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Tag: Loess Hills

More Loess Hills

I woke up early in my camp along the Missouri River, quickly packed up and headed out to the road.

View from my tent door

View from my tent door

This was a beautiful day for hiking, mild, with only a light wind in my face. Yesterday there was often a strong wind directly in my face so this was a pleasant change. It was a good day for animals. I saw many cottontail rabbits, heard countless thousands of frogs, saw wild turkeys and many bluewing teal and mallards.

For a long way the route paralleled the interstate at a reasonable distance. but much of the of the day the road I hiked closely followed the edge of the Loess Hills. Perhaps for the first time on this trip I got a glimpse of what appeared to be the American West, with some open hilltops covered by cedar trees in places, where it would seem mule deer would live rather than whitetails.

The air was often heavy with the smell of sweet blossoms including fruit trees and various other bushes and trees that I can’t identify.

In Pacific Junction there was quite a bit going on but the place I was hoping to get a burger was closed and when I asked there was no store, no gas station that sold food, or any other place to buy something to eat. That was OK, I had some of my own food left. Just then a bicycle with panniers came by. I have been watching for fellow travelers of the Lewis and Clark Trail so I yelled to him:
“Are you biking the Lewis and Clark Trail?” He appeared not to hear me and kept going. He stopped a short distance away. I went over there and asked again.

“Yes, if you can call it that,” he said. “They never mentioned the gravel on that last section. Do you know where the trail turns off here?”

I quickly glanced at my phone to verify. “See where that white truck is turning? It should be on that street.” He walked across the street and talked to a lady for a while to ask her the same thing. When he came back he said
“I don’t know any more than when I first talked to her. Maybe the post office will know.”

Well, actually I knew myself, and I had told him, but that seemed to have no effect, nor did he seem to have any interest when I told him that I was traveling the Trail myself.

He wasn’t having fun on his adventure, and unless I miss my guess, he won’t be having any fun until his attitude changes.

It definitely wasn’t the excited conversation of comeraderie I had expected when I first met my fellow travelers of the Lewis and Clark Trail!

Many miles later I was walking down the road enjoying the hills and the frogs and the blossoms and the scenery when I glanced down and saw a full giant jar of olives lying alongside the road. I was about ready to take a break so I found a nice shady spot and carried my prize over there. I was going to eat my fill of olives! When I opened the jar, though, the seal was broken. I’m sure they were fine, but I wasn’t starving so I sadly dumped them out. Some raccoon or possum was going to have a feast.




In late afternoon I walked between a huge seed oil plant, some kind of Google installation, and on the other side the Loess Hills. I walked a few more miles until I found some nice forested country in the Hills. I started looking for a flat place to camp, kept climbing and climbing until finally I got to the main ridge.

I’m camped at the most beautiful campsite of the entire trip, pictured above. I can see to Omaha and far into Nebraska. My tent is set up on a narrow ridgeline barely wide enough to be safe. There are native grasses here, having never been plowed, and it’s all cedar trees. It looks just like a campsite out West, until I look out onto the flats and then it looks like farm country of the Midwest. Tomorrow I’ll pass through Council Bluffs.


July 21st Satturday…at about 7 oClock the wind Seased and it Commenced raining passed many Sand bars opposit or in the Mouth of the Great River Plate…a great number of wolves about us all night R. Fields killed a Deer hard wind N. W. cold


21st July from the experiments and observations we were enabled to make with rispect to the comparative velocities of the courants of the rivers Mississippi Missouri and Plat it results that a vessel will float in the Mississippi below the entrance of the Missouri at the rate of four miles an hour. in the Missouri from it’s junction with the Mississsippi to the entrance of the Osage river from 51/ 2 to 6 from thence to the mouth of the Kanzas from 61/ 2 to 7. from thence to the Platte 51/ 2 while the Plat is at least 8.—The Missouri above the junction of the river plat is equal to about 31/ 2 miles an hour

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

Along the Loess Hills

I heard that most of the area got 2″ of rain. My guess is it rained at least that much at my camp in three hours. No wonder it wasn’t soaking in!

Since my sleeping bag stayed dry I would have been fine camping last night, but what a luxury  getting getting all cleaned up and everything perfectly dried, and to simply relax, surf some TV and not worry about putting in a full day’s hiking.

I got breakfast and then I went to Wendy’s and got several burgers to eat later. Sure looked like it was going to rain, and as a matter of fact it did a little bit, but the forecast was essentially correct, it didn’t amount to anything.

Not far down the road I was somewhat surprised to see one of the first walkers since I left the Katy Trail. He was walking along the edge of the field which seemed somewhat silly to me since it was so muddy. As I passed him he hailed me and came on over. Like most people, one of the first things he asked is where I was heading. When I told him, he said that he had been traveling for three years. We talked briefly and I wished him well and headed down the road.

He caught up with me as I turned on the side road and started heading north with me. From that point on I was mainly thinking about the best way to politely extricate myself from the situation.

For a couple of hours he told an endless series of stories of living on the road. He didn’t appear to be a drunk or a druggie, he seemed to be a fellow with mild mental problems who simply found it easier to live the homeless lifestyle than to deal with a more conventional existence. He had no belongings that I could see other then a nice waterproof jacket, long shorts, and sandals. Apparently people would give him various things: clothes, a sleeping bag, a tent, and he would either lose them or just simply get tired of carrying them and throw them away. His favorite story was trying to befriend a seal on the coast in California and the seal nipped him. He went and got a fish from a fisherman, gave it to the seal and then the seal let him pet him. He had stories of jumping freight trains, sneaking on greyhound buses and on and etc.

Happily we parted on good terms and he headed off down the road on his own, no money, no belongings, no real plan, just relying on fate.

All day long I walked between the Loess Hills and the Missouri River, the two maybe 5 miles apart. Apparently glaciers ground vast amounts of powdery soil, and when they retreated, winds created vast dunes east of the Missouri River area, the heaviest materials forming the Loess Hills, about 200 miles long north-south in Iowa and Missouri.

As I have on other adventures, I listened to recordings of “This American Life” including two of my favorites, one entitled “Break Up” and the other entitled “Separated at Birth.” I highly recommend downloading and listening to them both.

Somehow today I got separated from my neck shade  that hangs down from my cap and protects the sides of my face and back of my neck from the sun. I used sunscreen today but I definitely want some kind of replacement.

It’s a beautiful evening and I’m camped a along the Missouri River, across from the L&C camp of July 20. The low sun is glittering off the fast current. Sticks are floating by. Countless frogs are calling and occasionally a bald eagle flies past.

Missouri River Camp

Missouri River Camp


July 20th Friday 1804…I went on Shore took R Fields with me and went up this Creek Several miles & crossed thro the plains to the river above with the view of finding Elk, we walked all day through those praries without Seeing any, I killed an emence large yellow Wolf-The Countrey throu which we walked after leaveing the Creek was good land covered with Grass interspersed with Groves…

From this evenings incampment a man may walk to the Pane Village on the S bank of the Platt River in two days, and to the Otteaus in one day all those Indians are Situated on the South bank of the Plate River, as those Indians are now out in the praries following & Hunting the buffalow, I fear we will not See them.

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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