How was your hiking year? Did you spend a lot more time outside, meet more hiking friends, or visit a new park you’ve never been to before? That’s really great news. For you. But, did you spend any time making a difference in the hiking community or outdoor world that you love so much? Maybe not. If you haven’t really done your ‘part’ this year, then you still have a little time before the year ends. And, after all, that’s what the holiday season is for, right?
If you want to end your hiking year helping others as much as you have helped yourself, then here’s how you can do it.
Donate Your Old Backpacking Gear
Do you have lightly used backpacking gear that you no longer need? Something that’s been sitting in your closet that you haven’t used in a long time? Well, as long as it’s in good condition, it could really benefit someone who wants to hike that’s in need. There are a few ways to do this. You can donate to a local charity in your town, or even as the outdoor store near you if they accept donations. Try the Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or local climbing clubs. There’s also a website called giftyourgear.com, where you can send in your old gear and they’ll gift it to someone else for you.
Recycle Your Gear
If your gear is not lightly used and really can’t be donated to another person, then you can recycle it or repurpose it. Most gear is made out of useful materials that can be turned into something else. If you’re handy, you can repurpose the gear yourself, and turn it into other gear you could use on the trail. While it may not be helping out another person directly, you’ll be helping out the environment and that’s just as important. If you’re not really the handy type, Freecycle.org and ROG are two sites that can help you out.
National parks, state parks, and independent trails often need volunteers to help. Whether you volunteer as part of a search and rescue squad or you just volunteer to help clean up trash on the trail, you can really make a difference. It’s a really easy way to get involved and leave a positive ‘footprint’ before the year comes to an end.
Help Raise Awareness
Right now, a veteran named Eli Smith is raising awareness for PTSD by hiking across the entire United States. This is yet another heartwarming story of an individual who is doing their part to spread the word about something they are passionate about. There are many ways to hike for charity, and you don’t need to do it alone. There are groups that set out to raise awareness for a variety of different causes. You still have time to participate before the year is over.
What are you waiting for? If you really want 2016 to go out with a bang, then there is still time left to do so. And, some of these won’t take you much time at all. Get going now. There are only a few weeks left!