Pine River cleanup #4 is in the books. Our crew today included Kurt (the log jam dancer), Mark (the amazing spear master), Gail (who quietly gets the job done), John and me, plus Abby (on her first Pine River trip ever) and Gracie (who has been my canoe buddy for over a decade). From Elm Flats to Dobson: only 3 bags of trash plus one whole and two half canoe paddles. Success!
Report by Gracie Failor, heading into her junior year at GVSU
The morning of July 30th started a little differently than I planned. Instead of waking up for a leisurely morning of kayaking preparations, I was awoken by multiple calls from my neighbor, Abby. "I'm outside" she said, "are you ready to leave?" In a panic, I shot up from bed and threw on some clothes. Lois and John hurried over with the boats all loaded and rushed to my aid to get a lunch packed and all my gear ready. Finally, we were off!
Although I had a bit of a rough start to the day, the rest of it went amazing! Lois, John, Abby and I drove down to the Pine River to begin our adventures. There we were met by Kurt, Mark and Gail. The group quickly ran the shuttle while John reviewed kayaking basics with Abby and me. Soon, we were on our way down the river. It appeared fairly clean for the peak of summer, but Mark and Kurt were able to find lots of trash climbing into log jams and spearing cans from the bottom of the river. Although we didn't see much trash, we saw a plethora of animals, including deer, a mink and some wood ducks.
We paddled for a good several hours, and were just starting to get rather cranky from hunger when John found the perfect lunch spot. We sat in the woods and chatted while enjoying our lunch. When we got back on the water, we only had little bit left until we reached our landing point. We packed up and headed home, but not without a few pictures! Lois, John, Abby and I headed to Olive Garden to celebrate a day well spent. Another amazing canoe trip is in the books, I can't wait until next year.
Report by Abby Puckett. heading into her sophomore year at the U of M
Although a day of paddling normally begins in a well-organized and calm manner, our trip to the Pine River started a little differently. After multiple knocks on Gracie’s door were answered with silence, I began to worry. Did she forget about the river cleanup? No, that didn’t sound like Gracie. Could she have gotten to Lois and John’s house early? That didn’t really sound like Gracie either! After multiple texts, calls, and attempted break-ins, we finally got her out of bed and on our way.
The rest of the morning proceeded more routinely. After arriving at the Pine River after about an hour drive, we unloaded our gear, met our fellow participants Kurt, Mark, and Gail, and waited as they ran the shuttle. As we waited, John refreshed Gracie and me on how to ferry across the Pine. We practiced a few times, and I thought I had it mastered.
Turns out, practicing something twice does not make you a professional. As soon as we started down the river, I found it very difficult to navigate the waters of the Pine. Had it been an ordinary trip, I probably would have been able to manage, but because I was also trying to look for trash, I had a hard time controlling my kayak while searching the water.
My clumsiness stood out in stark contrast to our other trip companions. Mark, probably the trip’s most proficient can collector, stood in his canoe for the majority of the time and never failed to retrieve a piece of junk from the river. Kurt spent almost as much time out of his boat as he spent in his boat, as he climbed around log jams to find a plethora of treasure. Gail had eyes like a hawk and never missed even the most difficult to spot items.
As the day went on, Lois helped me master the art of ferrying. Turns out I had the wrong end of my boat pointed towards the direction I wanted to go! As soon as I was better able to navigate the waters, I felt more confident in the faster sections of the river, and I was able to turn my focus back towards cleaning. By the time we stopped for lunch, I was holding strong at TWO pieces of trash, a wrapper that I had swiftly snagged from a shallow section of water and a piece of plastic I had spotted on the banks.
After our lunch break, we continued on our journey; however, because we had already traveled so far before stopping, it was a short trip to the finish. The second half was just as exciting as the first, with a few sections of rushing rapids, a few more trash finds, and even a couple of wildlife spottings (Gracie and I saw a mink and several people in our group spotted a few wood ducks).
After we got off the river, unloaded the boats, and drove back into town, Gracie, Lois, John and I finished the day by stopping at Olive Garden. Gracie and I ate lots of breadsticks and I also enjoyed some ravioli. By the time we got home, I was very tired but satisfied by a fun-filled and awesome day of paddling!
A tree grows in the middle of the Pine, with Lois and Kurt
A real find for Abby! (it went into the trash)
All of us at the end, showing the parking pass that the Huron-Manistee National Forest gives us.