MO River Camp And Float Trip
and the main channel. Ankle- to waist-deep water meanders among the bars, creating the sort of braided channel that once occupied most of the river's 1- to 2-mile-wide valley.
Cook fires are burning and a feast is taking shape. Everyone brought more food than they need, and the meal has turned into a drawn-out potluck featuring grilled steaks, boiled jumbo shrimp, seafood jambalaya, chili mac, bratwurst and, of course, catfish. Dessert is Dutch oven cinnamon rolls.
As the fire burns down to coals, we talk about the day. We generally agree that a shorter float would have been less taxing and allowed time for more river fun.
A torrential shower chases everyone into their tents. The storm lasted only 20 minutes or so, but by then the drone of rain had been replaced by the drone of snoring. Dan and I decide to fish for awhile, and the campfire recaptures a few night owls. Their voices seem loud against the hushed gurgle of the river. The stars, peeking through the parting clouds, are uncommonly vivid in a jet black sky.
Sunday - 7 a.m.
Laughter filters through the tent walls. I hear the hiss of a camp stove. I smell coffee. Someone is cooking breakfast.
Guiness, who apparently has been up for some time, is sitting by the tent door, staring at me. I let her out to do her business and mooch tidbits from the breakfast crowd.
I grab a breakfast bar and head for the campfire. Conversation revolves around today's float. Sixteen miles separate us and Hermann, our takeout point. "No sweat," I think. Then I remember that not everyone has a 6-horsepower helper.
A towboat - the first we have seen - slips downriver. The throbbing of its engines is so deep we feel it more than hear it. It is pushing a modest flotilla of three barges. One floats high in the water, obviously empty.
Most of the canoes are headed downstream, but a few linger to enjoy the cool morning breeze and see what "Old Man River" has washed up at the head of the island. They turn up bits of obsidian, flint flakes from Indian tool-making, a dozen chunks of petrified wood and an odd smattering of other fossils. One, an arm or leg bone of some medium-sized animal, is perfectly preserved, glossy black