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Sierra Club newsletter - click on and blow up to see
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Sierra Club newsletter
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Saturday, 23-Oct-2004 00:00
Sierra Club Float Trip
We took part in a float trip on the Little Maumelle River with the Sierra Club on this day. Yes, I am back-dating this entry to match the actual day we did the trip because it took us a while to receive the newsletter with the write-up and picture and even longer to be able to scan it to upload it. But, finally we have been able to do so! This is, in fact, the only time I have ever back-dated an entry (and have never future-dated one) - what a cool feature! (But one I don't believe I will use often, as I prefer working in real time.)

Anyway, as the newsletter says, we worked with the Forestry Service (who provided all the equipment and were very nice) and the group of us cleaned up all the litter out of the river along that stretch before we pulled out and had our lunch before loading back up. The thing that made it interesting were that there was some sort of race going on (we just moved out of the way for the racers and let them by - mostly college students) in which they had to canoe, hike, and bike for this endurance-type race. And each team had to include at last one female. Pretty cool. But, boy were some of them tired already! I wouldn't even try it at my age. Sad, but true. :-S

Well, I guess there was another interesting, well I suppose I would actually say funny, thing about this trip. Some of these people had never before gone canoeing! It was fun to watch them try and learn to work together and not run into and over things or go in uncontrolled circles, or even backwards! But, they were dedicated and got better as we made our way down the river. Canoeing has to be done as a team effort for it to work properly. And the more the team works together, the better they are at it. We were put in the lead once the real leader of the group, Bill Saunders, saw that we were experienced and worked well together. Others then could see better what we did and how and were better able to follow, as we had the rule of everyone staying in sight of each other at all times, for obvious safety reasons. The only thing we didn't like about this float was that it was so short. It seemed that we had just put in before we got to the get-out spot. We prefer longer floats, sometimes even overnighters, camping out on the river, but I guess when you are dealing with inexperienced beginners, you keep it easy so that they have fun, too. All in all, we did enjoy ourselves, and it was a rewarding experience to clean up that river!

I have to admit that I am still learning myself. Luckily, Laura has done it quite a few times and is helping me learn, but that didn't stop me from tipping over our canoe once and dumping some of our gear into the river. We did retrieve 90% of it, and I learned a valuable lesson. And, hey, you have to take into account that the reason it happened was that we came around a curve and there was a tree that had fallen all the way across the river that was only about a foot or two above the river level. Laura rightly ducked, but I wrongly grabbed the tree, ignorantly trying to stop us in the belief that I could, but only succeeded in turning us sideways and dumping her right in, along with some of the gear that she was frantically trying to grab and put back in there while at the same time right the canoe before more fell out. She is a real trooper. I would have freaked and gotten very mad, but she took it in stride and turned it into a lesson. Needless to say, I learned that valuable lesson that day, and it is a mistake that won't be repeated. We then brought the canoe to the bank and carried it around the tree, after dumping all the water out and repacking our gear properly. Luckily, she didn't hold it against me for long and was in pretty good spirits about the whole thing, laughing LOL at me a lot, though. We were upset about the gear we lost, though. Not just for ourselves, but because we littered the river. We are very careful about that and always pick up whatever trash we see that others have left whenever we go on a float trip, coming back every time with a whole bag full of trash. Normally everything in our canoe its tied down tight, but we had just undone something to get something out of it (can't for the life of me remember what now) and hadn't managed to get it back tied down. Oops! We won't make that mistake again, either.

Anyway, we wanted to be able to show you the pic of us on this trip and in the Sierra Club newsletter. I am actually writing this entry on 6-8-05, and we will be doing another float trip very, very soon - this time on our very own river - the Ouachita. We will be hosting it, in fact, with people camping here and setting off from here and floating to Oden, picking up litter. Much longer float that will take all day. No beginners on this one. Smaller group, too. Bill Saunder wants to scout it out before he tries to expand it to include others to make sure it won't be too much for beginners - probably will though - some decent rapids on this one! I haven't even floated this section, so it will be new to me. I only did the section form Cherry Hill down to here. But Laura has done this one, and so has her mother, so it won't be new to them. We can't wait!

It will be a good way for us to check out how well our new patch job on our canoe holds up, too. Just got it back a couple of weeks ago and haven't had a chance to test it out in the water yet - too much rain, which means that the river has been too high, not to mention the fact that I have been busy building chicken yards and gardening. We will just have faith, I guess. Or do a lot of bailing! $-)

Never boring around here! Life in these woods always gives us something to do, especially when you have so many animals needing care and people just keep dumping them on you or you just keep on finding them in the road. What else can a caring person do but take them in?

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