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Leave No Trace: Patagonia Trail Cleanup Party in Torres del Paine

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Written by OneSeed guide Sofia Mardones

The annual Trail Cleaning Party (or Fiesta de La Limpieza) is an event that started about 6 years ago when a group of guides noticed a lack of park rangers toward the end of the season in Torres del Paine National Park. Because of this, no one was really paying attention to the trail conditions and the impacts of trekking and camping when the season was over.

Year after year garbage had been accumulating. There are certain areas of the trail that are obvious high-use bathroom stops, so eventually you will find tons of toilet paper and feminine products left exposed on the ground. Guides have also found shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, pack covers, water bottles - pretty much anything that we as humans leave because we don’t want to carry it anymore or it’s not needed. Some trash is accidentally left, flies away in the wind, or falls off of someone’s pack.

After continued issues with trash accumulating on the trail, local guides decided to start a cleaning party to remove trash from the trails and campgrounds. Every year we look for volunteers from around the region, because believe it or not, there are a lot of locals that have never been in Torres del Paine! Anyone who is interested and capable of hiking with a backpack during the cleanup is welcome.

Several local agencies also contribute to the cause by donating money for cleaning supplies, box lunches, transportation or sometimes even providing a delicious Cordero al Palo for the volunteers to enjoy at the end of the event. Helping our planet AND tasty food makes for a very happy soul. I started helping the cleanup leader “Flash” (real name, Javier) and Luisa about 4 years ago with the trail and road cleanups. As a local guide, I am very environmentally conscious, always sharing tips on ways to reduce garbage and I try to be more conscious with the environment. I feel like it’s my duty as a guide to give something back to the park by doing this. It’s my way to say thank you for the opportunity that I have including A GREAT JOB, A GREAT OFFICE, AND GREAT CLIENTS. I will always do my best to take care of Torres del Paine.