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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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August 20 Pine River cleanup, Peterson to Low

Lois Goldstein  | Published on 8/20/2019

I couldn't believe how lucky we were to get such a fabulous and experienced group for the final Pine River cleanup this summer.  There have been 6 such adventures and all of them occurred in great weather, with successful finds every time.  Mark, John & I have been able to attend every one of these events, with Kurt missing only one (and he was very disappointed) and Marlene and Jocelyn coming in with four each.  Sue and Gerald came to three of them, while Gail, Jacqui and Kathleen came to two.  There were a total of 13 others who helped out on one trip each, including five young people who were relative novices to paddling, but they did well and there were no calamities on any of the outings.  I am so grateful for all the support of the rangers of the Huron-Manistee National Forest and especially to the fine folks at Pine River Paddlesports Center, who have supplied people, boats and shuttle services.  Even though I am the organizer of these events, they would never be able to take place without all the other people who help out.  Mark summed up the adventures with this: "Having that much fun must be against the law!"


This last trip was identical to the one we did on July 3, yet we still pulled in ten bags of trash, and although some of it was old stuff, lots was new, including numerous unopened beer cans.  The H-M NF has proposed an alcohol ban on their National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and clearly the efforts at "educating the public" this year have not been successful.  We struggled to retrieve several mesh "onion bags", which were usually found twisted around submerged branches.  The white labels made them look like birch bark under the water, but we were persistent and managed to yank them out.  Trash bags do not do any good unless they are securely attached to the watercraft.


We encountered a delightful group from Calvin College, who were on a team-building excursion.  Such polite young people!  Paul was a new member of our team, and he turned out to be an awesome river-picker.  Though he was totally wet in the borrowed sit-on-top kayak, he managed to grab some of our best items.  John came up with a black blazer, complete with gold buttons, and we are all still contemplating WHY someone thought that this was appropriate attire for a river trip.  It did give us inspiration for some of the funniest stories told at lunchtime, especially the one about wearing a wool suit to bed when one person got wet on a hike up Mt. Washington.  Another highlight was the tale of the barfing bear, who clearly didn't appreciate the spoiled beef jerky that had been left out as a snack.


As usual, Kurt climbed on log jams, and Mark stabbed at numerous items below river level.  But the most impressive thing about this trip was the high level of cooperation among everyone.  Often one person would spot an item, a second one would verify its location, a third would turn their boat quickly to head towards the non-native debris, while a fourth would be there for safety and perhaps to help take something off the end of a spear or grabber stick.  It was like watching a well-choreographed ballet!  The weather was perfect – not too hot or chilly, and we all had a great time.  Maybe next year, there won't be anything to pick up.  I have been doing this for almost 20 years, and I can hope!


Photos by John
We surrounded Mark to give him a gas card to help defray his expense of doing our shuttles and furnishing free boats for all our Pine Cleanup Trips.


The crew at the start - see how clean we all look.
Gerald, Sue, Marlene, Kurt, Paul, Mark, John, Kathleen, Lois, Jocelyn, Roseanne.


Kurt displays his balance as he walks on another logjam to capture some trash. Here he is admiring a flip-flop with an orange strap.


Sue shows off a pirate flag she found.


Mark struggles to capture a piece of trash on the river bottom.


And here is why he had such a hard time - the trash was a stainless steel mug. His spear couldn't pierce it.


Kathleen struggles to grasp what she thought was a tangled old Ziploc bag. It turned out to be a big piece of dead fish!


Mark shows off the shirt he found that he thought might go well with the black blazer John found earlier in the day.


Kathleen displays the lure she captured. It always feels good to get those treble hooks out of the river, so they don't snag people or animals.


Bear claw marks in the clay at the water's edge.


Another set of bear claw marks


Crown vetch along the river bank


The first batch of trash, plus some trashy folks!


The second batch of trash added to the pile. What stories that trash could tell? I want to know why they had a black blazer in their canoe? Was it a wedding party? If so, did they capsize before or after the ceremony?