washington peeps want to put bills through congress that affect the public lands that long trails pass through? These guys are one of the biggest advocators for those trails and land. And let us not forget to mention the amazing emphasis that AHS gives on giving back to the land, in the form of volunteer trail work, donated by thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of trail volunteers! Become a member!
Leave No Trace. Familiarize yourself with that phrase, and ingrain it into your hiker head for the rest of your life! As long trails gain popularity, so does the need for education about how to take care of the land we use when we recreate. LNT principals are adopted (both officially and unofficially) by most outdoor organizations and for good reason. There’s nothing that can quite sour a hiking experience than seeing a previous hiker’s trash (especially when you know it’s Hiker Trash–yeah I’m looking at you mr. poptart wrapper…) or tissue blooms (gross) along the way. Be an LNT champion! Pack out that trash! Bury that poop! Be aware of critters and other (rather large) creatures that may be interested in what you brought along with you! It’s what alllll the cool kids are doing. Learn more about Leave No Trace and donate here.
Okay, so I didn’t actually talk to these guys at OR, but I sought them out and got some more information on them because I thought they were so freaking cool. They are a group of folks in love with human-powered adventures who are also dedicated to making sure the lands they enjoy stay available to us–the public–to enjoy and use freely. They’re not just about land preservation either–they’re about trail preservation and recreational use preservation–making these a part of managing the land. Check this beautiful video out–but warning, it may make you tear up. They also began the website protectourpublicland.org and have partnered with a ton of outdoor companies and concerned citizens to join the fight in protecting our public lands. Go here to learn more about protecting the lands you walk on.
There needs to be more programs out there, like Outdoor Outreach, that strive to bring the experience of the outdoors to at-risk youth through mentoring and leadership training. 1 in 4 of OO participants is an immigrant or refugee. Others are kids who are dealing with different forms of abuse, poverty, and many come from areas where access to the outdoors is non-existent. Fun fact: over half of OO’s mentors are former participants! You can donate to the program here, and if you live in and around the San Diego Area, consider putting your thru-hiking knowledge to good use and volunteer!
Here are some other awesome programs like OO that are bringing the outdoor experience to at-risk youth: Great Outdoor Adventure Trips (GOAT) and SheJumps. Do you know of any in your area? Consider looking them up!
I had the awesome pleasure of hiking along side several participants of Warrior Expeditions on the CDT this year. Through WE, veterans have the time and space to decompress from their experiences while on active duty. Along with the outdoor experience (and not just long trails, but long distance biking and paddling too!), veterans experience the camaraderie of walking with other veterans and community engagement through meeting with veteran organizations along the trail. Check it out here. Consider supporting here.
What are the organizations and companies you’ve heard of or support that hiker trash should know about?
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