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Tag: Lewis. and Clark Trail (page 3 of 5)

Rain and Serendipity

It poured rain last night but nary a drop reached my tent, tucked safely under my magnificent bridge. 

With the world soaked and dripping, it was a pleasure to pack up my dry stuff completely out of the rain. 

I walked past a gravel road on my way back to the paved road I was following, and saw a strange animal crossing.  I couldn’t tell what it was at first, it was moving slowly, I thought armadillo?? but then I recognized it was a big snapping turtle. In this shot his long neck is retracted.  

Snapping  Turtle

Snapping Turtle


I walked into Nemaha. I saw a sign “Coffee and Donuts.” When I got closer I saw a red neon sign illuminated and another sign that says open 7 AM, the current time 7:30! Another sign said “Closed Monday.” Today, Monday. Bummer. 

There were many muddy footprints crossing the road, from deer, raccoons and possums. I soon found out the dirt shoulder was extremely muddy for humans too, so I avoided walking in the dirt as much as possible. 

Muddy Footprints

Muddy Footprints

It began raining and continued
to rain like it meant business. My best information said there was a café in Brownsville and so I was putting in the miles as quickly as I could to get myself breakfast and to get out of the rain. When I got there I turned and went down what looked to be the main street. There was an old man outside. 

“Is there a café here?” I asked. 

“Yep it’s right there. Closed on Mondays though.”

Well it could’ve been much, much, worse. Just a few steps away were covered picnic tables, so I sat down there and got out of the rain and got myself some cold breakfast, getting out of my wet rain gear and putting on my warm jacket and balaklava.  

Brownville Break

Brownville Break


Here, my route joined the Steamboat Trace, another old railroad track turned into a hiking and biking trail. For miles and miles I once again had the world to myself, walking a wide path paralleling the Missouri River. The only downside was the continued pouring rain. I’ve heard many people say that it doesn’t matter if you get wet from the inside (from sweat), or the outside; in other words, raingear doesn’t really do any good, but I’m here to tell you that today would have been a mighty chilly day without rain gear. 

The trail reached a long series of sandstone cliffs where people have been signing their names and working on their art for decades. I’m guessing that somewhere under all that “Sandy and Jeff 1972” there was some Indian artwork at one time. It was actually pretty interesting, the earliest I saw I was about 1907 but I’m sure there was more ancient stuff there, and some of the artwork showed talent. Some didn’t. 

Peru was the last of the three towns that I was hoping to get some supplies from. I noticed for the first time that the only store that I was aware was at the south south end of town, while my route arrived on the opposite end. I would have to backtrack about a mile and a half. I would rather go hungry for a half a day than walk 3 miles round-trip to get food.  I stood there with rain streaming off me when I spotted another covered pavilion with picnic tables. 

I used my iPhone for one last attempt to find some other business that might have food. The Chamber of Commerce had a grocery store listed. When I searched for it I found it was only about four blocks away. On the way I came to an open bar and grill!!! I opened the door and was enveloped by the warm air. 

The waitress told me to sit anywhere, and said they had a special on some kind of chicken cheese-melt sandwich. Let me tell you that chicken sandwich was epic and it came with a huge plate of curly fries and I got hot tea instead of a pop. After the hours and hours and hours of tromping down a wet trail in the cold rain, getting out of my wet rain gear and eating some hot food was a wonderful treat. 

A chubby teenager was sitting at the bar with his dad, boldly looking at me with a smug look on his face, amused at the guy who came in all wet. I stared back at him until he looked away.  

The waitress and later the cook were asking me about my walk and were very friendly and interested. 

“You walked from ST LOUIS?” The cook asked, incredulous. “How far are you headed?”

“Hopefully the Pacific.” Despite my bedraggled appearance, he was envious. 

They gave me warm wishes of good luck when I left. 

The grocery store was on the same block, a small place with plenty of choices. When I was stuffing my haul into my pack, a long rip suddenly appeared in the extension collar of the pack. Bad news on a rainy day. I’ve got a closed-cell sit pad I keep on top, it made a good shingle to keep the rain out. 

I’d just gotten back to the trail when serendipity struck again. A free campground! With dry, three-sided shelters!  Nearby the pavilion with running water and bathrooms! 

