We Are 2019 Granite Gear Grounds Keepers!

We have an exciting announcement to make, the Zen Travellers are 2019 Granite Gear Grounds Keepers!

What is the Granite Gear Grounds Keepers Program?

The program was started in 2017 by the Minnesota based outdoor gear company called Granite Gear. The company partners with eco-conscious outdoor enthusiasts to clean up trails and parks around the world. Since its inception, Grounds Keepers have removed 4,985.35 pounds of trash from trails and parks around the USA and the world. For 2019, waterways and lakes will also be cleaned up while the Grounds Keepers enjoy their favourite paddles. So far, Grounds Keepers have cleared over 100 pounds of trash from trails which is a pretty amazing feat considering many are still snow-covered.

This sounded like a program that the Zen Travellers could easily get behind, so Thea submitted an application and was accepted into the program. Philip will be picking up trash alongside her to double the impact!

 

Hiking in Kananaskis Country
Thea Hiking at Northover Ridge at home in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

How it Works?

It’s pretty simple, Granite Gear and its partners, Altra Running, Klean Kanteen, Backpacker’s Bistro, Recover Brands, and Kula Cloth have provided the tools that the Grounds Keepers will need to pick up waste along their favourite trails and waterways. It’s a little complicated for us since we’re travelling and will not be able to pick up our tools until we arrive back in North America, but we are committed to leaving the trails we’re hiking on our 14 month trip around the world better than we have found them. For more information about the program you can visit https://www.thegroundskeepers.org

What Trails Will We Clean?

So far during our trip we have removed 20 (!!!) plastic water bottles from a 20 minute jungle hike in Parque Machia, Bolivia, carried plastic with us out of the ocean while we’ve SCUBA dived and snorkeled, and cleared up any trash that we could along our many amazing multi-day hikes in Bolivia, Peru, and Patagonia since we left Canada in May 2018.

Hiking in Patagonia
Philip Hiking the “O” trek in Patagonia

Now as official 2019 Granite Gear Grounds Keepers, we have our sights set on thru-hiking the Lycian Way in Turkey starting in March. The 540km/335 mile trail spans the southern Turkey coast past ancient ruins, over mountains, and through pastoral villages. We might have some difficulty calculating the total weight of trash we’ve collected, but we’ll see if we can pick up a small scale in Istanbul. This will be our longest trek to date so wish us luck!

From there, we hope to make our way to Nepal where we will trek in the Himalaya, continuing to collect trash and raise awareness about responsible tourism along the way.

While we had hoped to thru-hike the Colorado Trail during this trip in 2018, sections of it were closed due to forest fires so we thought we might have better luck the following year. Also, we were liking South America so much that we didn’t really want to leave!

Although we are still keen to hike the Colorado trail, we did get to do some amazing hikes in South America as a consolation prize.  For instance, without cancelling our plans to hike the Colorado trail we never would have fit in our 8 day trek through the Cordillera Real in Bolivia.

Zentravellers at the summit of Huayna Potosi
Zen Travellers the Summit of Huayna Potosi in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real

Unfortunately, the snowpack in the Colorado Rockies is insane this year and we sadly must return to work in mid-July so we will not be able to complete the entire Colorado trail.  We are hoping to at least be able to hike the first few sections but we will have to play it by ear.

Once we return to Canada, we will be back in our beloved Canadian Rockies where we will carry on “plogging” on the trails around home.

Why be a Grounds Keeper?

As avid travellers and hikers, we are committed to responsible tourism so that we can continue to enjoy natural spaces both at home and abroad for years to come. Unfortunately, we have seen some of the most beautiful places in the world sullied by trash and it needs to stop.

While travelling both in Canada and around the world, we have unfortunately seen a lot of waste disposed of poorly.  For instance, the trail to Machu Picchu coming down from Salkantay Pass or from Hidroelectrica is covered in plastic drink bottles; a backcountry campground in Jasper National Park was turned into trash heap with toilet paper left hanging off shrubs and food waste left behind in bear country; and waves of garbage lined the otherwise picturesque coastline of Saint-Louis, in Senegal.

Garbage in St Louis Senegal
Devastating amounts of garbage along the coast of St Louis

Keeping the places we love clean is everyone who visits’ responsibility but we understand that some places may need more attention than others, and that is especially true in the wild spaces. We are so fortunate to have access to beautiful trails in a world where they’re at risk of disappearing. Our dream is to see the trails, parks, and waterways of the world preserved for the enjoyment of others for years to come.

We are also outdoor gear nerds and are super excited to try some of the cutting-edge products made by Granite Gear and its partners.

Follow our Granite Gear Grounds Keepers Journey

You can follow us on Instagram at our handle @zentravellers and/or subscribe to our blog using the form below.

Follow our Journey!

You can also read about the other Grounds Keepers by following @GraniteGear and searching the #TheGroundsKeepers and #GroundsKeeper4Life on Instagram.

Hiking in Jasper National Park
See you on the trails!

 

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