September 23, 2009

Trash Patrol

If I were to name one characteristic that brings people back to float through Desolation Canyon year after year, it's gotta be the immaculate cleanliness of the canyon. However, the river corridor naturally collects trash items that come downstream when the water is high with spring run-off. This is mostly the result of people upstream that aren't necessarily thinking about what the consequences may be of depositing trash near the river or just being careless with their trash.
When the level of the elevated river flow drops it leaves these items sitting high and dry on beaches, or more often, stuck in driftwood piles, or on a difficult rocky shore. Most of the time the trash is just empty plastic bottles and cans. Stuff that most of the rafters will willingly haul out of the canyon and deposit in the dumpster. Occasionally a large trash item, like a refrigerator, will appear. Understandably, most rafters aren't willing or equipped to pack out such items. Once a year I like to do a trip that is dedicated to the removal of such large trash items. This year it was quite a challenge, not only because of what we needed to get out of the canyon, but also because of the nature of one of the rapids. At higher river flows the rapid at Cow Swim is not safely navigable with a boat rigged the way we needed to rig the junk boat.