Recon teams had ventured out the day before. Now it was time to send in the special ops, including my son and I.
On Saturday we were part of an elite seven-person squad, code name Trailer Trash.
Our mission was to hit the "beach" on the St. Louis County side of the Missouri River, work our way inland, toward a foot bridge, bag trash, eliminate hostiles - mostly bottles and cans - and rendezvous at oh-eleven-hundred.
Saturday marked the fourth time since 2003 that Missouri River Relief has come to St. Charles to clean up the river and nearby Katy Trail.
In all, there were about 130 volunteer trash commandos supplementing a core of 18 organizers from throughout the state.
The blitzkrieg was planned for May 12 but was postponed because heavy rain had made the river high and dangerous.
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On Saturday the concern wasn't river level. It was heat. The temperature would hit 98 degrees.
Our gear included water bottles. I wore a hiking belt with compartments for two. Long pants. Sun screen. Sturdy shoes. Baseball caps.
We were supplied with work gloves and life vests. And then we were briefed.
A large map showed what we were up against. The map indicated type of debris - construction, auto parts, plastic - and the mile-marker for the enemy's last known position.
We were instructed to partner up.
My 17-year-old son pointed to his eyes and then at me - similar to the scene in "Meet the Parents" - to indicate he would be watching my back.
We were told not to lift items too heavy, to stay out of the river and to not touch anything if we stumbled upon a "crime scene."
A crime scene? What kind of crime scene?
Medical waste. Or drugs. Or people with drugs.
We would sweep through rather secluded areas and sometimes people like to do illegal things in rather secluded areas.
We boarded our boat - one of six used Saturday - at the launch at the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Nature Center. We met Skipper Vicki Richmond, of Kansas City, who has worked several clean-ups along the Missouri River.
She recounted her transcendent environmental moment: the day she released an endangered species, a pallid sturgeon, back into the river.
We went about a half-mile down river and hit a rocky beach about 50 yards wide and opposite the Foundry Art Centre. We tossed our vests back into the boat.
Before our skipper departed I asked for a mission review; Vicki provided a rather detailed response.
"We're gonna need a map," my son quipped.
We worked the beach. It seemed like every time I bent down to pick up a shard of glass I noticed another dozen smaller shards.
We grabbed our industrial-sized, bright-blue trash bags and headed inland. We followed a dirt trail and then a creek bank. In a secluded area we found a few bottles and an empty container of a material used by hunters to mask their scent.
We crossed the footbridge and scouted the short trails leading off the bike path to spots overlooking the Big Muddy.
In general, the more scenic the overlook the more trash. It was mostly cans and bottles for soda, water and beer. We snatched numerous Styrofoam containers used to hold bait.
We filled our bag and set it along the shore for later pick-up. We sat in the shade and drank water and did our best to identify the steeples of St. Charles.
On our walk back we picked up part of a plow. We added it to our group's collection of metal, including a rusty meat cleaver.
We gathered at the beach after about 90 minutes. All things considered, the weather wasn't bad.
Justin Skoryi, 25, of St. Charles, was drenched, but not from sweat. A riverbank gave way and before he knew it he was chest deep in the Missouri River.
Our other team members were the Travers family - Lynn and Eileen and their 15-year-old daughter Michelle - from Hazelwood, and Ryan Monton, from Columbia, Ill.
Saturday's trash manifest included 81 tires, three refrigerators, three bicycles, three meat cleavers, two freezers, a hot water heater, various parts of a 1961 Chevy Impala, a washer and dryer, a patio table and one head of a Ken doll.
"It was a very successful day," says Jeff Barrow, event coordinator. "Mainly because nobody passed out from heat exhaustion.
"We had a pretty good haul this year - because of the high water in May," he says.
He compared river clean-ups to barn raisings.
"You work as part of a team to do something good," he says.
"The river has bigger problems than just litter. There are pollutants from storm water run-off. And we are losing species. But with those problems people sometimes feel powerless. But what they can do is go out and pick up trash. And that's a good feeling."