Nepali ultra-marathoner’s anti-litter drive

One of the best and nearest hiking trails from Kathmandu is the Champadevi-Chandragiri walk – it offers a splendid view of the Himalaya as well as the city sprawled below.

But as the path through thick forests teeming with wildlife turns into an ever popular attraction for town-bound Nepalis seeking solace in nature the area is marred by plastic trash.

Now, a community effort led by the Mira Rai Initiative (MRI) has started a clean-up and awareness campaign of the trail, and hopes to set an example for locals here and other nature walks in Nepal.

Read also: Mira Rai racing to help other runners, Duksangh Sherpa

Started by international champion Nepali trail runner Mira Rai, the Initiative last month mobilised 65 volunteers who hiked through the forest path picking up litter and placed 30 doko and 20 signs.

MRI worked with Dakshinkali Municipality and local garbage recyclers to ensure regular collection and disposal of the trash from the doko bins. Altogether, the volunteers collected 80 bags of glass, paper, papers from food wrappers, beverages, and straws.

The Initiative promotes trails and trail running in Nepal while empowering the female trail runners across the country. Rai has said she wants to give young Nepali women the same opportunity she had to become world-renowned racers.

Nepal has some of the most exquisite natural and geographical features, and holds enormous possibilities and potential for trail-running which is yet to be realized to a fuller extent.

Because of the trail’s natural scenery, accessibility, and proximity from the city, it is gaining popularity amongst both tourists and locals. There has been a rapid growth in the number of visitors, hikers and picknickers which means it also suffers from rubbish, plastic and other waste throughout the trail.

The pollution has also negatively affected the beauty and appeal of the trail which could subsequently result in a decline in the number of visitors. The reason behind this is a lack of awareness, and inadequate instructions in school and family against littering.

In the absence of bins and containers for waste collection, people tend to dispose and throw the waste on the trail itself. This is why MRI focusses on awareness, and help preserve and maintain the upkeep of the trail.

The cleanliness of the trail would also motivate more runners to train in this trail, and enjoy the enormous possibility ahead of them.

“If we can create a wonderful playground for enthusiasts, we can help create more Mira Rais, who can be torchbearers of our nation on the international stage,” says Mira Rai, who has taken part in 20 international ultra-marathons to date, setting a new world record on the Mont Blanc 80km race. The former Maoist was also named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2017.

She adds: “By undertaking such community efforts aids in the promotion of tourism and the ongoing national campaign for Visit Nepal 2020.”

The Champadevi Trail

Located along the southern rim of Kathmandu valley, Champaddevi is the third highest ridge with an average elevation of 2,300m. It is named after the forest protector goddess, Champadevi, whose shrine is on the summit.

Read also: A walk back in time: Chandragiri-Hatiban

Apart from its natural appeal, the peak holds significant religious value. In recent years, the trail’s popularity as a destination for day hiked, trail running, cycling, picnicking, and other outdoor activities.

The hike to Champadevi goes uphill through planted pine forest towards new growth oak, rhododendron and uttis community forests. The summit can be gained from Dhandragiri, from Hattiban, or through direct climbs from Kirtipur via Deurali and Machhegaun.

The ridge offers unparalleled views from Annapurna to Numbur with Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Dorje Lakpa being the nearest ranges. Far in the distance, even Mt Everest is visible if the weather is clear.