Sunday, October 19, 2008

A late-season sweep on the St. Croix

Today, Julie and I capitalized on some surprisingly nice weather, and headed out for a late-season sweep of the St. Croix River. Our target area for the day was the first of our adoption sites: The backwaters area that runs just south of Osceola Landing. I was beginning to fear that we wouldn't get to this stretch of river in 2008 (our first effort was washed-out, and our second had to be called due to a family emergency). It was a perfect day... but our lack of advance planning left us without a shuttle plan, so we drifted downstream the full trip, gathering trash, and then had to paddle back the same 3.7 miles against the current. It was a great workout!

We're thankful that we only gathered about 22 pounds of trash, including bottles, shoes, a cooler lid, and some softdrink cups. That's not a large quantity of trash, considering the area we covered. But for a mission like this, on a river like the St. Croix, success is not measured by the tonnage removed... but by the beauty left behind.

The still-pristine quality of this stretch of river can attributed, in part, to the work done by members of the St. Croix River Association (they did a clean-up on this stretch back in July). After their clean-up, we were advised by Lisa (SCRA member) that a large blue barrel had become lodged in some driftwood, in a way that they were unable to retrieve it. (Click on any photo here to enlarge it.) Lisa, I've tagged that drum for removal, noting its GPS location. I think I'll get in touch with the DNR before attempting to extract this drum, though, as I was unable to determine whether it was still sealed (looks like it in the photo) and I'm not sure of its' contents. (Sorry, Lisa, we didn't find the picnic table you mentioned.)

I realize that my postings have been a bit sparse over the past couple of weeks, but for good reason. When there has been "spare" time, I've been on-the-water or working on other warm-weather aspects of the project. There will be plenty of time this winter to spend indoors, on the computer, sharing what we've been learning throughout 2008. And there is much to share! Including a new kayak added to our fleet (affectionately christened "the garbage barge"), some footage of several clean-up projects that await editing, and the renewed commitment of assistance from our friends at Joe's Sporting Goods.

It was a privilege to share a day like today with my wife. The fall colors, while past "prime," were absolutely stunning. Today's trip was a reminder of how beautiful a river can be, dressed in its' autumn attire, and offering a sense of calm, as if waiting for winter to come so it can enjoy a nap. We'll make it a point to share some of our photos from the day in a future posting, so you can experience some of the natural paintings and peace we enjoyed on this late-season voyage. (The beauty & the beast, remember?)

© 2008 Mike D. Anderson, Crystal, MN.

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