Trip report by Brooke Corso (a recent graduate of Wellesley College)
After days of unrelenting rain, the sun finally came out on Wednesday, June 30th to the joy of eleven brave paddlers set to clean up the Pine River. The day was marked with plenty of unexpected twists and turns (not just along the river) including three unplanned swim breaks, an abandoned canoe stuck in the river, a wagon found at our lunch site just before High Bridge, and one of us, who may or may not have been me, mixing up Highway 31 and 131 on the way to the launch spot. Still, we had plenty of fun and cleaned up the beautiful Pine River along the way. Several important lessons emerged from the trip, beneficial for both experienced and novice paddlers.
- Forego Apple or Google maps for a good, old-fashioned paper map. This might come as a shock to some of my fellow Millennial/Gen Z’ers, but you can’t beat the real thing! Trust me, I learned the hard way after discovering I’d driven an hour out of the way.
- In the event you take an unexpected swim break, hang on to your paddle and let go of your boat. The boat will be easy to spot and retrieve, while paddles can virtually disappear into dark water and mangled trees.
- When it comes to rope, less is more. After one of our paddlers took an unexpected swim break, the 40 feet of rope attached to his kayak became tangled in logs. 12 feet is all you need!
- Remember to give your fellow paddlers plenty of space on the water, especially when passing through more treacherous waters.
- Walkie-talkies are invaluable when you have a larger group. We relied heavily on communication between John at the lead and Lois at the rear to keep track of everyone and alert anything necessary.
- Ensure that your life jacket is properly fitted to your body! If you’re unsure, a quick Google search or asking a fellow paddler will certainly do the trick. The goal is that if you end up in the water, the life jacket doesn’t rise up to your ears and instead stays snuggly fitted to your waist.
- Lastly, and perhaps the most important lesson as cheesy as it sounds, is to have fun and find joy in the important work of keeping the river clean! Luckily we didn’t encounter too much trash, but we did collect bottles, lighters, shoes, what have you. I’m always amazed by the beauty of the Michigan landscape and am grateful to have contributed to preserving its natural essence.
I’d like to give a special thanks to PRPC for lending six kayaks to our group and for providing shuttle service for us. Without their generosity, the trip could not have happened!
I’d also like to give a special shout out to one of our paddlers, Wayne, for selflessly assisting two paddlers after their unexpected swim breaks.
The trip was great, the weather was wonderful, and it’s always a joy to connect with old friends, all while doing some important work! I look forward to the next trip I can attend!
Photos by John Heiam
From left to right starting in the back row)
Wayne, Jane, Tom, Gail, Ben, Marlene, John, Brad, Lois, Brooke, Donna
Someone started a small garbage dump at our lunch spot near High Bridge, so we cleaned it up.
Tom, Ben, Donna, Wayne
The crew minus Wayne with our garbage, minus the stuff we left for PRPC at High Bridge
John, Brad, Marlene, Lois, Gail, Ben, Donna, Jane, Brooke, Tom