Monday, September 27, 2010

Vermilion River Clean Up 2010!

Oh my I was running late this morning.  I actually forgot my cell phone and had to run back home.  The clean up started at 9am and I was the organizer. I had all the "stuff"!  I made it there at one would know.  Hey, we're all kayakers and on kayak time, right?  But what was this?  9am and a boater pulls in the parking lot?  Followed by more? Paddlers were rolling in on time!  We had a super turn out today despite the drizzly start of the day.  Nearly thirty men and women came to give our local play run some lovin. The Vermilion River is a very beloved urban river south of St Paul in Hastings MN.  Once a year Rapids Riders hold their Vermilion clean up.  The section of river we clean  runs through a narrow, deep canyon with sketchy trails descending down to the river.  Our "run"... from the falls to the old ruins.  Over the years Rapids Riders have removed literally tons of garbage from the river and banks by bringing it up the cliffs.  Not an easy task at all!
  A strategic map of the river was drawn and plans were made.  Some had brought tools for trail maintenance.  Many had brought ropes. Everyone took bags and off they went.  It just amazes me when I see the massive amount of work that gets accomplished each year and the ingenuity of  how the paddlers  accomplish it. The trail was cleaned of all the downed wood and overgrown brush in mere minutes.  Ropes were set up and paddlers worked in unison to gather bikes, scrap iron, tires and miscellaneous items and haul them up the cliffs.   Several spread out and picked up garbage from the park above.  Many beer cans, bottles and articles of clothing and it's always good to know that the park goers are practicing safe sex.  The find of the day was a full can of Budweiser 2009 Sturgis edition beer.  Noticeably the actual amount of garbage being removed each year is less and less!  In the past there has been a huge amount of industrial garbage that has been down in the canyon for years.  From the efforts of paddlers the bulk of this has been removed and the present garbage is the yearly litter.  Yes we are making a big difference!

During lunch, Tom Lewanski gave a talk about Friends of the Mississippi River and all the great projects they do to help the Mississippi river and it's tributary's which the Vermilion is one of.  Not an easy task these days with invasive species invading  many of our rivers and lakes. They also fund projects to restore habitat along the rivers.  Fight urban runoff. This organization are our advocates at the DNR.   A very good cause!
  After lunch was the drawing for door prizes!  Our awesome sponsors really came through this year!.  Midwest Mountaineering has been our sponsor since the beginning of the clean up 11 years ago!  My favorite store!   This year we had two great helmet manufactures donate helmets.  Shred Ready and WRSI.  I personally own a couple of both helmets and love and wear each.  Yes I am a woman and they're kind of like shoes for me.  The right helmet for the right occasion, and of course color is important too. Werner Paddles was a new sponsor this year and I am so glad to have them! I love my Werner paddles!  Are you getting the hint I just went through my gear when I made out the sponsor list?  I did!  New this year are KIND bars.  I love these bars! 3M provided the gift bags of various products again for the fourth year.  Thanks so much to all our sponsors who donated so generously!

Then the fun begins!  This year the Verm was the highest it has ever been during a clean up!  A very strong rain event happened on precisely the right day to bump the river to peak precisely on our clean up day!  Yes we had another spontaneous sponsor from above! With the river running at insane levels for the third time this year the brave paddled the mighty Verm.  The incredible played the mighty Verm at this level! A few beers were cracked in the parking lot and it was the end of  another great clean up!  Thank you to all that came and made this the special day with special friends that it is! Good times!

Click on any photo to enlarge it for detail.

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