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Hike MoCo Save The Smokies Clean Up - by George Hawver

Hike MoCo sponsored and participated in the Annual Save The Smokies Clean up Wallend, Tennessee !

Several members of Hike MoCo, the local Morgan County Hiking

Group participated in the Great Smoky Mountain Spring Clean on April 23, 2022 and working with approximately 170 other volunteers, removed almost 2 1/2 tons of trash from Smoky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area . The event was organized by Save Our Smokies and Responsible Stewardship and sponsored by several area businesses and

organizations including Morgan County’s Hike MoCo, Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery and Lone

Mountain Sound.

The over 4500 pounds of trash removed on April 23 was actually a partial

total as one of the other groups participating did not submit their weight totals as of this

release. Previous Save Our Smokies Clean Up events have removed over 11,500 pounds of

trash from the park. Hike MoCo Co-founders Cathy Howard and Erin Howard started the group back in 2017 as a way to promote hiking the beautiful trails in and around Morgan County. Primarily, an online entity on Facebook, the group organizes hikes and events such as the Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival Hiking Marathon, Summer Hike and Swim Series, Fall Frenzy and Winter Waterfall Wander.


The Hike MoCo Facebook page also provides members a place to network and organize their own hikes, share pictures, events, trail and gear information, or any items of interest pertaining to outdoor activities. The group has grown to over 1,500

members.


Hike MoCo is a part of the Morgan County Tourism Alliance and members

function as trail ambassadors to promote Morgan County parks and trails through social

media and by inviting hikers they meet outside of the county to visit Morgan County. The co-founders are avid hikers and share a disdain for people who litter and destroy the

scenic beauty of our county and region’s natural areas. The groups philosophy of “Leave

No Trace” is reflected on one of the group’s popular t-shirt designs which boldly proclaim, “Leave No Trace you jerk-face poopy heads….you know who you are.” Even though the message uses humor to convey its message, the group is serious about

eliminating litter and regularly carries trash bags in their packs and more often than not, hauls out trash discovered along the trail, to ensure they leave the great outdoors better

than they found it.


The Hike MoCo team was paired with other groups and assigned to clean up pull offs on the

southern section of the Foothills Parkway near Wallend, Tennessee. Reacting to the

tremendous amounts of trash discovered in the Smokies during the Spring Clean, including a

water heater, a television and part of a bed frame, Erin Howard lamented, “I am incredibly

saddened by the amount of trash people have thrown out. I will never understand why

people think it’s okay to litter and dump trash.” Hike MoCo member George Hawver added, “Most of the items we removed weren’t carelessly discarded trash, like a candy wrapper or an accidentally dropped water bottle. It was deliberately dumped trash by someone too lazy to take it to the dump. Instead, they pulled up to a scenic overlook and ruined the view and endangered wildlife by throwing household garbage off the roads or parking areas into a natural habitat.