At 430 am, most of the people in the quiet town of El Valle de Anton were fast asleep. However, in the darkness of the morning, a group of seventy marched through the streets on a mission. From all corners of Panama, adventurers and nature lovers had come together to hike and clean the trails of this beautiful region in Panama. It was the first ever Adventure Bag Adventure Day and, although I’m tired tonight as I write this, it won’t be the last!
THE BUILD UP
After spreading the word on Instagram and this very blog, the news had spread across Panama about the Adventure Day in El Valle de Anton. Bodhi Hostel quickly sold out. We ended up putting 20 tents in the backyard and parking lot of the hostel to accommodate the adventurers coming all the way from Panama City and Veraguas for the event.
It was great to be able to promote and support Bodhi Hostel, where I have been staying for the last month. The staff here are awesome people and it’s been a fantastic time in El Valle. With the camping crew out the back and an incredibly full house, there was a good atmosphere the night before. Although at that stage we still didn’t quite know how many people were going to be heading out on the hike in the morning.
Despite the constant jokes about the slow Panameno time, the entire group managed to get out of the hostel at 4:38. As we set off down the street in the dark with our torches, I remember turning around from the front of the pack and looking at the crew behind me and it stretched all the way down the street. More than 70 people had come from across Panama to clean up trash and hike. This is social media, this is the adventure culture and this is most definitely the spirit of Panamenos!
LA INDIA DORMIDA SUNRISE HIKE
The hype was great as we headed towards La India Dormida trailhead. Although as we began to hit the incline, many of the hikers began to wonder what they had got themselves into. The humidity even at five in the morning in combination with the steep climb had some breathing heavy and wishing they were back in bed. Everyone managed to make it to the top for sunrise, which was a beautiful pop of color into the valley, which is a volcanic crater.
The clouds rolled down over the mountains and, while the sun never managed to fully burst through the clouds, the fog and the atmosphere was amazing!
On the way down, we began to collect the trash. To begin with it was few and far between on top of the mountain and many were questioning if they would even fill their bag. Having had similar questions on trails before, I too knew how they felt. However, in my experience in Panama, you always leave with a full bag of trash. It is a sad reality but it is, in fact, a normality in Panama and many countries around the world.
As we got further down the trail towards the neighborhoods the trash became more common and everyone started filling their bags. Many had to reach for a new bag and start the process all over again. It was an eye-opening experience for many and an old habit repeated for others. As a collective, we came together and collected a huge pile of trash, which was later taken to the waste disposal center.
We headed back to Bodhi Hostel for a necessary serving of pancakes before quickly walking over to the Aprovaca Center for the presentation. I made a short talk about my work as a blogger and how the Adventure Bag idea came about. I discussed how to ‘Tag your Bag’ and why sharing on social media is even more important than collecting the bag itself. To inspire others to join the movement, they have to see the movement in action. We have to lead by example and make sure that example is seen!
I spoke a little bit in Spanish but also had the help of Bryan, from Caminando Panama, to help translate.
HIKING CERRO LA SILLA
After the presentation, we headed out on the second hike of the day. With Adventure Bags at the ready, the crew was looking strong despite some sore and tired legs from the tough morning! Both hikes are no easy feat with La India Dormida being quite steep and Cerro La Silla totaling 10km.
On the way to Cerro La Silla, the trash was much more prominent. Many houses are nearby and the trail is a common thoroughfare. Litter is thrown aside quite often by the looks of the trail. We filled our Adventure Bags before even halfway through the trail!
It took us over an hour to reach the cross at the summit of Cerro La Silla, where the fresh winds and beautiful view were more than refreshing! It was awesome to see fifty people still going strong after the tough morning with people of all ages and nationalities joining us!
I am honestly humbled that so many people took the time out of their weekend to come and join us for this Adventure Day. I’m so stoked that so many people are inspired to not only protect the environment but to spread the word to their friends, families, and followers about how important our environment is.
You are all legends and despite my lack oSpanishsh, I had some great conversations with different people throughout the day. It was awesome to meet all of you legends and I am writing this full of hope that we can continue to do more and make the change!
Below are some more photos from our Adventure Bag Adventure Day in El Valle de Anton, Panama!
WHAT IS AN ADVENTURE BAG
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike or the beach.
One Adventure = One Adventure Bag