Wandering Pine is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!  Learn more.

Cold Water Spring:  Heading out on my first long clean up hike of the year!

The great thaw is upon us here in Minnesota, which the means Winter’s trash is making  it’s BIG reveal and it’s time to kick off Groundskeeping season!  In case you missed it, or you are new to this space…  I am part of a team of amazing humans who are committed to leaving public spaces better by picking up trash, following the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles and spreading the word!  If you would like to read more about what I learned in my year as a 2019 Granite Gear Groundskeeper, you can check out my blog post and the story in the Outdoor Section of the Star Tribune.

The snow is melting as I write this, so this post will kick things off by introducing the 2020 Groundskeepers team, give a special shout out to the gear sponsors that generously support all of us and highlight a few of the Groundskeepers I’ve met in real life along the way!

Photo credit: Granite Gear Groundskeepers

Meet the 2020 Groundskeepers!

New year, same mission. Granite Gear rings in 2020 with its fourth class of Grounds Keepers leading the charge in leaving our trails, parks and waterways better. Since 2017, Grounds Keeper members have removed over 10,000 pounds (and counting) of trash from our public lands. In 2020, Granite Gear introduces the Grounds Keepers “Legacy Team” including 11 rockstars from previous Grounds Keeper teams, alongside 19 new team members. This year’s diverse crew of 30 Grounds Keepers will be supported by the following sponsors: Astral , Big AgnesFood for the SoleKlean KanteenKula ClothPublic Lands CoffeeRecover Brand and UCO . Granite Gear is thrilled to see the growing coalition of brands supporting this initiative.

Out of hundreds of applicants, the Grounds Keepers were chosen based on their passion for the outdoors, cleanup goals and outdoor experience. With the collective mission to leave our planet better, the new 2020 team includes: Ari Leach, Ashley Bredemus, Ben Vaughan, Cat Curtis, Cliford Mervil, Daniel White, Danny Murphy, Devin Holmes, Hannah Edstrom, Hatie Parmeter, Jen Potts, Kelsey Semrod, Marlee Jennings, Paul Katz, Reece Thompson, Sarah Wilson, Suzanne Hassanein, Todd Lee and Tyler Lau. The 2020 Legacy Team includes: Alex Wehrle, Andrew Forestell, Britany Freeman, Jenny Bruso, Jen Theisen, Julie Hukriede, Leland Kolson, Paul Twedt, Seth Orme, Steven Snyder, Sunshine State Seekers.

Julie Bacon -SNEWS 


Shout Out to Our Fabulous Sponsors

The following rad brands are sponsoring the 2020 team this year!  Here’s a blurry picture of my box of goodies.  Unfortunately I got too excited and took everything apart and started using it, before taking any good photos.  It was like Christmas morning and I just dug right in!  THANK YOU!  At the time of writing this, I have tried out most of these items and will report back after more testing!

Grounds Keeper kit: 1 multi-day backpack or 1 portage pack, 1 Stuffsack, 1 Toughsack, 1 pair of gloves and 1 scale

  • 8 meals from Food for the Sole
  • Headlamp from UCO
  • Reusable water bottle from Klean Kanteen
  • T-shirts from Recover Brands
  • Kula Cloth
  • Coffee from Public Lands Coffee
  • Sleeping Pad from Big Agnes
  • TR1 Series hiking shoes from Astral

Granite Gear

Crown 38 or 60 Backpack, Tough Sack, Zippsack.

Since I already have a backpacking backpack, the good people of Granite Gear supplied my 2020 kit with a SWEET work Bourbonite commuter backpack that I have been using use M-F and a Cross Trek Wheeled Suitcase that converts to a backpack (fancy!)

The Bourbonite is a head-turner in the office elevator and it the perfect size for hauling my laptop, lunch and workout clothes to and from work every day.   The soft fleece lined pockets and zippered pouches are thoughtfully designed and work great for protecting your gear as well as providing easy access to everything.

I’ve had a couple of opportunities to try out the Cross Trek  and my favorite features are all of the multi use compartments that keep your stuff organized and as compressed as you want it!  It is listed as a wheeled duffle, but functions like a stylish three layered cake that magically shape shifts from a suitcase to a backpack! I haven’t tried it as a pack yet, but I love the idea of being more mobile in a crowd when you don’t want to drag around a suitcase.

I’m still loving the Crown 38 that I received as part of my 2019 kit, and its my main pack for backpacking trips and day hikes.  Despite it’s smaller capacity, this baby is a lightweight HAULER!  As much as I love the ultralight backpack that I made myself, this pack is comfy, solid, keeps me from over packing and has everything I need.

