Cruising to Clean Up the Truckee River

Our Adventure of the Week blog series usually highlights athletic mountain pursuits, but this week’s adventure didn’t involve sweat or skill. Nope, instead of hitting Tahoe’s mountain bike trails primed from a night of rain I headed to an event our new partner Leave No Trace would be proud of.

WHO: Lis and Biking for a Better World friends

WHAT: Biking for a Better World’s Truckee River Clean Up

WHERE: The Truckee River, between Alpine Meadows and Tahoe City

WHEN: October 17, 2010

GEAR: Cruiser bike graciously donated for the cause by Olympic Bike Shop, bike basket to hold larger trash items, rain jacket, Patagonia Capilene 2, warm waterproof gloves for the bike ride plus a latex one for picking up the trash

The forecast was bleak, calling for a 90 percent chance of rain, so you could call those of us who turned out hard core about cleaning up the Truckee River. As Lake Tahoe’s only outlet, the river is especially important to our region. And as booze cruise–rafting central each summer and located alongside a highway, it’s sadly subject to quite a bit of trash.

So when my friend Kendra asked me to join her for the day, I couldn’t say no. And when I woke up to a soaked ground and more rain in the forecast, I had to buck up, put on my rain jacket and hope for the best. Lucky for us, the weather couldn’t have been better (except for our rainy bike ride home). The sun even came out for Duncan Sisson’s epic dive into the river to pick-up a drowned beer can. Egged on by our crew who together promised to donate $50 to his Biking for a Better World nonprofit, Duncan came through, despite barely being able to breathe in the super-cold water.

I don’t have any specific stats, but know I filled up 3+ plastic grocery bags to the point of overflow, plus a bike basket of larger items. Among our bounty were: a 6-pack of unopened beers, countless flip-flops, a Croc sandal, a lifejacket, dozens of plastic bags, two dirty diapers and a few abandoned bags of dog poop.

A few other highlights of the day included Clean Up participant Aaron Gaines, who was particularly indignant about the all the litter, throwing his hands to the sky, declaring “why God, why?” with every beer bottle collected. And Dan Hurley’s poundage of an unopened fruit punch Gatorade. One man’s trash is another man’s refreshment

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, bike, ski, surf, climb) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

3 thoughts on “Cruising to Clean Up the Truckee River”

  1. Oh, it seems I was mistaken about Aaron G’s reaction. Here’s the real account, just sent in to me:

    One idealistic young volunteer, Aaron G. of Tahoe City, visibly struggled with the implications of the scattered refuse relative to the existence of a loving god and to whether humankind should have been blessed with opposable thumbs at all. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he dropped to his knees in front of the first piece of litter he came across, which happened to be a Ziploc bag filled with Goldfish snack crackers. Recognizing the irony of a bag of fish-shaped treats having been dumped into an actual river, the innocent volunteer then threw his hands, fingers wrenched, towards the heavens and shouted angrily into the air, “THERE… IS… NO… GODDDDD!” before collapsing into a shuddering heap. In a sad display that continued for more than two hours, Aaron expressed the exact same reaction, with identical emotional intensity, at each further piece of garbage that he found.

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