On Saturday, April 9th, Jess and I headed for Tallulah Fest, a small kayaking festival hosted by BBB Paddling in Long Creek, South Carolina that celebrates the Tallulah and Chattooga rivers.
When you go to a paddling festival, you would assume that paddling would be the main topic of conversation, right? I pictured beer-slinging boaters dazzling us with stories of their epic lines and gnarly carnage, but we quickly found that Tallulah Fest brought with it a much more diverse crowd. We met hikers and cyclists, kids and adults, outdoor enthusiasts from every walk of life.
The event marked the beginning of Blue Ridge Outdoors and Elevation Outdoors Magazines’ 2016 Live Outside and Play tour, so we were anxious to iron out the wrinkles of our newly acquired festival set-up.
Along with the festival, we also had a river clean up on the Chattooga River scheduled for the following day. We mustered as many folks as we could for a Sunday morning, given the late night shenanigans and the anticipation to paddle. You can imagine how difficult it is to get people excited to pick up trash with the Tallulah Gorge going off. We were able to recruit 5 enthusiastic stewards though, and together we travelled to the Route 76 Bridge just downstream of the Bull Sluice rapid on the Chattooga River. Well-used local beaches, parking areas, and trails were in dire need of some attention.
It’s a strange feeling to pick up other people’s trash. I constantly ask myself what must be running through the minds of the people who let litter fly wherever they see fit. Does it get easier to throw a bottle into the woods or roll a tire off a cliff? Does it ever feel wrong to flick a cigarette butt along the trail?
After two hours of wrestling overgrown brush and thorns, we collected 10 bags of trash, a tire, a mangled pile of rusty metal, a traffic cone, an oil pan, and a bagful of dirty diapers. We were fortunate to meet local spectators of the Chattooga River who graciously offered to load their flatbed truck and haul the trash to the county dump for us.
There’s nothing glorious about picking up trash out of the woods, but as boaters and locals shouted “thanks” as they passed by, we couldn’t help but feel like we were making some difference, no matter how small.
Big thanks goes out to our trash crew Grayson, Meg, Drew, Jordan, and Kev, Tallulah Fest, and Farm to Feet for supporting our efforts.
– Adam R.