Hiking for a Cause — an initiative of youths

Campaigners pose for a group photo with piles of trash they collected from a hiking trial. (Photo: Aniruddha Aryal)

NL Today

  • Read Time 4 min.

Kathmandu: Garbage littered along the hiking trails has been an eyesore to many hiking lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Expressing deep concern for the environment and with a determination to make these trials clean and beautiful, a group of youths have launched a campaign along various hiking

Walking through the lush green forests — away from the dust and refuse — is a thrilling and soothing experience. For a city dweller enjoying greenery has become a dream come true with shrinking greenery due to rapid urbanization. Aniruddha Aryal, who hails from Kathmandu, is a regular hiker and a responsible citizen too. He has launched a campaign – Hiking for a Cause – in a bid to clean the waste littered along the hiking trails, especially, on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley.

Aryal, who is a regular hiker, decided to launch a clean-up campaign along the hiking routes when his expectation of enjoying natural beauty with fresh air ended in disaster seeing the garbage and waste littered along these routes. Of late, craze for hiking among city youths has increased and this has led to more waste and garbage piled up along the hiking routes marring the natural beauty in and around these routes. He was deeply dismayed to see the garbage littered along the hiking trail on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley.

“I had gone hiking to relish the natural beauty and breathe the fresh air, but what I got here was a foul smell emanating from the waste thrown haphazardly along the trail. At that moment, I made up my mind that I needed to do something about the problem,” recalls Aryal.

Piles of trash dumped by hikers. (Photo: Aniruddha Aryal)

Aryal, along with his hiking friends, started the clean-up drive along the hiking trails some two years ago. They worked together for some time. Aryal and his friends often hiked in Shivapuri, Panauti, Dhulikhel, Tarevir and Chisni Stupa and cleared the trash and waste piled in and around the hiking trails in these places.

But after a few months, his friends did not show much interest in the clean-up campaign and now they have parted ways. However, Aryal has been giving continuity to his campaign—Hiking for a Cause – undeterred for the last two years.

Aryal keeps on encouraging people to participate in his clean-up drive. Every time he goes for hiking as part of the clean-up campaign, many people voluntarily join him, but most of them do not turn up for the second or third time, which is at time disheartening for him.

Despite many odds, Aryal is committed to giving continuity to his campaign. “Even if no one joins my campaign, I will keep on working like this till I bring about some positive changes in the hikers who haphazardly throw rubbish,” he informed, adding that he was determined on creating a focus group to work together for the clean-up campaign.

Campaigners with placards calling for nature conservation. (Photo: Ashok Kumar Gurung)

Following the footsteps of Aryal, another youth Ashok Kumar Gurung has also started the clean-up campaign from the last year with a theme “Covid-19 Balak Movement along with 20 members. Their future plans include reducing plastic use and organizing a big event in coordination with media, schools, police, scouts and hospitals.

Likewise, Raj Shrestha, a trekking guide, is actively involved in clean-up drives. He, along with his team, is usually seen collecting trash while trekking in mountain areas. Seeing piles of trash in and around mountain trails its impact on the ecosystem, I decided to do something about it, says Shrestha. His team has cleaned up almost all the mountain trails including Mount Everest, Langtang, Manaslu, Annapurna Base Camp, Tilicho Lake and Gokyo. The rubbish collected from the trials is handed over to the concerned local level for disposal.

As a trekking guide, he often requests tourists not to throw wrappers, bottles, or any other waste haphazardly. Raj believes that the concept of ‘Pack in, Pack out’ is very effective in keeping the trials and mountain ranges clean. He says around five percent of tourists are responsible for littering waste and polluting the atmosphere in the mountain region.

Since 2017, Shrestha has been involved in clean-up campaigns.

Recently, he founded an NGO — Let’s Clean up Nepal.” The NGO helps in collecting trash and dispose it, according to Raj. Shrestha is also involved and organizing awareness programs to keep the surrounding clean. He is committed to keeping the mountains trash-free.

Campaigners with placards calling for nature conservation. (Photo: Ashok Kumar Gurung)