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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…  Since 2019, I have been 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 years as a 2019 and 2020 Granite Gear Groundskeeper, you can check out my blog posts and the story in the Outdoor Section of the Star Tribune.

In other news

you are following me on instagram, you’ll see that I have started painting again (see cover photo).  Im super stoked to announce that I am entering the 2021 Kula Cloth Design Contest and would love your vote if you like my design. Voting starts today, March 15th and runs until March 30th. Head on over to kulacloth.com to check out all of the designs and vote for your favorite.

After a long break from making visual art, I got a jumpstart in January by taking a kula academy watercolor class taught by the amazing @jitterbug_art , and have tried to create a small painting most evenings as part of my end of day routine. Im so grateful for the creative nudge and to be painting again. I’m new to landscape painting and have never really painted outside. Its my dream to hit the trails this summer with my little outdoor art kit and bring together two things I love, art and the outdoors! I also love the joyful, unifying spirit, sustainability message and community that @kulacloth has created with their high tech pee cloths. Check them out and don’t forget to vote!

A whole new crew has formed this year! Looking forward to when we can all gather again!  Hanging out with some of the 2019 & 2020 Grounds keepers and the Two Harbors crew!

Meet the 2021 Groundskeepers!

Introducing our 5th class of Grounds Keepers!  The 2021 Grounds Keepers team is a combination of 20 diverse new hikers and paddlers and two “Home Team” Legacy GKs in Minnesota who have been rockstars for the program in years past (thats me!). New for 2021, we have selected 10 regions to focus our efforts on and have picked two GKs for each of those select regions. There will be a grand prize for the team of two who pick up the most trash in 2021! As always, our goal is to remove as much trash as possible from our trails, parks, waterways, and lakes around the world (we have two international GKs this year). When trash is in our wild places, it is everyone’s responsibility.

Follow along and tag @thegroundskeepers #LeaveItBetter or #TheGroundsKeepers

-The Groundskeepers

Shout Out to Our Fabulous Sponsors

The following amazing brands are sponsoring the 2021 team this year!  Each Groundskeeper is supplied with a care package of the following items to support their clean up efforts on the trail. I loved mine so much this year, I did a little painting of it!

Grounds Keeper kit: 

Granite Gear

Over the last 3 years as a Groundskeeper, Granite Gear has generously provided me with a Crown 38 multi day packBourbonite commuter pack, Cross Trek Wheeled Suitcase and new for this year… a Crown 60 Women’s Backpack

Granite Gear packs and stuff sacks are well designed, dependable and have served me well.  I use my commuter back as a mobile office, Crown 38 as my primary day pack and 3-4 day backpacking trip pack, and look forward to when we can travel again, so I can bust out my Cross Trek suitcase. 

I have a couple of longer trips planned this year that will require carrying more food without re-supply, so I’m excited to try out the popular Crown 60 Women’s Backpack and put it to the test.  Its a lot bigger than I probably need, but I like the flexibility it offers for winter camping and longer trips.   If I do end up overpacking, its designed to be a heavy hauler. 

Kula Cloth

If you haven’t read about how much I love Kula Cloth yet, read herehere and here…  and go vote for my design.  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 third year!  Woo hoo!  #dothekula!

Astral Footwear

Astral TR1 Mesh Hiking Shoe (with DRAIN HOLES, people!)  I’ve had these shoes for a year and especially like them for wet Spring hikes and have used them a few times hiking up a river bed.  They are comfy, supportive and are designed to dry super quick. 

Big Agnes

The Insulated Air Core Ultra  provides a plush nights sleep on the trail and comes with a bag to help inflate it quickly.   This year, since I already had a sleeping pad, Big Agnes was nice enough to substitute a lightweight camp stool that I’m anxious to try out to add a little luxury around the campfire or maybe even for some outdoor painting. 

Klean Kanteen

For the third 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!


I love this little mess kit, in my favorite color!   I wish I had this back when I was camping with the Scouts.   I love that is snaps closed tight and can double as a food container…and the little collapsible orange coffee cup is too cute to leave at home. 

Food for the Sole

I loved these meals to supplement my homemade backpacking meals last year and am especially fond of the Triple Peanut Slaw and Apricot Oatmeal! Yum!

Hikers Brew Coffee

I typically make my own instant coffee concoction on the trail, but have been enjoying their organic brew at home.   Thanks for keeping us fueled!

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!


I’ve been a big fan of Sawyer Water filters and insect repellants for years. Check out my post on tick prevention on the trail and keep your water safe and clean with their lightweight filters.

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 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.

But wait, there’s more…

I’ve got three posts that have been in the works for a while that should be publishing soon. If you want to read about footcare on the trail, how I prep my backpacking food and some sustainable backpacking tips, hit the subscribe button to have them delivered right to your inbox.

And don’t forget to vote for your favorite Kula between March 15-30th!

Thanks for reading and Happy Trails!



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2 thoughts on “Groundskeeping Season is Here! (again!)

  1. Been picking up trash on both trails around the country and asphalt paths near our home for many years. Yesterday I picked up a Monster Energy can on a path in Eagan we walk on everyday. Many times I say to myself, how can people enjoy this public path and yet walk past the trash that someone toss next to it. If only more people cared about the environment we live in. It such an easy thing to do.

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