I’d already put in decent miles. I chose a shelter and took a nap, then spent an hour repairing my pack with a needle, dental floss and duct tape. This pack has nearly two thru-hikes worth of miles on it, the light materials eventually give.

Except for the pack ripping I had some extraordinary luck later in the day! Colter


Sunday July 15th This evening I discovered that my Chronometer had stoped, nor can I assign any cause for this accedent; she had been wound up the preceding noon as usual. This is the third instance in which this instrument has stopt in a similar manner since she nas been in my possession, tho the first only since our departure from the River Dubois.


July 15th Sunday 1804. a heavy fog this morning which Detained us untill 7 oClock, put Drewyer Sgt. Floyd on Shore, at 9 I took two Men and went on Shore, with a view to Kill Some elk, passed thro open plains, and barroney lands Crossed three butifull Small Streams of water, Saw great quantity of Cherres Plums, Grapes & Berries of Difft. Kinds, the lands Generally of a good quallity, on the Streams the wood escapes the fire,

Trip overview and route map with position updates: 


Nebraska, Ticks and Terrorist

Dawn was reddening when I looked outside. I noticed a wood tick on the screen. When I looked around I saw another one and another one. There must’ve been a half a dozen visible.


wood ticks

Wood Ticks at Dawn

I have another ultralight shelter in which there is screen going down to the ground, but the floor is open. In my opinion that’s an extremely silly design. For a few more ounces, you can prevent the wood ticks from crawling underneath as well as ants and various other crawling insects. Happily this shelter is fully enclosed or I would’ve had wood ticks inside for sure.

I believe this was the most pleasant morning since the Katy Trail. There was almost no traffic and for a long way I walked along the river, it was cool calm and beautiful.


cottonwood tree

Cottonwood and Vines

I reached the border of Nebraska. As always I’m delighted to walk into a new state, but I was sorry to see Kansas go; it was two, short, fun days.


Nebraska Sign

Nebraska Sign

Today two rooster pheasants flew up from nearby, an invasive species that most people, including myself, are happy with. A wild turkey also flew up and disappeared. Yesterday I saw one take off and it may have flown over the Missouri River after disappearing behind the trees. It’s amazing how well such a large bird can fly.

I walked along the Rulo levee which was even more like the Katy Trail.  I had the whole world to myself.

Rulo has seen better days. Whatever it had been relying on economically, presumably river trade of some kind, has changed, many houses are gone many others are falling into disrepair. I saw an open bar and asked a couple people going inside if they serve burgers, and they said they did.

I looked over the menu and in a spirit of adventure I ordered the carp basket. Undoubtedly carp can be prepared so it is good. Those things were not done to this carp. This carp tasted like you’d expect a carp to taste. Even the fries failed to meet my very low standards. Still it was good to get off my feet and get a hot meal.

Farmers have been planting like mad the last few days in Missouri and Kansas and Nebraska, using giant planters, the likes of which I never saw as a kid growing up on a Minnesota farm.

It was about 9 miles to Fall City so I decided to walk an hour at a time, in other words, 3 miles at a shot. I had just reached my mile marker where I would get my break when a sheriff’s car pulled up. The deputy introduced himself professionally.

“We got a report of a man in camo in a ditch with a gun,” he said. “Would that of been you down the road a few miles about an hour ago?”

“I was taking a break in the ditch exactly an hour ago.” I said. “I’m sure that was me they reported. Some people have active imaginations.”

“Yeah,” he said “no camo and no gun.” Unlike the Missouri Trooper, he knew this was the Lewis and Clark Trail and clearly knew there was nothing going on, but he still called in my license, apparently S.O.P. He made small talk. A good guy.

You know what though? I don’t like it.  I don’t like it when people think walking down the road is suspicious.  I don’t like having to prove that I am innocent when there’s no good reason to believe I’m guilty of something.  And I don’t like having my name run through a database, just for drill. I just don’t like it.

But for every busybody worry-wart who sees snipers in the ditch, there are 1000 nice people. At that very break spot a car pulled over just to ask if I needed anything. After the cop check somebody pulled over to ask if I wanted a ride. When I got to the edge of Fall City a lady pulled over and said there is a great camp spot, the State Park by the lake. Later she saw me at the burger place and said she’d give me a ride over there. That was awfully nice of her, but I’d already decided that I wanted to get my laundry done and to get a good shower and to kick it in a motel tonight.

