"Sorry, this page isn't available." That's what the Trail Trash of Colorado page on Instagram now reads. Over the past year, @TrailTrashCO named and shamed bad behavior in the outdoors, whether it was feeding wild animals, leaving behind trash or walking on the logs and swimming at Hanging Lake.
The creator of Trail Trash, who insisted he remain anonymous, doesn't know for sure why Instagram shut his account down. Since the page reshared content from other people, it could've been intellectual property charge. The occasionally frothing comments section also harassed the outdoor shamees. Either way, he doesn't begrudge the decision.
"To be honest, I can't really fault them for making that call," the Trail Trash creator said.
While he repeatedly discouraged the harassment of the bad behavior subjects, the creator is aware he was up against an online mob mindset.
"I had made several posts and several pleas to the community to please keep it at a light-hearted ruckus," he said. "But it’s the nature of the internet that it never goes that way."
The Trail Trash creator admits losing the account is almost a relief. A year ago, he was publicly and seriously considering deleting the page of his own accord. After receiving hundreds of messages begging him to keep going, he did—"for better or for worse."
He announced on Reddit that Instagram had removed the account, and that he was not planning on appealing the decision. Several commented their support: "Keep fighting it - we need you!!". A few volunteered themselves as tribute to take over the anonymous Trail Trash mantle. Others recommended launching an independent website.
The original creator doesn't care how fans want to move forward, but he's out.
"It caused so much stress in my personal life. Like you said, I was a little bit relieved to see it go," he said. "I would encourage anybody who wants to make an account similar to that to be very diligent. There’s a lot of negativity that comes with it."
He also encourages people to pursue conservationist activism in more traditional ways, by volunteering on a trail maintenance trip or attending a trail building exercise. And, if they see someone littering or going off-trail, they could talk to them face-to-face.
Trail Trash's creator doesn't believe he alone transformed all outdoors behavior for the better. But he hopes he made some sort of impact.
"I think I may have made a small difference. I wouldn't say that I even came close to fixing the problem," he said. "But maybe a small dent."