This past Sunday saw a community effort, called The Escarpment Project to clean up various spots along the Niagara Escarpment here in Hamilton. Decided to volunteer for the Chedoke Gorge, since it was the spot closest to me, and also one I’m rather fond of. I’ve cleaned up various spots I frequent around here, and I could go and clean any spot at any time, but it seemed like a good thing to participate in a larger group effort.
Although, me being me, I never really participated in the larger group effort. I got there early in the morning, several hours before the official start time, and went off on my own. One of the updates on this had mentioned something about the City saying there were places people shouldn’t go, and team leaders would direct people where they could go. I sort of get why they say that: some of the terrain in these gorges is pretty serious, some of the really steep sides are a fragile eco-system, and a bunch of well meaning but clueless teenage urbanites could either damage something or get themselves seriously hurt. I’m really comfortable out in the woods, know what to avoid tromping all over, and knew what spots I really needed to clean from past experience. Fearing that officious busy bodies would tell me not to go there, I just went off on my own. The weather also looked a bit iffy early in the morning, and I had a thought they might call it off.
A photo taken of the Chedoke Gorge the week before from above. The mouth of it is a long way off from here.
The mouth of the Chedoke Gorge.
Lower Chedoke Falls.
Looking back towards the mouth.
Just to give a sense of the size of some of the boulders I had to clamber over and around.
The pack I took with me. Kifaru Express with the CargoChair attached. This terrain is a challenge to move through with both hands free – I knew I didn’t want to tackle it with a big bag full of garbage in my hands. Strapping it to the pack was the smart way to go.
Atop the Lower Chedoke Falls
Nice spot for a break.
Looking further up the Gorge, with the Upper Chedoke Falls in the distance.
One of the many things I found: a rusted and busted bicycle. No idea how long it had been there, but a gorge filled with boulders that get shoved around by the forces of water and erosion, meant it was stuck in there. Jutting partially out of the ground, I had to give up trying to get more than that out because it had been shoved up against a jumble of boulders, then smashed into by other rocks and boulders and layers of sedimentation, for potentially years or decades.
Other than this, I freed a jumble of fencing, barbed wire and fence posts from the stream, and found an endless array of cans and plastic bottles and a bunch of other junk.
On the hunt for more crap. The jumble of rocks made for lots of hiding spots.
I found a can with the two tabs you had to push in - the little one at the back for air to go in, and the bigger one at the front to drink from. They stopped making them in the early 80s I think.
There’s a spot right near here that is a shitbag party pit. Spent a lot of time cleaning up broken glass there. I get wanting to sit in nature and have a drink. But if they can bring a full bottle in, why can they not bring the empty one out? Did I mention that I really hate people sometimes?
Managed to fill a bin liner. Considerably larger than the pack itself, the terrific Kifaru CargoChair made it much safer and easier to move over the rocks and boulders.
What you can’t see are the chunks of aluminum and steel I moved down and out of the gorge by hurling them ahead of me, walking to where they were, chucking them forward, and so on. Took me a while, but every little bit helps.
As I was heading out, the other volunteers were just starting.
Hauled it all out to the official collection point, signed the CYA permission/liability slip, mainly just so I could be added to the official count of how many people participated. Which was apparently over 400. Disappointed to find out that this was not one of the places that free food and Starbucks coffee was being handed out to volunteers. D’oh!
An article in the local paper about the event.