I took a hike this weekend at Crystal Mountain to enjoy the views and start getting my quads back in shape for skiing. Thanks to CMAC Ski Racing, and their annual ski area cleanup day, there’s very little garbage on the slopes. Every year countless bags of beer cans and bottle caps, ski pole baskets and plastic baggies are dragged off the mountain thanks to these volunteers. You can now walk most of the open slopes, ridges and bowls and find very little trash. It’s a beautiful thing.
However, when I got off-trail the other day–traipsing through the thick trees off Toilet Bowl–I came upon some astonishing garbage. Apparently I stumbled upon a popular “safety meeting” spot, and the leftover evidence was pretty disgusting.
Ask most ski area users why they come to the mountains in the winter time, and most will say the same thing. They come to the mountains for the fresh air, to ski/ride and to be in a beautiful place. The winter wonderland of the Cascades trumps the rainy concrete jungle of the city any day. We come to the mountains to get away from the humdrum and find some special.
So why leave your garbage behind? Why be a pig? Why, if you carried those full beer cans into the woods, can’t you carry the empties back out again?
I’m probably preaching to the choir here. Most of you readers would never throw your empties off the chairlift, or into the deep woods. You would never steal a closed sign to sit on while you chucked a six-pack of Keystone or Bud Light, with your back up against the trunk of an alpine fir.
You, dear readers, are not pigs. You are not litter bugs. Most likely, many of you were the very volunteers that picked the trash a few weekends ago. And if you ever do drop a piece of accidental trash, you chase after it, trying to step on it before it skitters under that pickup truck in the parking lot.
But just in case Mr. Keystone or Ms. Bud Light happens upon this page while googling “how not to be a jackass” here’s a few pointers:
If you must drink alcohol while skiing or riding, don’t throw your empty cans into Mother Nature’s lap. It’s bad karma. Carry a bota bag instead.
- Go ahead and find a cozy spot in the woods to throw back a cold one with friends. But just remember: PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT. And don’t steal our closed signs just to have a dry place to sit your ass down. That’s what Gore-Tex is for.
- Respect Mother Nature. Beautiful places are all too rare. Don’t turn this beautiful place into a garbage dump.
- When in doubt, follow the Dirt Bag Code of ethics. Don’t know what that is? Just look around at the guys and gals that have made Crystal Mountain (or any other ski area for that matter) their home, who live in their van in the parking lot, and have eschewed the city life in order to be here on a powder day. Do what they do.
- And if you don’t remember anything else, remember this one thing: DISCRETION. Just because you’re crushing it and you’re the biggest badass on the whole mountain, doesn’t mean you have to be a jackass.
And for those of you that already take care of the world’s pretty places, thank you. Feel free to pass on these words of wisdom to those that could use a little extra. And don’t be afraid to remind those litterbugs that you noticed that Snickers wrapper that they dropped from the chairlift. It takes a village, people.