Blister Sisters on the Superior Hiking Trail

Kula Cloth

If you haven’t read about how much I love Kula Cloth yet, read here, here and here.   This highly technical legit piece of gear is changing the outdoor bathroom game and keeping TP out of our beloved wild spaces!  And they are sponsoring the GK team for a second year!  Woo hoo!  #dothekula!

IMG_7627Astral Footwear

Astral TR1 Mesh Hiking Shoe (with DRAIN HOLES, people!)  I’ve put about 30 miles on these shoes so far and there has been zero break in time.   I wore them on an 11 mile hike on Sunday and they were great (and I have picky feet).   They are designed with drain holes to keep the water out, so I’ll make sure to pressure test them in mud and water this spring and report back!

Big Agnes

Insulated Air Core Ultra  I tested this pad out on our Women & Wolves weekend on the concrete floor.   I ordered a wide width to hopefully keep the cold air from creeping up on my sides when backpacking in colder temps.  Looking forward to hitting the trail with this super comfy pad and reporting back!

Klean Kanteen

For the second year, Klean Kanteen is upping the reusable water bottle game with a custom printed bottle.  I swapped out the top with a ‘sip top’ and use it ALL THE TIME!  Bye bye single use plastic!



Beta Headlamp  I haven’t had a chance to test this out yet, but I love the wood design.   LIGHT THE WAY!

Food for the Sole

Can’t wait to taste test these!  With meals like coconut rice and cuban black beans…I’m all for it!  Eight meals!  Yum!

Public Lands Coffee

Play.Protect.Preserve   I couldn’t wait for a camping trip to drink this coffee.   I busted it open on my birthday and have been enjoying it every morning since!   And the cute lil camp mug is so sweet.   Life is short, thanks for keeping me caffeinated!  Check em out!

Recover Brands

These shirts are made of eight recycled plastic bottles…how cool is that?  Loving last year’s lavender and am excited to rock my new green one!

Pictured: Carrie Coan, Aaron Oschea, Tim Barton, Jenny Bruso, Paul Kautz (and Kelly!), Julie Hukriede, Paul Twedt, Alyssa Hei, and the Two Harbors crew!

Inspiring Others to Act

We hope that this program inspires others to value our outdoor areas and pack out trash as they enjoy the great outdoors. When trash is in our wild places, it’s everyone’s responsibility! Follow along to see the pounds of trash picked up, and catch Grounds Keepers on Instagram.

-the Groundskeepers

As a Legacy Groundskeeper, I get to help inspire others and raise awareness about how we can ‘leave it better’ in person and on social media.   But my favorite part of being a Groundskeeper has been making new friends, seeing people start picking up trash on their walks and meeting a few of the GK team in real life!  They are rockstars and every time I meet a member of this crew, I get super excited!   A few of us on the 2020 team are already planning on meeting up and scheming a couple of joint events.  I can’t wait!


Ruth aka Ruths Blue Marble, my hiking buddy, trail trash angel and fellow Women Who Hike MN ambassador, started the hash tag #weareallgroundskeepers .  I love the spirit of that! We can all do our part, take care of one another and this beautiful blue marble we live on, one little bit at a time.

Before you go…

Picking up trash is easy.  As you are out and about, don’t forget to bring your 11th essential to help keep our outdoor spaces clean.

  1. Grab some friends (optional)
  2. Go outside
  3. Bring a bag
  4. Properly dispose or recycle what you find

Whether you are picking up a pristine trail or a parking lot, nature thanks you!  It’s as simple as that.  Read more about what I bring on clean-ups and other tips here.

Got some earth friendly tips or big clean up plans for Earth Day?   Keeping it local with your neighborhood streets and storm drains?   Tell us what you’re up to in the comments or continue the conversation on the Wandering Pine Facebook page.

Thanks for reading and Happy Trails!




Subscribe to our handy newsletter for curated Art and Adventure content, upcoming events and new releases!

Thanks for being here!

privacy policy

Let's Keep in Touch!

Our curated art and adventure content features trip reports, outdoor skills, upcoming classes and shop updates delivered straight to your inbox 1-2 times per month.

We don't spam and you can unsubscribe at anytime.

2 thoughts on “Groundskeeping Season is Here!

    1. Hi hiking dude! Brittany from the 11th essential told me about one she found cheap at Aldi last year, so I bought one there. I don’t know the brand, but if you can find one that is foldable, aluminum and has suction cups in the ends, Ive been happy with mine! Check CVS, Walgreens too. 👍🏻

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.