Sunday, October 08, 2006

Still basking in the good vibes (and bodily exhaustion) of Saturday’s clean-up in Sugar Creek, MO, (at La Benite Park) our MegaScout crew hit the river once again on Sunday morning. We motored downstream at full throttle to get down to where we left off mapping this summer (the infamous river mile 333 – ‘halfway to hell’).

Fairly soon, a strange sign caught our eye –

“Free Mud Rubs”

Of course, we immediately knew where we were …good ol’ Alligator Cove, with Capt. John Breyfogle hailing us from his kayak. We stopped by for hugs from John, Janie, Stew and Bethany, and quickly hit the river again, preparing to start our mapping again.

With the sun above and the fall breeze in our faces, we were home on the river again. Anyone sitting on the banks may have wondered why these goofballs in their jon boats were whooping like coyotes.

One thing we obviously noticed as we prepared for the Oct. 7 La Benite clean-up was that much of the plastic debris we saw just above the waterline this summer had since been swept away. The seasonal flush of the river had changed the visual picture of the river, but we found that our general rating system still made sense. The general patterns of trash distribution seemed to hold true even as river levels changed.

Passing the miles that we cleaned up on Saturday was incredibly fulfilling, until we saw a few spots that we weren’t able to get crews to. This river-cleaning business requires an unbelievable optimism and a faith in the future responsibility of river lovers everywhere.

We came across another sign of the ephemeral and well-travelled nature of river trash just before we got to the Baltimore Bend National Wildlife Refuge. Almost 100 miles downstream from the last place we saw it (just above Leavenworth, KS), we found a hotwater heater floating amongst some driftwood. Spraypainted on the side was “400.8- 7/06-MRR”. It’s an appliance we saw on our summer leg of the MegaScout – our first found “tagged” item of the trip! (Back in Atchison, we found three refrigerators we had tagged – at La Benite we found a tagged bathtub).

Sunday night was spent upstream from Waverly. We built a campfire along the riprap with some of us sleeping alongside it. Others crashed up on the bank amongst the trees, with possums crashing around in the undergrowth like bears and herons squawking above under the almost full moon.


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