People were STARING.  They could have been pointing too, though I didn’t actually see it.  You’d think they’d never seen a home-made sledge stacked high with trash being dragged across the beach before…

So that’s a bit of the cart before the horse, so let me begin again.  Nicholas McGill (lastofthechivalrous) started things off.  Thinking about it, he started way before the actual event, by signing up for the Tough Mudder scheduled for September 2011.  I followed and joined his team as part of my Path To Fitness last year.  Micah and Dave rounded out the team and we all committed to training.  Nicholas wanted to get some team building going, and suggested a Road Trip to Point Reyes.  Micah and I joined in and off we went.

We camped at Samuel P. Taylor Park after searching around for a site.  Being up in the trees was great.  The raccoons not so much.  Even though we knew better there had been food left around and they definitely got into it.  Interesting in that it nearly put them into a protein coma, so they didn’t leave very quickly.

The next day was set aside for Training and after driving around fairly aimlessly we pulled over at Abott’s Lagoon Trailhead and decided to hike to the beach.  It was only 1.3 miles and the first part was all gravel, leveled and graded.  This devolved into a rutted path near a cow pasture, but was still pretty.  Arriving at the beach we skirted the area reserved for the Snowy Plover and set off along the strand.  We wandered around, along the bluffs created by the tides, and Micah caught (and tried to make out with) the Sand Crabs.


That’s where Nicholas picked up an old float from among the flotsam and jetsam washed up on the shore.  He laughingly said he’d be leaving it in his Dad’s truck as a way to flabbergast him.  Then he found another and we began noticing just how much crap there was on the beach and it was ‘on’.  We all began combing the beach, picking up trash large and small, putting littler things inside of bigger things and collecting, collecting, collecting until all of us had our arms full.  OK we said, now what?  We settled on a dump site where it would at least all be together and continued on our merry way.

Funny though; once you’ve begun to notice the detritus you just can’t NOT see it anymore.  No one that knows me would accuse me of being a ‘green’ person or taking on causes, however…the sight of this litter all over the place was galling, at least for me.  I guess for the other guys too because we all continued picking stuff up.

Luckily one of the things we dug out of the sand was a large sheet of VisQueen and when we got back to our cache, arms once more full, we were able to tie most of it up in a bundle.  Taking turns with the bundle we started back, picking up more and more trash.  Then it happened.

Nicholas said “Couldn’t we make a travois (he didn’t know this word, but it’s what he meant) that we could put everything on so we can just haul it?”  Lo and behold, a pallet ‘appeared’ before us and we quickly lashed the trash to it, attached the ropes we’d unearthed and started dragging it along the beach.

Sounds great?  Not so much.  No matter what angles we tried the nose dug into the sand and we were quickly dragging as much extra weight as the whole load itself.  And Nicholas spoke up again, saying “There’s GOT to be something we can attach to the front that will let the pallet glide better.”  Scanning the beach what did we see but a section of phone pole, wrapped with a semi-rigid plastic sheet.  We raced over, grabbed the pole and started pulling and prying at the plastic.  Weathering caused the nails to loosen and shortly we had a three quarter circle about four feet wide THAT FIT RIGHT OVER THE FRONT OF THE PALLET.  Providence!

Suddenly dragging the sledge became MUCH easier and the three of us were laughing, stopping to pick up more trash and, evidently, creating a spectacle because that’s when folks started staring (and pointing).  And you know, it just wasn’t enough for Nicholas, who said “If only we had a tire.  A BIG tire to throw on top would be SO COOL!”  And you know that one appeared, but this wasn’t just any tire.  It was a Truck Tire.  A truck tire with the WHEEL.  Can you say heavy?

But hey, we were being studs and we rolled that big sucker over, tossed it on top of the load and off we went.  To more staring since we were laughing, and now were back to straining at the increased weight.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the trip back.  Suffice to say that there were challenges going uphill and especially over the rutted path.  The cows were staring.  Oh yeah, lifting the pallet overhead proved to be a ‘bad idea’ too.

But here’s what chaps my ass.  Back at the parking lot we stopped and took some photos and when some tourists came by asked them to get us in a picture.  In their Northern European accents they said yes, but wanted to know “Why?  Why are you doing this?”  Really?  Did we need to explain that all of this crap doesn’t belong on the beach?  And it gets worse…

Another couple showed up, returning from the beach as we were tossing our collection into the dumpster.  They stopped to talk and said they were happy with out effort but that “We saw all kinds of trash along our way too.”  Now I KNOW that at least some of that was stuff dropped from our load but my, unspoken, question was “So where is the stuff?  You mean you just left it there?”

Hiking on the beach with my pals:  Fun

Picking up trash and using it as a training and straining exercise:  Rewarding

Recognizing that people at best have blinders on and at worst can see but just not give a damn:  Priceless

Check out the full gallery for more shenanigans

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