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Appalachian Trail hikers plan to ‘trek against trash’

POSTED: March 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.

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Today, a Dacula couple plans to set off from Springer Mountain in an attempt to "thru-hike" all 2,174 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

In that respect, they’re no different from hundreds of others who begin the journey in Georgia in early spring, hoping to make it all the way to Maine by mid-October.

But for Jordan Price and Carlie Roberts, it’s not enough just to prove to themselves that they can do it. They wanted to use their hike to benefit society as a whole.

Thus the "Trek Against Trash" was born. The couple are hoping to raise $150,000 for Keep America Beautiful, and along the way, they want to teach people how to minimize their impact on the environment.

"It was really less about bragging rights, and more about raising awareness for something that’s so important to all of us and to our futures," said Roberts, 25.

"We figured, if we’re going to do this, why do it alone? Let’s let (the public) know the things they can do to make a difference. By them being able to see that we’re getting out there and doing this crazy hike, maybe (they’ll say), ‘Hey, there’s something I can do as well.’ They can reduce, reuse, recycle."

The backpacker’s credo has always been "Leave no trace," meaning that hikers strive to remove all evidence that they were in the wilderness. Everything they carry in, down to the tiniest candy wrapper, is packed out.

Price, 24, said people can adapt a version of that ethic for their daily lives, cutting down on the amount of waste they generate.

"Every American produces 4.5 pounds of trash a day," he said.

Price, who grew up in Stone Mountain, said he has hiked and camped all over Georgia, including the 75 miles of the Appalachian Trail that are within the Peach State.

"It was always a goal to hike the whole trail," he said.

Roberts, a Delaware native and a marathon runner, shares Price’s love of the outdoors and passion for the environment. They agreed last fall that they wanted their Appalachian Trail thru-hike to have a higher purpose, but they weren’t sure which cause they should support.

"We stumbled across Keep America Beautiful when we were looking for nonprofits," Price said. "We contacted them and said we wanted to help."

Keep America Beautiful promotes litter prevention, beautification and environmental education, both on a national level and through its local affiliates, including Keep Hall Beautiful in Gainesville.

Keep Dawson County Beautiful, based in Dawsonville, will be involved in the launch of "Trek Against Trash" because Springer Mountain, the starting point of the Appalachian Trail, is located in that county.

"It coincides with our same mission," said Cathy Brooks, director of Keep Dawson County Beautiful. "Everybody should be empowered to take responsibility for cleaning up their own county."

Price said Keep America Beautiful will be providing T-shirts and other items featuring the "Trek Against Trash" logo, "So when we walk into towns for resupply, we’ll be ‘branded’ from head to toe."

He hopes this will generate curiosity, and when people ask questions, he and Roberts can talk about their anti-litter campaign.

As for the fundraising, Price said it’s just getting started.

"We’ve bombarded all of our friends and family to donate, and are slowly getting some sponsors," he said.

People can donate via their Web page, www.kab.org/TrekAgainstTrash. Price encourages donors to give a penny per mile, for a modest total of $21.74.

The couple are also planning to carry an Internet-capable phone that will allow them to post blogs from the trail. And they’ll keep the batteries juiced with a solar-powered recharger.

"We’re trying to leave zero impact on the environment," Price said.



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