Sunday, September 21, 2008
Sunday was the Annual Vermillion River Cleanup, and we couldn't have had a better day. The weather was beautiful, the volunteers were plentiful, the sponsors were awesome, and it was a great experience all around.
The river was in better shape this year than I'm used to. We only found about 1/2 as many bikes as normal, and less trash in general. It was great to see! Because there was less hauling to be done, a few volunteers were able to devote their time to trail clearing! Over the past couple years, about 8 trees had fallen over the path between the bridge and the falls. The tree crew cleared them all and trimmed back some of the overhanging branches that made it difficult to walk. The trail is now clean, clear, and as safe as it can be. Now if only we could find a way to get some stairs over there...
I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I decided to stay dry this year and do shore cleanup. Thankfully Alex (and later Mike J) brought water gear and waded the length of the river, pulling out all kinds of debris. In fisherman's pool Alex found an old motorcycle and several other large or stuck-in objects. Mike had an old climbing rope, so we rigged up a pulley system to drag them out of the water and up the cliff. The water guys tied on the object, Jay and Art rigged the rope through a tree-mounted carabiner, and I backed my truck to the edge of the cliff to provide the pull. It worked great for the Motorcycle and the first stuck-in bicycle (see the video on Nora's blog), but when we got to the second stuck-in bike we had a bit more trouble. I'm not sure what it was caught on, but the second bike was so stuck that we snapped Mike's 1100lb-rated climbing rope trying to get it out. Apparantly when the rope snapped it looked like a 100' bull whip, cracking like a gunshot in the direction of my truck. Thankfully, we were all standing well clear of the rope and nobody got hurt. Unfortunately nobody got that on tape, so the story will have to suffice.
Huge thanks to Nora for organizing the cleanup again this year. As always, she put her heart and soul into making it the best it can be and really pulled through. She got swag from lots of great sponsors, cooked tacos and homemade salsa for everyone, made the reservations with the Park, got us all gloves and bags, and made a kayak pinata! Thanks for all the hard work!
Last, I have to once again give a huge thanks to Jackson Kayak, Worldkayak.com, and Julie out at Wausau Whitewater because the boat I won at the Midwest Freestyle Championships came! It's a lime-green Jackson Hero, and I'm incredibly stoked to try it out. Though I haven't gotten it on the water yet, I have spent some time sitting in it in my kitchen (this is why I live alone) to get the outfitting just right. Can't wait to get it on a river. Thanks again to everybody helped make the event (and the raffle) possible!