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Month: March 2016 (Page 2 of 3)

Farm Country

It was near freezing last night with the humidity near 100%. Moisture condensed on the outside of my sleeping bag but I slept warm. Many coyotes were howling at times. 

Cliffs lined the right side of the trail for most of the day and I only saw about a half a dozen people on the trail. Huge, foggy fields lay on the floodplain towards the river in the early morning. Birds sang enthusiastically, including beautiful red cardinals. At one point I saw a pair of Cardinals and a pair bluebirds in the same tree, a few feet apart. A raccoon ran along a narrow ledge high on the cliff face. Luckily he was sure-footed. 

Just before 8 I reached a crossroads and was delighted to find an open cafe where I enjoyed biscuits and gravy with coffee. 
It turned into a beautiful day, sunny and mild. There is hardly an insect out yet. I saw a color phase of gray squirrel that I’ve never seen before. I would call him A “ghost squirrel,” grayish-white. The old architecture in this area of Missouri, which must’ve been one of the first areas settled, is very interesting. Most of the farmsteads today looked successful and neat with very nice houses and barns and grain bins. 

A good rule of thumb when you’re on long hikes and really hungry is the pizza place has just closed, won’t open for several hours, or is open tomorrow, or yesterday. The pizza place in Marthasville was closed as this was Monday. 

I tried the feed store hoping they would have some snacks, but they had nothing but animal feed. I plodded over to a gas station and they had a meager selection that was also expensive, but I grabbed a half-gallon of Rocky Road ice cream. I ate two thirds of it effortlessly, put the rest in a plastic bag wrapped in my jacket, and then a few miles later sat down by a pretty little bridge and polished off the rest of it, still half-frozen. 

Katy  Trail Bridge

Katy Trail Bridge

The Katy Trail is a real gem, well-maintained with nice benches every mile or so. The trailheads in small towns, maybe every 10 miles, have really interesting historical signs as well as maps of the trail. One of the few frustrations is the map displays have symbols for water sources, restaurants and grocery stores, yet none of those sources are actually plotted on the map. 

It could hardly be easier walking. The only thing making it difficult is my feet are still getting broken in and the nearly unvaried flat surface I believe, is considerably harder on feet and shins than a rolling or slightly uneven surface. 
I camped by a brook between the cliffs and river. 


end of the day

end of the day

Another 20 miles today. The Pacific ocean is still a long ways away, but each day adds up. 

Clark, May 25, 1804 

rain last night river fall Several inches… Passed a Creek Called R. La freeau at the pt. N 20 ° W 2 miles To a Small french Village called La Charatt of five families only, in the bend to the Starbord This is the Last Settlement of Whites…7 houses and as many families, Settled at this place to be convt. to hunt, & trade with the Indians…

Daniel Boone and the Corps of Discovery

A salute to Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall and a fine storyteller. I heard today that he passed away. 

Easter Sunday on the trail. My feet and legs felt great when I started walking, fully recovered from the day before. Few bicyclists out on the Katy Trail. I was trying to make about three cups of water last until I could get some more. I could always filter more from one of the streams if I needed to, of course. 

There were beautiful cliffs along the trail in places today. There’s a species of tree with violet-colored blossoms that contrasted nicely against the gray-brown cliff faces. 

trailside farm

trailside farm

The trail passed the spot where Daniel Boone lived in a small settlement in the final years of his life, along with his family. Many members of the settlement came down to meet the Lewis and Clark party but for some reason Daniel Boone wasn’t among them. It would’ve been a fascinating meeting of some of the continent’s greatest explorers. 

I arrived at the neat little town of Defiance expecting to get some water and perhaps some food but the town seemed to be closed down for the holiday. About 5 miles later I reached the small town of Augusta. My research had shown it had two small grocery stores and since I was down to maybe four tortillas and a little bit of peanut butter, I was anxious to get some more food. What I found though, after walking up the steep streets, is that one small store apparently was out of business and the other one had a “Closed for Easter” sign in the door. A few blocks later though, my luck changed, a restaurant had its lights on and I walked in to find it open and myself as the only customer. 

Defiance, MO

Defiance, MO

I ordered a salad and a excellent hot sandwich with a burger and fries to go, taking advantage of the Wi-Fi to update my journal and their electricity to recharge my smart phone and iPod. 

It’s been nice having the iPod. Some people say that they do adventures like this to escape things like electronics, but six months is a long time to live in your own head. I’ve enjoyed listening to This American Life and Prairie Home Companion and staying current on the news. 

It began raining when I was at the restaurant and continued to rain for the next few hours, the first real rain of the trip. It made the wind even colder, but with my good rain gear I was comfortable. 
I camped a little early, just shy of a 20 mile day, along a pleasant little brook in a very quiet spot, far from the nearest road. A wild turkey ran along the edge of the cliffs as I approached my site. It was a great feeling to take my shoes off and crawl into my warm sleeping bag.  

Clark May 23, 1804

Capt Lewis assended the hill which has peninsulis projecting in raged points to the river, and was near falling from a Peninsulia hard water all Day Saved himself by the assistance of his Knife…we passed a large Cave on the Lbd. Side about 120 feet wide 40 feet Deep & 20 feet high many different immages are Painted on the Rock at this place. the Inds & French pay omage. many nams are wrote on the rock, Stoped about one mile above for Capt Lewis who had assended the Clifts which is at the Said Cave 300 fee high, hanging over the Water, the water excessively Swift to day, we incamped below a Small Isld. in the Meadle of the river, Sent out two hunters, one Killed a Deer This evening we examined the arms and amunition found those mens arms in the perogue in bad order a fair evening Capt. Lewis near falling from the Pencelia of rocks 300 feet, he caught at 20 foot.

Clark May 24, 1804

we wer verry near loseing our Boat in Toeing She Struck the Sands the Violence of the Current was so great that the Toe roap Broke, the Boat turned Broadside, as the Current Washed the Sand from under her She wheeled & lodged on the bank below

Along the Katy Trail


Missouri river sunrise

Missouri river sunrise

 I had the trail to myself when I started walking. People in nearby farmhouses were still sleeping. Birds flitted and sang, squirrels scampered. 

I saw a place where beavers had been cutting trees during the spring floods. That’s assuming there aren’t 10 foot tall beavers around. 

St Charles was a beautiful town. The trail ran near the river past brick homes built in the 1800s. I began to see bicyclists enjoying the trail. 

I saw a number of red birds, some cardinals, and what looked to be, perhaps, scarlett tanagers. Binos would have helped. 

In places the trail ran next to the river where big cottonwoods grow and where annual spring floodwaters have only recently receded. In others it crossed fields, a pleasant variety in scenery. This has been one of the flattest sections of trail I’ve hiked. 

My feet were aching by the end of the day, which is to be expected this early in the hike. I did about twenty miles. My pack is so light, maybe  15 pounds with food and water, that my shoulders barely notice it. 

I found a nice spot for camping, near the river on dry sand dotted with fox and deer tracks, with many cottonwoods ringed by beaver. I made sure to pick a spot where a dead trees or branches wouldn’t hit me. It was a warm, dry, comfortable camp.  


Lewis May 20, 1804 …we set forward to that village [St Charles] in order to join my friend companion and fellow labourer Capt. William Clark who had previously arrived at that place with the party destined for the discovery of the interior of the continent of North America…[young men of St Charles] are frequently absent from their families or homes the term of six twelve or eighteen months and alwas subjected to severe and incessant labour, exposed to the ferosity of the lawless savages, the vicissitudes of weather and climate, and dependant on chance or accident alone for food, raiment or relief in the event of malady.

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