13. June 2014 · Comments Off on National Trails Day 2014 – Steck Park Trash Pick Up · Categories: Work Parties and Projects · Tags: , , ,
The gang picking up trash

The gang picking up trash


National Trails Day 2014

What: Trash pickup

Where:  Steck Park to Crazy Lady Gate

When: June 7th – National Trails Day 10:30 AM – completion

Potluck at my place after the project

Latex gloves = highly recommended

BYOB (bring your own bags)

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This was our second year spending National Trails day picking up trash along the Snake River from Steck Park to the red gate – or as I now call it: “Crazy Lady Gate.”  It would be hard to top last year’s adventure and frankly, that would be perfectly fine with me. If you would like to know why – follow this link to last years story of “The Crazy Lady of Steck Park”

Janine, Lou Ann and Nancy trailer-pooled to my house Saturday morning. I had spotted Rob’s trailer heading for the park at 8:00 AM while on the ditch setting my irrigation water. He was either real excited to start this project or he miscalculated the traveling time. Either way, he took advantage of his early arrival by napping.

The girls and I were a little late in leaving my place.  A cool breeze billowed through the open windows – the fridge jammed full of delectable food temped all to skip the project and head straight into the pot-luck. Surely we could come up with some excuse as to why we didn’t show up on the river. Conscious got the better of us, however, and the girls followed me to the park on a road made of washboards and dust.

There was a slight failure in communication at the trail-head. Rob and Bob parked at the old Dutchmen’s corrals on the hill before the boat-dock. I figured since we weren’t camping- I‘d park at the boat-dock to avoid the cattle guard.  Janine parked somewhere in the middle for the sake of democracy. I think she might be running for office in the near future.

It’s about 5 miles from the boat-dock to Crazy Lady Gate. The sun was high over-head and hot. Hotter than last year at this time for sure or maybe it was the long sleeve shirt I wore. I still had a few spots of poison ivy on my forearms that flare up when exposed to the sun. Whichever it was – I was crankier than Lou Ann’s palomino mare, Brandi.

Bob, Rob and Nancy walked most of the five miles to Crazy Lady Gate. Lou, Janine and I rode into coves before dismounting to pick up trash. This year’s winning trash items were plastic water bottles,  bait containers and used toilet paper (hence the highly recommended latex glove).

Stinking catfish carcasses – cans of stale Keystone doubling as spittoons and the ever popular streams of toilet paper were about all this germ-a-phobe could handle for one hot, poison ivy covered day.  “This is just stupid. Whose idea was this anyway? This is a dumb project.  Littering should be a hanging offence right up there with horse thieving.” If the others had known what a bad mood I was in, they would have pinned a red ribbon to the back of my pants as a warning like they do horses that kick. I felt like kicking something!

It’s hard to stay in a bad mood for long with Janine and Lou for company. “Hey Laurie, your hat matches Lou Ann’s shirt,” Said Janine. “It does, and my hat matches Janine’s shirt!” Said Lou Ann. “Hey… and my hat matches your shirt, Laurie.” Janine says. “I know, let’s all trade hat’s and swap horses and see how long it takes the rest of them to notice!” Seriously…next ride – we are doing it.

We stopped to chase a herd of cattle before turning into the next cove. Correction, we would never chase those cows (in case there are any ranchers reading this). We merely moved them to the opposite side of the road from the cove so they didn’t come after me and kill me as soon as I dismounted. I’m telling you – it can happen. Actually, Janine and Kiger moved the cows. Lou and I hung back and watched from afar. Both of our horses understand the imminent danger lurking within a bovine herd.

Janine moving cows

Janine moving cows

We somehow picked up Bob in the second to last cove. Nancy and Rob had gone on ahead to the last cove at Crazy Lady Gate.  Lou and I rode on to meet Rob and Nancy while Bob and Janine turned back to spare Kigers’ hooves. The road is five miles of sharp rock that can cause even a shod horse to gimp a little.

Rob and Nancy had taken care of Crazy Lady Cove by the time Lou and I got there. We rode back toward the park, picking up Janine and Bob on the way. Rob said he would let the park host know where we had left the garbage bags. Last year, the camp hosts were grateful that we had spent the day picking up trash and happily went back after the bags. This year’s camp host was not at all impressed. He let Rob know that it was not part of his host duties and under no circumstances was he taking his four-wheeler out of official park boundaries. Funny, he looked like he could use the exercise. I’d go after the garbage later that evening.

We made it back to my place just in time to watch California Chrome almost become the first horse in 36 years to win the Triple Crown…almost. I sympathized with owner Steve Coburn’s emotional outburst. A Triple Crown winner would have been a huge shot in the arm for a sport that has lost popularity over the last 40 years.

After everyone left, I hooked my small utility trailer to my four-wheeler and Shade and I drove the 25 miles to Crazy Lazy gate. The trailer bounced and rattled over every wash-board and pot-hole on the planet. Fishermen and campers stopped to stare: “Nothing to see here folks – move along…move along.”

Several times the jarring bounced the back rail off the trailer and I had to go back for it. One such time I looked back and a group of cows had gathered around it as it lay in the dirt. I suppose they were curious. A big momma cow pawed and gave it a rough nudge. “Hey – I need that ….SHOOO!” Not one of them cows “SHOOO’d” an inch. Now what? I had to have that back rail or all the garbage would bounce out before I got home.  “Shade – get them cows out of here!” Shade lunged for the cows. Most of them moved. The big momma cow ducked her head and chased Shade back toward the four-wheeler. Here she comes, shaking her head with fire and smoke billowing out of her nostrils. You are on your own dog – I jumped on the Honda and sped up the hill as Shade clamored onto the seat behind me. Momma cow gave up the chase and meandered back to her mob. Shade and I warily coasted back down the hill to retrieve the rail.

Shade on her Four-Wheeler

Shade on her Four-Wheeler


The trailer wasn’t as bouncy or noisy with the weight of the trash bags in it but that didn’t stop the fishermen and campers from staring as we rambled by the various campgrounds.  I secretly hoped I’d meet the camp host when I drove through the park. I had concocted a story to tell him about how, while picking up the bags, I found a duffle bag full of drug money. I sure was glad he wasn’t allowed to take his four-wheeler out of the camp or he would have found it instead!

Shade and I made it home before dark – a good thing since the trailer doesn’t have lights. I parked the stinking pile of trash far from my front door where it would sit until the dump opened on Tuesday. I counted the number of bags we’d picked up; 13 bags – less than half of what we picked up last year. Maybe that was a good thing – maybe we made a dent in it last year or people were littering less.

A contest was in order. There would be a major REWARD for the first person to guess the correct number of large black plastic trash bags I’d put in my trailer. Luckily for me – nobody won the contest…I had no idea what the major REWARD would have been. However, if it wouldn’t have been major – it most certainly would have been unique. I’m thinking a box of latex gloves and a quart of hand sanitizer.

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