Finding Flow on the Mighty MO

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Published on: Jun. 17, 2013

communities and conservation area boat ramps along the way, which make the river incredibly accessible for paddlers and also easy for ground crews to meet up with paddlers throughout the race.

The Missouri River has long been a testing ground for man against nature. This dates back most famously to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with their stories of trials and tribulations. John Colter, one-time member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, became a legendary mountain man traveling its headwaters. Daniel Boone is credited with opening up the Missouri River valley for pioneers. He used the conduit of the Missouri River for both living a life full of exploration and for exploits that further refined his character through wilderness epics and challenges overcome there. Later waves of explorers were also defined in part by the river.

Author John Niehardt wrote, “In the history of the Missouri River there were hundreds of these heroes, these builders of the epic West… They thirsted in deserts, hungered in the wilderness, froze in the blizzards, died with the plagues, and were massacred by the savages. Yet they conquered. Heroes of an unwritten epic! And their pathway to defeat and victory was the Missouri River.”

This wild river has changed since those early days, but our need to test ourselves on wild rivers has not. Today the Missouri River still offers a wilderness setting to sharpen your mettle. Niehardt wrote, “If you wish to have your epic spiced with the glamour of kings, the history of the Missouri River will not fail you.” MR340 paddlers are dipping into a deep river, indeed.

The Real River Comes Out at Night

At 6:45 p.m., I paddle through the Waverly checkpoint, and push on to Miami. I reach Miami just after mid-night, 105 miles into the race. Day 2, I pass through the Glasgow checkpoint at noon, and am back in the boat within 45 minutes. I’m 141 miles from Kansas City, and all my thoughts are on reaching Jefferson City 82 miles downriver today if possible.

Just past Glasgow, a megaphone blasts, “Brett from Rocheport, number 1024, go get ’em!” From a shaded porch high on the forested bank, someone is cheering us on. They find our boat numbers on the race roster and shout words of encouragement as each paddler goes by. Whoever you are, thank you!

Near dusk on Day 2, the heat of the

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