I got mad today, but I remembered something my daughter, Erin, taught me some thirteen years ago. I’ve learned a lot from both of my kids, Alex and Erin, but this one came from Erin. We had been backpacking for a few days in the Cohutta Wilderness and were on our way along the Jacks River toward the car, then only about three miles away. As we walked, we talked a lot about her experiences away at college, the beauty of the wilderness, and, I’m sure, other things that are now lost to me. Then we came upon a campsite that just made my blood boil. In the middle of this utter beauty, the campsite was littered with broken glass, cigarette packs, food containers, and feces, both horse and human. Because I had this naive idea that my seventeen year-old would be shocked, I managed to keep my language to just a moderately profane level. After I had carried on for a minute or two, I was snatched out of my rage by words I will never forget: “Daddy, what are you accomplishing?” That simple, but that profound. “What are you accomplishing?” So, we cleaned it up. And I have never forgotten the wisdom that my daughter shared with me.
About a mile downriver of George W. Andrews Lock and Dam, on river left, there is a beautiful sandbar… now. I’ll find a receptacle for the trash downriver somewhere. Thank you, Erin; it still feels good.