The thought of paddling the Missouri River has intrigued me for a few years now. Anytime I'd drive over the Jefferson City Bridge I would peer down below hoping to catch a glimpse of a canoe or kayak, just a tiny colored speck in the middle of the vast, sparkling waterway. Last weekend I was one of those specks, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
The intimidation of the Missouri River can be unnerving at first. As North America's longest river, it is also immensely wide and swift. What would provoke someone to jump in their tiny boat to tackle the current? In my opinion, the reason cannot be described, but only experienced. Pictures don't even do it justice. It is truly an adventure you will never forget.
My first experience up close with the Missouri River and its paddling survivors was during the MR340 race at the Jefferson City checkpoint in July. Clusters of boats would come and go, paddled by the blistered hands of participants who were sunburnt, hungry, and I assume most of all, exhausted. Despite their woes, everyone was in good spirits. This is when I discovered the camaraderie and companionship of the paddling community.
Paddle MO is a float on the Missouri River hosted by Stream Teams United that starts at Hermann, Mo. and ends at the Confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. I was able to participate in this event alongside skilled paddlers for my first time on the Big Muddy. Here is a glimpse of what we experienced:
Each day on this trip was saturated with opportunities to learn more about the Missouri River Valley. I embarked on this journey in a 30-foot wooden voyager canoe named Junebug I with six other people including our tour guide Michael Clark and Dolly the dog. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, we were provided wholesome, delicious meals at local river town restaurants. We also had a chance to visit community shops and celebrations.
This extraordinary exploration of the Missouri River and thriving towns nearby provided me with insight about the relationship that other natural resources, wildlife, and even people have to the river. It was an opportunity that I will always treasure.
You can continue to follow my 100 Missouri Miles journey as I explore Missouri’s greatest trails and waterways here. If you have a suggestion about where I should go next in Missouri, tweet me at @100MoMiles and don’t forget to join me in the challenge! Whether you run, walk, bike, ride, swim, hike, paddle, or roll, sign up today to start logging your miles and earning digital badges as you reach accomplishments. If I can do it, you can too!