A Grounds Keeper's Story

We’ve taken a major dose of inspiration from the Packing It Out team, and through the creation of the Grounds Keepers Program we are supporting even more hikers who want to “Leave it Better” and pack out trash as they hike long trails around the country. The inagural 2017 team is compiled of 15 individuals who have committed to thru-hiking various long trails in 2017; from the PCT, AT, AZT, PNT, SHT and more.

Every Grounds Keeper has previously completed a thru-hike or various section hikes, has a passion for Leave No Trace ethics, is strong in mind and body, and is committed to doing their very best to pick up as much trash as possible while on the trail. We’ve outfitted the Grounds Keepers with a specific kit: 1 new Crown2 multi-day backpack, 1 Dump Trunk (Tactical Line), 2 16L Air Zippsacks, 1 7L Air Bag, 1 Scale, 1 Trash Grabber.

We hope that this program inspires others to value our outdoor playgrounds and pack out trash as they hike along. When trash is outside, it’s everyone’s responsibility! Follow along to see the pounds of trash picked up, and catch Grounds Keepers story on our Journal and on Instagram. Join us and use #TheGroundsKeepers for a chance to win a trail mug every month!

Meet the Granite Gear Grounds Keepers

Leland Kolson

I have always believed that you must be the change you wish to see in the world. I have seen first hand how terrible some people treat our sacred lands and want to make a change. My hope is that by joining and working alongside my fellow Grounds Keepers, we inspire more good people to practice leave no trace principles and keep our wilderness areas wild and free!

InstaGram Link: @leland_kolson

Kristina Rolla

I want to help protect mother nature. She is beautiful and she needs our help. I believe that if we come together and help out in the slightest way, we can help keep her beautiful.

InstaGram Link: @wanderstowonder

Rory McGonigle

I grew up an environmentalist and was often involved in beach cleanups with foundations like Surfrider. I've carried those characteristics over to my backpacking and camping trips always wanting to leave my destinations in a better state than when I arrived. I'm excited to leave the Pacific Crest Trail cleaner for the folks passing by after me!

InstaGram Link: @rorymcgonigle

Yehudah Rice

Every since I was 15 I have been madly in love with the outdoors. Being part of the Grounds Keepers team will enable me to take that romance to the next level keeping our beloved outdoors clean and beautiful while trekking along the Pacific Crest Trail.

InstaGram Link: @backpackbarefoot

Ali Edwards

I applied to become a Grounds Keeper to give back to the trails that shaped me into who I am today, and to help preserve the amazing trail systems we have access to in this country. After 7,000 odd miles, I feel most at home on trail, and I cherish my home. There is no more relevant issue for thru-hikers as our sport is taking off in popularity. We must take ownership of our trails and minimize our impacts now, before it's too late!

InstaGram Link: @trailin_chicory

Charlie Rasco

We were looking at doing a thru hike and the Pacific Northwest Trail was the most realistic choice and after we saw a chance for sponsorship, I knew that I wanted to do that so that I could help pick up trash and have a good time on the trails in Washington. I am grateful and excited to be a part of the Grounds Keepers.

InstaGram Link: @charles_rasco

Peter Rasco

I applied to be a Grounds Keeper so that I could show people how we can all make a difference with a little bit of effort. I also want to share our hike while encouraging others to pursue their goals.

Sam Kaelin

I had the pleasure of meeting Cap, Spice and Goose (Packing It Out team) on the Appalachian Trail in 2015. Seeing the positive energy and clean trails they left in their wake was inspirational to me, and I've been trying to get myself involved ever since. I think that what we're doing here is the apex of Leave No Trace practice; It’s really going to inspire people to put their money where their mouth is and protect the wilderness we all cherish so much.

InstaGram Link: @stkaelin

Andrew Forestell

As current occupants of this planet, it is our duty to ensure its preservation. Not only for our generation but for those that follow us. Real talk, littering is bad yo. Don't be a dirty birdie. Leave no trace.

InstaGram Link: @reptarhikes

Gretchen Matt

I chose to become a Grounds Keeper because of my passion for long-distance hiking. As thru-hiking becomes progressively more popular, it is up to all of us to keep the trails beautiful. Giving back feels good!

InstaGram Link: @dirtybowl

Steve Reiner

Usually when I'm hiking - whether it be a day hike, over night, or thru-hike - I always pack out trash. Whether it be my own or someone else’s. Hearing about the Grounds Keepers gave me a chance to not only do my thru hike, but to do it with a purpose greater then itself. Plus, Granite Gear kicks ass - so plus, plus, plus!

InstaGram Link: @wildreiner

Darby Lamb

I applied to be a part of the Grounds Keeper team because I feel passionate towards keeping our back-country and long trail systems without human trace. After my hike on the AT this past year I told myself I wanted to use my time and help maintain a trail. After I saw how much garbage the Packing It Out team pulled off the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, I wanted to be apart of what they were doing immediately. The Packing It Out team inspired me as I hope to inspire others to leave no trace! I look forward to thru hiking the Arizona Trail this year and packing it out with Granite Gear!

InstaGram Link: @darbylambee

Lucy Green

I applied for the Grounds Keepers because I've seen so much human influence on trails and I wanted to do my part to keep the wilderness truly wild. Our world is in such an environmental crisis right now and it's an honor to be able to help in any way I can. I want to influence everyone - on trail or not - to help do their part and work at cleaning up the planet.

InstaGram Link: @lucykaygreen

Marshmellow & Cookie

Cookie is a veteran of the Iraqi Freedom War and MarshMellow recently graduated college with a degree in Ecology. Both enjoy long walks in the woods, puffy clouds and farming. Dislikes: Littering. Separately, they’ve both attempted to hike the Appalachian Trail before and they are now attempting to complete the trail together!

Shawnte Salabert

I love hiking - and encouraging other people to hit the trail - but I also think it's important to learn and practice stewardship. I hope that by sharing the beauty of the Colorado Trail along with the ugly reality of litter, people are inspired not only to get out there themselves, but also to do their part in taking care of our outdoor spaces!

InstaGram Link: @shawntesalabert