leave no trace

As someone who has thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors since childhood, it’s no surprise that I get involved in a lot of hobbies that take me into nature… Mountain biking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, off roading with my Jeep…I follow all sorts of individuals involved in these hobbies on Instagram, but not so much on Facebook.  However,  In the past few months I have mingled into a few different Facebook groups for Jeepers.  I have meet a lot of individuals from the local club and a club out of Chicago; I’ve enjoyed outings with both groups and made some new friends.

All of this is great and some of the advise is wonderful, but with the good comes the bad.  Most of it, trivial dumb stuff, whatever keep scrolling.  However lately there has been one that just urks me.  Tearing up trails.  So this is where I climb on my soap box and start a verbal vomit of a rant.


Mountain bikers, hikers and campers all thoroughly believe in leave no trace.  Not just pick up your own garbage, but don’t tear the area up.  Most mountain bikers believe if the trail is too soggy, you don’t ride.  Yes a little mud is fun, but if you are leaving serious imprints of your tires or digging up the trail, you are doing harm.  It can change the drainage, then causing harm by speeding up erosion. In fact a quick google and you can find all kinds of articles about mountain bikers and not not riding in “soggy” conditions.

I know personally, that the Michigan Mountain Bikers Association actually does go out and conduct trail maintenance, usually the beginning of the season (late winter/early spring).  However, when people are careless and tear up a trail, do you think they come behind you and fix it?  No.  Well the same goes for off roading.  When you bury multiple rigs in a two track trail, who do you think comes behind you and fixes this?  Because I seriously doubt the ones who tore it up are.

Damaging a trail, in the sense that I am talking about only speeds up erosion and damages the ecosystem.  Which then can spiral into a whole mess of problems.  Do you ever wonder why the forest cops are such assholes at times?  Did you ever stop to think that they came upon the mess you created with zero regard for those that might come behind you?  With zero regard for generations to come that might want to enjoy the same beauty of the outdoors that we are enjoying today?  No.  Your selfish self was caught up in the crowd mentality.

A 2013 article from MLive about illegal or rouge ORV riding:
Playing rough: Illegal ORV use overwhelms law enforcement and restoration efforts

“We put things up and they get torn down,” said Diane Walker, assistant ranger for the forest’s Baldwin ranger district. “They have this beautiful national forest outside their doors and I don’t know why people think it’s OK to go outside and tear it up.”

Tear it up, indeed. I visited recently with forest staff and toured one of the more extreme ORV damage areas in the southern part of the forest. It’s near the Cedar Creek Motorsports Area, a designated 24-mile single-track trail for quads, motorcycles and smaller ORVs.

The vandalism and landscape damage was not on the ORV trail. It was on areas adjacent to the trail. Cedar Creek is the southern-most trail in the forest, the closest for riders from Indiana, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Muskegon and other areas.

Riders have been going off-trail and created a web of illegal trails, deeply eroded hill climbs and denuded valleys where entire forest bowls have scrubbed of vegetation by spinning wheels, and left as barren sand.

I am rarely speechless about these kinds of things. And that wasn’t the case this day, but I was astounded by the extent of the damage and found myself resorting to simple, one syllable exclamations under my breath.

What a disappointment.

In 2013, “The Baldwin Ranger district now spends $50,000 to 75,000 on average each year to fix ORV damaged areas, using its own money and state grants.”  50 to 75K a year!! To fix the damage caused by people being assholes!  Seriously, for what a handful of laughs about how bad you tore up the trail and a few Facebook or Instagram pictures?  Wow.  …and this article mainly only talks about those who go off trail.

I find it funny.  Mountain bikers get annoyed at hikers on their trail, ‘hiking’ in the wrong directions -yes, there is a directions, you always hike against the riders and you yield the damn right of way to the riders.  Hikers might get annoyed at less considerate riders for tearing up a trail, it does happen.  However it seems this impact is far less than what I have seen in the off-roading community in just the past few short months of summer.  Plus multiple studies have shown that hikers and mountain bikers do the same amount of ‘damage,’ which pales in comparison to equestrian riders.  Really didn’t expect that, but makes sense.

Anyway . . .

No one likes to come up on this beautiful forest area only to find the ground has been absolutely trashed by a handful of gearheads with no regard for anyone else using the area.  In fact it makes me extremely sad to see the recent sputs of posts on social media basically boasting about how bad they got stuck, not just one rig…that is going to happen; but in the posts (yes there was multiple from the same trip) it appears every driver got stuck.

This tells me two things, 1. No one recon’ed the trail to see if it was a good idea and if you did you’re an asshole who didn’t care about the damage you did.  2. The entire group was a handful of immature and non-caring drivers.

