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MO River Camp And Float Trip

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

no time to explore Clark's Hill. The Lewis and Clark expedition stopped at this rock outcrop near the mouth of the Osage River to make celestial observations and measure the width of the two rivers. Elegantly carved initials, believed by some to be those of two expedition members, still can be seen at the base of the bluff.

Noon

From the shore of Smoky Waters Conservation Area, not far from the historic site, two campers wave to us from the door of a green and purple tent.

Clouds are fading, and with them my worries fade, too. Everyone is in high spirits. The inch or so of rain that fell last night won't raise the water level enough to encroach on our intended campsite. Things are going to be OK. I have cut the engine and am drifting, absorbing the majesty of river bluffs and valleys that Lewis might have described as "a beautiful prospect."

12:45 p.m.

My boat is tracing lazy, drifting circles in the current. Guiness is having the time of her life swimming after a great blue heron that took off from a wing dike as we floated past.

Everyone seems content as we drift downstream, occasionally using paddles or motors to maneuver or add speed to the 3- or 4-mile-per-hour current of the main channel.

1 p.m.

A pair of sleek, long-beaked birds with black-and-white plumage just cruised past. Several of us wondered if they could be interior least terns, an endangered species that nests on sand bars. Jim, our resident bird expert, says they are Forester's terns.

So far, we have seen no sign of the barges for which the Corps of Engineers has narrowed and straightened the river, creating a 9-foot deep navigation channel.

2 p.m.

We have pulled up on a mud bank to stretch our legs and eat sandwiches for lunch. We're about 12 miles downstream from our starting point, still 17 miles from our evening campsite. We are ready to relax. It's nice in the shade, and we linger, sharing the morning's experiences.

3:30 p.m.

Still no sign of barges, but we're seeing lots of recreational boats. We were all amazed when three big, Miami Vice-style speedboats hurtled past a few minutes ago.

Besides the cigarette boats, we have seen a pontoon house boat, a couple of fishing boats and a number of people in different motor boats sightseeing. A jug-line

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