Hiking has changed in the last 40 -50 years. We used to get a guide for the areas we wanted to hike. The guide would tell us where the trailhead was and then narrate the hike. I remember my father reading the description of the trail from the guidebook. “Follow the brook for two miles through a pine forest before ascending a steep rocky trail for one mile, etc.”
Now there is an App. So I downloaded it. The App connects to google maps and guides you right to the trailhead. At least that is what is supposed to happen. I started driving following the directions of the App. My screen lit up with a question. Do you want to take a shortcut? Without even hesitating, I pressed yes and continued following the directions which took us to a deserted road in the middle of nowhere. There was no trailhead in sight. The map said we were there but “there” was a dirt road in the middle of a steep hill with ditches instead of shoulders on the side. Even with our Jeep Wrangler’s tight turning radius, I didn’t think I could turn around. We stopped, set the emergency brake, and got out to find the elusive trailhead.
There was a deep rumbling sound and I saw a huge dump truck climbing the hill. He went roaring by us and then at the top of the hill he slammed on his brakes and screeched to a stop. The door flew open and the driver jumped out and started running down the hill.
Uh oh, I thought. We are in trouble. We shouldn’t be here, we are parked illegally, this is someone’s private property, why did I buy that App? Was it because I pressed shortcut? All I wanted to do was take a lousy hike? Is he going to yell at us?
We watched as the driver slid to a stop on the heels of his work boots. He bent down and picked something up and held it over his head like an athlete who just won a gold medal. It was a bag of garbage – a French fries container, a hamburger wrapper, a plastic cup complete with a straw sticking out of the lid, all falling out of a torn bag.
The driver had stopped to pick up trash.
The driver of this very large construction vehicle obviously on his way to a job had stopped to pick up someone else’s trash in the middle of nowhere.
Who does that?
We watched him jog up the hill with his trash, climb into his truck, and drive away.
We stood there, the trailhead forgotten as we looked at the pristine landscape surrounding us giving thanks for the steward in the dump truck who took a few minutes to keep it that way.