Now yes, there are going to be times and plenty of trail rides that trail damage is unavoidable.  It happens.  However, if everyone in your party is getting stuck in multiple locations, and absolutely obliterating the trail leaving track marks deep enough that a quad wouldn’t even consider that route… Well.  Your group qualifies as the ones I’m ranting about…frankly if this offends you, it probably means you are guilty of this….then I’m definitely talking about you.

People, there are off road parks, controlled areas specifically designed for this.  Take your rig there, stop being a tight wad with your pocket book and go to Badlands or such places like that.  Or simply wait until the trail isn’t so soggy.

 

The Seven Leave No Trace Principles
  • Plan ahead and prepare.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.
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Zombie Jesus day

Let me start by saying I do not celebrate Easter, Passover, Yom Kippur, or any other of these types…hell I don’t even celebrate Christmas, I think proof of that is the fact that I spent it solo snowshoeing.


To me, today is just another beautiful day that I woke up on the right side of the daises.  Usually, Easter in Michigan, it either snows or it’s pouring cold rain.  However, this year being the end of April and with a very weird winter followed by the early arrival of spring… I have two trees blooming their bright green leaves.  My lilies are several inches above the dirt and I fully expect to see their flowers in the next two, three weeks.  Last weekend it was a glorious mid seventy degrees, yesterday it was eighty.  These weekend temperatures keep up and I’m going to have o put in the ac window unit early.  Heck, I was able to pull my Jeep doors yesterday, in APRIL!!  I truly believe this is the earliest I have every been able to pull the doors.  Last year I may have gotten them off by the end of May, but most years it is the first or second weekend in June.  This weather is absolutely wonderful!!

Last month, month and a half, life has been a bit hectic, a bit stressful; but after last Sunday’s mental and physically cleansing; late that night I felt a bit of relief, ok actually a lot of relief, I felt a dark spot from my soul lift.  This week at work, I was able to get a week of vacation approved by my supervisor and I will be spending my birthday next month visiting my boyfriend… which, with everything going on at work, I am super excited to be able to get away in the midst of everything going on. Yesterday, pulling the doors off the Jeep, first thing in the morning, buying new luggage for my trip and running errands with a doorless Jeep at 80 degrees…its just good for the soul.  This morning I woke up to the smell of wet dirt from open windows and Nora Jones softly playing from the speaker in my bedroom.

This morning, this morning is a good morning, a very good morning…. There is just something about the full arrival of spring in the mitten state that is an absolute glorious feeling.  Even though our winter this year was no where near it’s normal abrasive brutality.  There is still something about the trees coming back to life, flowers growing and blooming, even seeing the first of the bees and bumble bees.  It makes my heart happy and fills my soul.

My “de-clutter project” is no where near the state I had hoped it would be by this time.  However the past three weekends I have made good progress.  Tackling the garage alone, was a huge step.  That was an almost all day project too.  Inside the house, I have taken to the theory of setting the kitchen timer for 30-45 minutes and just going after one room.  When the timer expires, I can stop, take a break or finish whatever I am on.  So far, this theory has worked better than any others I have attempted.  No, it doesn’t finalize that section or that room, not by a long shot.  What I have learned is that over the past seven years, I have been extremely good at organizing my physical baggage…which lets face facts, that translates to how well I have organized and hidden mental baggage.  By dealing with these physical things, I am efficiently decluttering and getting rid of the mental too.  It’s a good feeling, no, it’s a great and freeing feeling.

 

So now, it’s time to tackle another 30-45 minutes of the house; but first, more coffee…

one sunny Sunday in April

Amongst the damp and darkness of my garage this was growing…

This was a text message I sent a girlfriend this afternoon, but I couldn’t help but think how symbolic. All this, all this junk I’m trying to cut, things with memories that drag me down and keep me from moving forward.  To find a lily growing out of the darkness.

But let me back up.

Last night I decided I was going to tackle my garage, I would spend the day digging into it and sorting it.  This is a project I have been dreading for a long time…  It’s not just that it needed to be cleaned, I had packed things in there when I first moved here back in December of 2010 and not touched them since.  I was dreading those things.

Well, I woke up this morning feeling like I got a decent night’s sleep -amazing what not waking up to an alarm clock can do for one’s soul.  So a pot of coffee later, two slices of left over pizza and cracking open a monster energy drink, I tossed on jeans and a tshirt, weaved my earbuds under my shirt up my back and stuck my phone in my back pocket.  Took a deep breath and flung open my garage.  Here we go….

