Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
Planes, paddles and portages: a rubbish trip

This is a story about trash.

It wasn’t a quick trip. It took a plane ride, a little paddling in a canoe, portaging, more paddling, another plane ride, and driving down the road.

This trash was abandoned in the remote backcountry of Algonquin Provincial Park, something that unfortunately happens all too often.

An unwanted package

It all started with an email from a park visitor who discovered a sleeping bag full of rotting trash at a backcountry campsite. Leaving animal attractants as rotting garbage is a food reward for wildlife, including bears.

And we don’t want to encourage bears to return to campsites in search of food.


In response to the visitor’s report, a team of rangers was assigned to the cleanup task.

The journey begins

Our rangers decided to photodocument the trip to share what it takes to remove trash from the countryside.

Our rangers arrived at the Smoke Lake hangar and loaded their gear into the Turbo Beaver aircraft.

staff near the plane

Once they reached the lake, the next phase of the trip included paddling to the boat launch.

personnel transporting garbageNot a fan of hauling canoes? Imagine hauling trash!

Thanks to the instructions provided in the customer’s email, rangers located the trash quickly.

Unfortunately, in the summer heat, the sleeping bag was quite fragrant…

personnel transporting garbageGarbage collection by plane is neither efficient nor profitable. Please do not leave anything behind when camping in the backcountry.

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In the last phase of the trip, the trash was loaded onto a park truck to be taken to the nearest waste sorting facility.

staff taking garbage out of the truck


The end of the journey for this garbage bag.

Unfortunately, our rangers regularly encounter trash and broken and/or abandoned equipment on almost every maintenance trip they conduct.

staff throwing garbage

Food left on campfires, full coolers, a barbecue with a whole bag of charcoal, torn tarps and many more. many Broken camp chairs.

Our backcountry rangers want you to remember a few things:

food barrel

Package food strategically and look for ways to reduce food packaging.

Non-combustible trash needs to be packed out, so bring a zip-top bag and keep it in place for bear storage during your trip.

Never leave food or garbage on the stove.

For each item you pack, ask yourself: do I really need that item and do I want to carry it on my back for the entire trip?

Backcountry equipment is specialized and usually made of lightweight materials. What you take camping may not be practical for backcountry camping. Leave the charcoal barbecue and coolers at home!

It is often worth investing in quality equipment. Our rangers often find equipment that failed its owners and was abandoned in the middle of the field. Poorly made chairs and tents are the usual culprits.

Remember: as park lovers, it is our responsibility to properly dispose of all our trash!