A pair of local hikers is urging visitors of B.C.’s provincial parks to clean up after themselves—and others—after discovering an estimated 40 pounds of trash at Joffre Lakes on Sunday (June 11).
Friends and photographers Vince Emond and Devan Francis drove to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, approximately an hour north of Whistler, on Saturday (June 12) with the intention of camping overnight. Shortly after setting up their tent on the Upper Joffre Lakes grounds, however, Emond stumbled across three black garbage bags loaded with rubbish.
“Those were hidden,” Francis tells the Straight by phone. “Like, someone had intentionally tried to hide them from the park rangers or whoever.”
The duo then found another heap of trash wrapped up in an abandoned tarp roughly 600 metres from their campsite—this time, out in plain sight. Among the waste were used Solo cups, plastic forks, beer cans, chopsticks, plastic sushi containers, sanitary wipes, and discarded packaging for tents and rain covers.
Emond and Francis decided to take the garbage with them when they left the park the following afternoon. They picked up other litter along the way, packing it into disposable bags they had brought along and strapping it onto their backpacks.
“That was our first time seeing that scale of waste,” says Francis, who counts Joffre Lakes as one of his favourite hiking spots.
On Monday (June 12), the pair published what they had found—along with images of the garbage—on Facebook and Instagram, expressing their anger and disappointment and asking friends to help keep B.C.’s parks clean. At the time of writing, the posts have been shared over 5,000 times.
An avid hiker, Francis explains that he was compelled to dispose of the waste in order to keep a place he frequently visited clean. As residents of B.C., we have a responsbility to take care of our land, he says. “I wouldn’t come to your home and leave a bunch of garbage if I was visiting. So please don’t do that to our parks. If you pack it in, pack it out. Leave no trace.”
The West End resident is asking hikers to pick up garbage “whether it’s yours or not” and to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #TrashTalkBC.
“Post a photo about it, spread the word, and keep this going,” he says. “Just help people recognize that this is an ongoing program that we need to acknowledge constantly.”