Derecho Follow-Up - Saturday, August 22

Almost every day for the past few months I have walked with my “scurry” around Cherry Lake in Tama. We generally walk in the morning before the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes get too bad. We finally got power back on Thursday evening, August 20, so on Friday morning, August 21, 2020, we walked for the first time since the derecho of August 10. It was actually more like an obstacle course than our usual stroll, but we still managed to collect quite a bit of trash, as usual. There were about a dozen places around the lake, a trail that is about 1.33 miles long, where fallen trees required that we climb over or weave around. It’s no fun to do either, especially since the “weaving” sometimes involved venturing off-trail into the poison ivy. Makes me itch just thinking about it.

At the west end of Cherry Lake I placed a bench and engraved rock as a memorial for my parents, and my son, Ian. The most recent, pre-derecho photo of the rock and bench was taken on a “scurry” walk around the lake early this Spring. Portions of scurry-partners Jeff Shaw, and the hind-quarters of four-legged scurry member, Titan Edward, can be seen in this photo from that excursion.

McFate Memorial Bench at Cherry Lake - Early Spring 2020
McFate Memorial Bench at Cherry Lake - Early Spring 2020

On the south side of the lake – visible in the background of the photo above – the trail runs parallel to a road that leads to a brush pile where Tama residents can dump tree limbs, brush and leaves collected from their yard. There’s been a LOT of that lately! On this occasion a friend of our, Charlie Betz, was hauling a pickup-load of derecho debris to the brush pile and stopped briefly to chat. Charlie suggested that someday soon he would return with his chainsaw to begin clearing deadfall from the trail. We told him to let us know when, and we’d see if we could come help. Well, that “when” was 7 AM the next day, Saturday, August 22.

I arrived at the lake at 7 AM on the 22nd and found Charlie already there, preparing to fire up his saw. I brought my little 10” Ryobi cordless electric chainsaw and two fully-charged batteries. Jeff Shaw arrived about 20 minutes later and we proceeded to work our way counter-clockwise around the lake trail startring from the parking area on the east end of the lake. It was slow going, especially at first since the north side of the lake is, or was, densely wooded with some mature trees.

After three hours of cutting and tossing debris to the side of the trail, we reached my family’s memorial bench at the west end of the lake.

McFate Memorial Bench at Cherry Lake - After the Derecho
McFate Memorial Bench at Cherry Lake - After the Derecho

By this time we had waded through way too much PI, been briefly rained on, dulled Charlie’s chainsaw blade, and drained both of the saw batteries I had on hand. I think we were drained too. Time for a break, so at 10 AM we departed for some rest, lunch, fresh batteries, and hopefully a new chain for Charlie’s saw. We reconvened at Noon, as planned, and spent the next two hours clearing the deadfall around the McFate bench, plus a pair of gnarly monsters that had fallen across the trail near the southeast corner of the lake.

It felt really good to get it all done, and now we can engage in our “scurry” walks around the lake without all the bobbing and weaving required to navigate the obstacle course that was. Every good volunteer effort should conclude with a photo or two, so we got all cleaned up, NOT, and I shot this one.

The Post-Derecho Cherry Lake Trail Cleanup Crew - Me, Charlie, and Jeff
The Post-Derecho Cherry Lake Trail Cleanup Crew - Me, Charlie, and Jeff

That’s a warp. Until next time… but only after I’ve had a pleasant scurry walk in the morning.