Cleanup Drive and Hiking in Camel Trail 1

The Hiker’s Maxim: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time (J.K.).”

I am not a perfect person nor that I am any better than anybody else. But if there is one thing I pride myself on, it will be the enthusiasm for the environment particularly participating in events that support this cause. That is coupled with making sure I abide by the hiker’s maxim each time I immerse in the wilderness.

A multitude of outdoor enthusiasts or hikers were put on cloud nine when hiking spots were officially opened to the public as part of Saudi government tourism initiatives for their Vision 2030 projects. That was more than a couple of years ago.

Since then, the number of people joining hiking trips organized by different, licensed clubs has been growing exponentially. That includes independent hikers, campers, or, to be accurate, enthusiasts. Over time,  because we have been exploring the outdoors, we have also been contributing to littering them so much so that plastic and inextirpable trash are (increasingly) a common sight on tuwaiq trails.

It was just so fitting to be invited by Al Rimaya via a fellow badminton club member, SJ Anes, and Hikemania to be a part of their cleanup drive project in the most frequented and, probably, the oldest hiking spot in Riyadh last Saturday, the 4th of September. 

The project’s title is “Cleaning Campaign – Camel Trail 1” with an official hashtag “#clean_safe_society”. It is a social community campaign geared towards cleaning one of the most historical hiking places in Riyadh: Camel Trail 1. This event was sponsored by Al Rimaya (one of Riyadh’s leading camping stores) and Hikemania (Riyadh’s most popular hiking club).

A couple of weeks before the 4th of September, I invited two of my colleagues who are interested in this kind of endeavor: Jett (a fellow promoter of wonders in the mundane through “jett_thefuguist”) and Sir Aries (the blogger behind  The Promdiboy Adventures; IG: thepromdiboy). Thank goodness they obliged to the call.

All the participants convened at Al Rimaya store in Al Thagr Plaza at 4:00 AM. We arrived at the base camp at about 6:00 AM, before sunrise. We took a few minutes to traipse around (i.e., marvel at the special moment being welcomed by the blooming of the sun over the horizon).

I always get charmed by this kind of spectacle—one that showcases warm hues of the rainbow; one that touches my skin with colors that bring a gentle passion to my soul.

A little bit later, Hikemania conducted a briefing and, eventually, we were grouped into three: easy (base camp area sweepers); moderate (stairs’ cleaners), and extreme (cliff clippers-preselected by Hikemania). Sir Aries, Jett, and I were part of the moderate group.

We then learned that this project is not only about cleaning the Camel Trail but also to raise awareness of keeping hiking spots as well as public places clean, healthy, and environmental friendly.

The cleanup drive began at 7:00 AM from the very base camp of the plateau down the high zigzagging trail with dry stone walls lining the escarpment to the vast expanse of dry beds extending beyond the optical organs’ reach.

We so enjoyed cleaning while going down the trail of the steep escarpment. Personally, I also felt irked at the thought of campers or hikers mindlessly littering the place, judging by the visible garbage. Just so you know there are concrete trash cans installed at the very site where these garbage were swarming ☹

After an hour, we collected a remarkable amount of trash that included water and juice bottles of different sizes; tin cans; plastic bags; aluminum foil items; toilet papers; Tetra Pak containers; etc.

The activity was concluded with an awards ceremony. The sponsors gifted each participant with a certificate of appreciation and a Swiss army knife.

Before reaching this point, I asked Hikemania and Al Rimaya on Instagram about what did they do with the bags of garbage. That was not tackled during the briefing and I forgot to ask either of the sponsors. They both replied that those bags were handed over to Baladiya authority. They shall be dumped at a designated site.

Thank you Hikemania and Al Rimaya for the swift response, for sponsoring the event’s logistics particularly the free transportation and food, and, of course, for keeping us safe during the entire course of the activity.  

This is definitely not the first write-up about this kind of project but I am fervently hoping that—with this actual initiative—it will serve as an instrument for rekindling our enthusiasm for the environment.

We should be reminded that our responsibility for the environment is imperative, as it did for more than 30 participants on that fateful day. I heard a few of them anticipating the next one while we were lined up for the awards ceremony.

So with that, I am also keeping my fingers crossed that this cleanup drive will only be the first of the many projects that the sponsors plan to carry out this year to mark their involvement in the community not just as business entities, respectively, but as potent elements of society and the environment.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. AJ says:

    The desert is the last place I’d think to have plastic garbage. But people are salaula anywhere, sadly. Whatever happened to claygo? Anyway, still waiting for your invite to the next clean-up drive. 🙂


  2. Mabel Kwong says:

    This is such a great hiking activity you participated in, Sony. It must have been a delight to help maintain one of the most historical hiking places in Riyadh. From your photos, the Camel Trail looks stunning. The sunset and skies all round look stunning – a treat for your optical organs (love your use of the phrase as always 🙂 ).

    It’s funny how some people don’t throw their trash when there are visible trash cans around. Probably more education is needed to get across the message that littering is not harmless but harmful to the environment in the long run. So generous of the sponsors to give each of you a Swiss Army knife.

    Hope you are doing well, Sony.


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