An hour or two in, I had unloaded the side of the garage that was entirely packed with junk.  I had three piles going, keep, recycle and donate… and one very large black garbage bag -ok, I filled two.  About this time, one neighbor greeted me in his pajamas -did I mention I started at like 8:30-9 am? Briefly chatted with my neighbor how it was time I cut my mental baggage…and if he knew of anyone who wanted a 6 chair dining room table, they just had to come haul it off.  He said how his daughter might be interested and how he’d like to take a look at it.  He changed clothes and then decided to navigate my mess.  One look at the mahogany table top and one chair, he laughed and said nope, I’m keeping this for myself!  I will gladly take it off your hands.  When he asked me why I no longer wanted this gorgeous dining room table, I told him: it’s a life I no longer have.  I would rather know that it is being filled by a family sharing food and good memories than just wasting away in my garage unused.  Truth, is it was meant just for that. For children spilling things, adults laughing… right now that is not my life.  I will not have any more kids of my own, but some day, maybe I will again be at a table filled by my family and loved ones.  But right now, right here, that is not it.

Between my neighbor, his nephew and myself; we dug out the table top, the legs for it and the six chairs then hauled them over to his garage.  I felt something inside me release.  I continued to unload boxes and sort them further into the piles.  One of the totes I opened to see what it was, I found old framed art…my art.  I posted the following to my facebook page.  Initially, I was hesitate to do so.  But then I thought, why?  Who are we worried that will see that you are cutting ties with your physically and emotional baggage?!?  Posted.

One pot of coffee, a monster and some leftover pizza. I’m finally after 6 years, digging into a corner of my garage….boxes that were packed up in Connecticut, things that were Haley’s as a toddler. I haven’t been ready to deal with this until now. 😢💔 I’m torn between cutting the boxes open to make sure there’s nothing to keep and just dropping all of them at Goodwill. One tote that I opened had the drawings I did for her nursery. Mixed emotions.

A few more hours, my other neighbor is shorting though countless boxes of toddler clothing, perfect size that her daughter is transiting to.  Two overly stuffed totes and a new Disney Princess tv later.  Watching her shift through my daughter’s old clothing was mixed emotions.  I almost whelmed up into tears when I saw her select a adorable sundress that I very clearly remember my daughter wearing.  These clothes have been boxed up close to ten years.  Ten years that I was not ready to deal with the reality, the reality that my ex husband doesn’t let me see my own daughter.  The reality that this is a life I no longer have… The reality that I had been holding onto these clothes because I was not ready to deal with the loss of the lie, of what I believed life was suppose to be.

Between the two neighbors, I made the first of two recycling center runs.  My hands literally shook a bit as I drove with my Jeep packed.  Things that were beyond salvage and just needed to be gone.  Things I had been holding on to for no good reason.  I had turned on some country music and Chris Stapleton was the first song to play….

You only need a roof when it’s raining
You only need a fire when it’s cold
You only need a drink when the whiskey
Is the only thing that you have left to hold
Sun comes up and goes back down
And falling feels like flying till you hit the ground
Say the word and I’ll be there for you
Baby, I will be your parachute

It made me smile.. how in the moment accurate.  I listened to the song on repeat for a good portion of the rest of the day.  It made me feel better, a little more at ease at what I was doing.  Digging out my emotional baggage and eliminating it from my life.

After the second neighbor came through, I loaded up the second recycling center run.  Then dashed home to see just how much I could cram into my Jeep to take to Goodwill before they closed in an hour.  I literally crammed from top to bottom front to back, my four door Jeep full of boxes and bags of old clothes.  It took bin bins at Goodwill to get it all out… I dove back feeling slightly numb, over caffeinated and weird… Not really knowing exactly how I should feel.  I got home and sorted through the last of the things that were left outside the garage.  Organized what had been left in shambles inside the garage and neatly stacked and put things away.  The garage is not done, there are still more boxes to go through, but they are all my old belongings.  There are still more things to be donated.  But for this attack, I feel good at the enormous dent I put into the garage.  Hell I could almost park a Mini Cooper in there now, alongside my own vehicle.

Now, a few hours after closing the garage door, another two slices of leftover pizza and a shower… I feel better.  Tired.  A bit of a headache, ok a whooper of a headache.  But I feel lighter.  My soul is happy with today’s progress.  Like literally lifting a dark sore from your heart.

Why am I still holding on?

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Why is sorting through the junk in my house so incredibly difficult.  What in the actual FUCK is still wrong with me?!
Why am I so frustrated trying to do this!!
Why do I have so many stupid cook books?  I hate cooking!

Some times, a lot of times, I have found that if I just start typing…verbal vomit, so to speak, sometimes I have those A-HA moments and realize what is holding me up.  Something just clicks.  So now, I’m trying to figure that out…

Late fall, early winter, I set the goal that I would have more control over this house.  I would do a mass de-cluttering.  Well, it’s April and I still feel closed in… there is too much shit and the further I dig into things, the more crammed into spaces I find things.

