Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Muddy Mo Adventure

Following our Jack's Fork river adventure, Nick and I are officially kayak-buddies. I'm thrilled he is enjoying it, because I can't get enough - I'd be out every weekend on some river if I could! Last weekend we traveled up to Sioux City to do a 23 mile stretch of the Missouri River. The forecast was perfect - light winds, mid-80's, and no chance of rain until after 7pm. We got a late start, around 12:30, but I figured we'd be able to average about 5 mph, so we should finish in under 5 hours or so, and still beat even the chance of rain. You can tell where this is going, can't you?!

 Starting out on the Muddy Mo

0 miles down, 23 to go!

The Missouri is muddy, hence its nickname, and doesn't have the clear water of the Jack's Fork. It's also a huge river - very wide most of the way, but nothing like a rapids anywhere. You spend a lot of your time just enjoying the scenery, and looking for barely-submerged sandbars so you don't get hung up.

You also spend a lot of time looking at the sky and worrying about storms. At about the 15 mile point or so, this storm blew in to add some excitement to the otherwise tame trip. It had started sprinkling a bit and the clouds were turning dark, so my eyes turned toward the shoreline to look for a good place to pull our boats out of the water. Most of the shoreline of the Missouri river is just steep banks carved out by the water, and there were simply no place to pull our boats out, so we kept going downriver. The rain picked up, but it was still just a shower and felt nice after baking in the sun for a couple of hours. But then the wind picked up to about 30 miles an hour at the same time the downpour began, and now we were searching for any small spot to get off the river. After just a few minutes a pontoon boat we had passed earlier came by and called out to see if we needed help. I called back that we didn't since we had just come upon some houses along the river with docks. Getting nearer the docks it was clear we could not get out of our tiny kayaks with the waves the storm had created, so continued downriver looking for a bit of shore to pull out on. After a couple of minutes we found some rocks right on the waterline that looked good to pull the boats out, and headed for them. We scrambled out of our kayaks and dragged them onto the rocks, and then we realized how lucky we had just gotten - a small, paved path led down to a few feet short of the rocks, and the bank was climbable. The path led to an covered picnic shelter for one of the houses 50 yards away, and we took our refuge there until the storm passed.

Once the rain and wind had left, we went back down to our boats (above) and emptied the water from them. Now we were back on our way down the river!

Above is a shot of an island just downriver from where we pulled out. You can see the storm clouds and rain that had passed us in the background.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, other than trying to make sure we knew when we were getting close to our take-out point. The smaller put-in and take-out points on the river are not well marked, and can be hard to see if you aren't looking closely. Fortunately, Melanie was right on top of things and was waiting for us on shore.

Here is the Endomondo track of our trip. It was a great trip, and a totally different experience than the smaller rivers of Missouri - the only kind I'd ever been on before. Next spring there is a 72-mile "race" along this same stretch of river - it starts further upriver near Yankton and ends around Sioux City. I'm seriously considering doing that run, and even though it is billed as a two-day trip/race, I wonder if it would be possible to do it in one shot... 72 mi / 5 mph = 14.5 hours, hmmm....

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