I checked my route and made my best guess as to where I can resupply next, then stopped at the grocery store and bought about two days worth of stuff.  Buck aka Colter

Clark, July 12, 1804

“I went on Shore, & passed thro the plain passed Several noles to the top of a high artificial Noal from the top of this noal I had an emence, extensive & pleaseing prospect, of the Countrey around, I could See the meandering of the Little River for at least 10 miles winding thro a meadow of 15 or 20000 acres of high bottom land covered with Grass about 41/ 2 feet high, the high lands which rose irregularly, & were toped with Mounds or antent Graves which is to me a Strong evidence of this Countrey haveing been thickly Settled-.

…on the side of a clift Sand Stone 1/ 2 me. up & on Lower Side I marked my name & day of the month near an Indian Mark or Image of animals & a boat Tried Willard for Sleeping on his post, our hunters killed some Deer, Saw Elk & Buffalow.”

[note, I passed this spot but did I don’t know if Clarks name has been found. Archaeology had shown that he was right that the land had once been thickly settled.]

Trip overview and route map with position updates:


It was a fine campsite last night, without a dew. It was mild and calm when I stepped back out on the road and headed north.

I was soon walking in shirt sleeves (and pants) cranking out miles.

Turkey vultures were sunning themselves on this barn roof.  The road turned west. Ahead loomed bluffs on the other side of the river. Kansas!

Turkey vultures sunning on barn

Turkey vultures sunning on barn

It takes me an hour to do three miles, and I reached the bridge in an hour and a half.

The bridge signs said:




There were wide shoulders and light traffic so the crossing was enjoyable.

Missouri at Atchison

Railroad bridge, Kansas border, Missouri River

I immediately liked the town. My enthusiasm zoomed when I saw a buffet at a pizza place, opening in… 5 minutes!

It was a fine salad bar and good pizza. The pizza ladies asked what I was up to and were excited about the trip.

With over 50 miles of no resupply ahead of me I headed over to the grocery store then started walking through town. There were dozens of cool old houses, porches, columns, turrets.

A guy mowing the roadside ditches with a tractor hopped off to talk to me. He’d seen me way over in Missouri and said he’d just texted his friend, saying I must have done 20 miles today already. Not yet, but a trip like this is his dream.

I was getting lots of waves and was offered a couple of rides. The friendliest stretch of the trail so far!

At about 21 miles I was feeling perky but I’d looked at the aerial photo and there was nothing for camping for nearly 10 more miles except for this nice patch of woods. And here I camp.


30th June Satturday 1804 Set out verry early this morning, a verry large wolf Came to the bank and looked at us this morning,

July 1st 1804, last night one of the Sentinals Chang’d either a man or Beast, which run off, all prepared for action…we delayed three hours, the day being excessively hot, Turkeys are plenty on the Shore, G. Drewyer inform that he Saw PueCanns Trees on S. S. yesterday great quantities of raspburies an Grapes

July 3

…we halted at an old Tradeing house, here we found a verry fat horse, which appears to have been lost a long time a butifull Small run passes back of the Tradeing house near the high land, we came to at a round bend on the L. S. and Camped

July 4th Wednesday 1804…a Snake bit Jo. Fields on the Side of his foot which Swelled much, apply Barks to the wound…as this Creek has no name, and this day is the 4th of July, we name this Independance us. Creek…The Plains of this countrey are covered with a Leek Green Grass, well calculated for the sweetest and most norushing hay-interspersed with Cops of trees, Spreding ther lofty branchs over Pools Springs or Brooks of fine water. Groops of Shrubs covered with the most delicious froot is to be seen in every direction, and nature appears to have exerted herself to butify the Senery by the variety of flours Delicately and highly flavered raised above the Grass, which Strikes & profumes the Sensation, and amuses the mind throws it into Conjecterng the cause of So magnificent a Senerey in a Country thus Situated far removed from the Sivilised world to be enjoyed by nothing but the Buffalo Elk Deer & Bear in which it abounds & Savage Indians

Trip overview and route map with position updates:


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