Let me back up.  I hate clutter.  I hate a messy house.  So in reality, this house is no where near a episode of hoarders, it just feels that way to me.  I have to much junk, too much junk that is not used.  It needs to go.  So why, when I am looking at a pile of cook books in my kitchen, that I pulled from their hiding spot last Sunday do I get anxious and want to put all of them back into their hiding spot on the rack?!  I hate cooking.  It’s not that I’m bad at it, I just don’t like it.  I managed to put half of the cook books into a box to go to Goodwill.  This morning, it dawned on me.  Pinterest.  I have Pinterest, if I need to find a recipe, I can just surf Pinterest and ditch 95% of these cook books.  Hell, one had so much dust on the top of it, that I’m sure I have not looked at it in four years.  I do not need this book, why have I been holding on?! When I sent that text message to my boyfriend, he responded with, “No baby, I know how to cook for us.”  This simple answer seemed to make it so much easier, so simple.

Hoodies… oh dear god I have a hoodie obsession.  I pulled all the ones hung on hooks behind my bedroom door, off yesterday and moved them to the chair in the front room.  I looked, picked up each one, put it back down at least four times.  I could not bring myself to put any of them into the pile for Goodwill.  FAK.

What the hell is wrong with me?  Abandonment issues?  Financial struggle?  Personal and or work stress?  All of the above??!

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Ok.  What am I holding on to, just in case… What if I need this dress for a special occasion?  What if I need… Or what if I want this later.  It’s time for it to go.  The trouble I have, is anxiety kicks up trying to place these things into the box to Goodwill.  Some how I need to force through it and just be done with it.

I’ve done a good job of cutting people out of my life that weighed me down, ones that made me feel bad about my life decisions or just in general made me feel bad about me.  Now it’s time to further disconnect from physical possessions. Physical possessions do not bring happiness, it brings a cluttered confined space, and this brings on more stress.  I feel it about mid week, when I feel my house has become a mess and I just become more frustrated by the way my house feels to me and I cannot get comfortable in my own space because it feels so confined.

Yesterday, going through one of the cook books, I found a handful of old pictures, yes actual pictures.  Pictures that were almost 20 years old to about 15.  One of the photographs was of my brother and my ex-husband, when my brother graduated crew chief school… The photograph stopped me in my tracks, a few heartbeats later I stuffed it somewhere and tried to re focus on something else to distract me.  This is not the first time this has happened.  There is an old ziplock bag full of pictures, stashed on a bookshelf semi out of sight.  These photos range from over 20, 25 years old to probably about 15 years.  I know there are pictures from my married life in there and I don’t want to look at them.  I’ve tried.  I start trembling and then I find myself shuffling the pile back together and stuffing them away again.  I know I need to do something with them, but what… just toss them?  Is this part of what I’m still clinging too??

I think one of the biggest bullshit lies as women we tell ourselves, is that retail therapy is good for the soul.  No, it’s not.  It’s clutter and trying to fix one problem with another problem.  A year or so ago, I made myself promise if I buy a bag (purse, gym bag, work bag) one goes out the door to Goodwill.  I have been rather successful at keeping to this.  Now, I need to apply this rule to everything else I buy.

  • Groceries -I have a horrible habit of not taking full inventory of my cupboards before going and buying things to cook with.
  • Clothes -aww hell.  I probably wear the same few articles of clothing over and over again.  I need to do another huge purge on my closet and dresser.  Yes I’ve done one or two since early winter and dragged out the obvious things I do not wear.  Now, it’s time to do it again. This applies to both gym clothes and everyday clothes.  I probably have way too many gym clothes too.  Hell my suits for work could probably use a purge too.  Am I holding on to extra stuff because what I wore use to be a huge fight?  Why are you wearing that?  Who are you trying to impress!
  • Books -holy fuckmonkeys.  This is probably one of the biggest.  I love books, I love being surrounded by books, real actual physical books.  Being in a bookstore or a library is probably one of my happiest places.  But how many books do I own, just because.  It’s time to purge those… That is the one thing I have yet to touch and their are piles of books in just about every room of my house.  Shut up.  It’s a tiny house.
  • Makeup.  I go through phases, I guess, what kind of makeup I wear and… No.  I just need to chuck most of it.  I’m not even sure how old some of it is.  Why am I holding on to it?  Because he (ex husband) said I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup to go to the grocery store?  Because he use to accuse me of cheating..

 

Text message with my boyfriend this morning, “Well, we can just set it on fire and I can come over to put it out.”
“Ya know.  Maybe that’s how I need to look at it.  If there was a fire, what would I want to replace.”
Maybe this is exactly how I need to look at it.  What would I truly be heartbroken loosing?

I need more coffee….