On 13 February this year I was invited by Blake Dyason, to join him on a LOVE OUR TRAILS Lions Head clean up initiative. Blake is not only an avid trail runner, but also one of the nicest, enthusiastic and caring people I know, with a love for this country and its people which is contagious.
LOVE OUR TRAILS is an international movement creating awareness and educating trail users about caring for our trails. The event was billed as a fun morning collecting litter and cleaning graffiti with like-minded people.
Like-minded people giving back to the trails!
Rubbish bags, gloves to collect litter & graffiti cleaner – for those who wanted to get a little dirtier – was supplied by the organisers.
Cleaning graffiti in Wally’s Cave
Participants could walk at their own pace, take their own route and leave when they wanted to, and young and old were invited, with free smoothies thrown in by the Fitchef.
So I decided to join, and got the family involved too, my wife Karien, 6yr old daughter Janke, and 3yr old son Christoff joining in, as well as my sister Joha & her husband Don. 8am we reported for duty, and were handed our Tuffy bags & gloves, and decided to tackle to a single track running parallel with the road heading towards Signal Hill, as it would be the easiest for the kids to handle.
Janke & Christoff (although I think he enjoyed the smoothie more) started down the trail like it was a race, picking up every piece of litter they could lay their little fingers on. Within an hour we collected 3 bags full of litter on a stretch of trail just over 1km in length.
Future trail stars having fun while cleaning the trails of Lions Head.
I could see the pride in my little ones eyes of what they were doing and being a part of, but then reality came back to leave a sour taste in our mouths. As we headed back to the start of the trail we were greeted by between 150-200 students from a well known university in the city, but this was where the politeness ended & the pollution started again. I could see my daughter fighting to hold back the tears, as we now had to re-clean the same stretch of trail we cleaned less than 30min prior, as these students just dropped their sweet wrappers, yogurt lids & cooldrink bottles as they walked.
Rubbish collected on the day!
It took us the whole trip back home to Somerset West to explain to her human behaviour as she tried to wrap her little head around what just happened. Although there was this 1 negative aspect of the day, the positive influence it had on my kids, especially my daughter would be lasting. Later that day as we walked into Somerset Mall to buy mom/wife a valentine’s gift for the next day, Janke asked me when we could come and clean/pick up rubbish at the mall, as just outside the main entrances litter was fluttering all over the place in the strong breeze.
On our next family outing on the beach 1 morning, Janke again asked when we could come and clean up the beach. Since that morning, every time we go to the beach, we take a refuge bag along and collect litter as a family.
My daughter has become so “green” that I can rest assured all unnecessary lights will be turned off in the house at night, she prefers to shower instead of bath now and any recyclable materials go straight into the recycle bin.
We love running trails, and trails is what defines us from road runners, and we would (if we could) lay claim to all of them, but our trails could do with some love!
We as a trail community need to step up and protect our trails for the next generation of trail runners & adventurers exploring the playground Mother Nature have given us.
So let’s lead by example. There are regular events hosted to clean certain trails, so join in, or why not create your own event with some friends on your favourite trail. I promise, you will walk back with a greater love for the trails & sport we do!
Why not start this Saturday? There is a TMNP & Newlands Forest cleanup at 8am. https://www.facebook.com/events/1281445975203465/
For more info on LOVE OUR TRAILS, check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/loveourtrails/?fref=nf