MO River Camp And Float Trip

Growing up in Jefferson City, I used to envy people who lived in the Ozarks. They have all those terrific float streams right outside their back doors. That was before I floated the Missouri River and discovered that one of the Show-Me State's premier float streams has been outside my back door all along.

Once I found out what I had been missing, I was eager to share it with friends, so I organized a two-day float trip. Like Meriwether Lewis & William Clark, who floated the river nearly 200 years ago, I kept a journal. Take a few minutes to relive the trip with us. If you're like most of the 2.8 million Missourians who live in counties adjoining our state's namesake river, you'll be surprised at what we found.

August 25 - 10:30 a.m.

A light drizzle is falling as I peer downstream from the Carl R. Noren Public Fishing Access, within sight of the State Capitol. Despite a temperature in the mid-60s, the air feels steamy.

I can barely see the last of our six canoes, which launched a few minutes earlier. They took off while John and I were driving back from Hermann, where we left two minivans and the canoe trailer. It's time to get on the water ourselves.

John, his daughter, Katherine, and I shove our boats into the current and start our motors. We are bringing up the rear for our party to lend a hand if needed and make sure no one falls too far behind. Besides John and 9-year-old Katherine, we have another father-daughter pair, Rick and Jenny, who is a recent college graduate. We also have two father-son pairs, Jim and Josh, a high school senior, and Dennis and Miles, age 10.

Two other canoeing teams - Joan and Martha, and Janet and Joe - are office friends. Rounding out our party of 16 is a pair of sisters, Carolyn and Tracy, plus Dan, who is leading the party in a motorized john boat. My boat mate is a golden retriever named Guiness.

Two and a half hours ago (our planned departure time), a sodden rain was dimpling the river's surface. We waited because the weather forecast said the rain was moving out. We didn't want to paddle 29 miles and cook our meals in a downpour.

11:30 a.m.

The worst thing about our late start is that it leaves us