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Lewis and Clark Modern Day Hike.

 
 
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Foreword

As a student at Benedictine College (Atchison, Ks.) during the early 90’s my friends often found me walking the bluffs on the historic campus. Benedictine College is a gem of campus overlooking a wide swath of the Missouri River valley stretching from Leavenworth to Saint Joseph. This Missouri river bed is home to hundreds of animals that as a Native Coloradan I had never seen. For example, a red Cardinal is a beautiful sight often taken for granted by many who see them on a daily basis. Their habitat does not include Colorado and when I stumbled across my first sighting walking the forests around the Missouri River, I reacted as if I had seen a pterodactyl, or a new species of bird. Thankfully, I never boasted about my cardinal discovery, but I did practice documenting/identifying animals I came across ranging from snakes, frogs, mammals and birds. Days upon days I ventured forth in the forested expanse and found limestone caves (which I splunked around) , monastery prohibited lands and the forested areas of the Missouri. At dusk I would walk out on the railroad bridge and scurry down onto one of its cement foundational blocks and sit and watch the barges come up river. I was amazed to see how fast the Missouri river flowed and some of the major debris it carried. I wondered what aquatic life was like below the murky waters.  On many of these excursions I stumbled across Lewis and Clark historic markings, the run of the mill signage often seen from highways. Many of these markings were on private property, overgrown by weeds and simply relics to an event that at the time was not commonly found in American minds. One day I decided to locate the campsite near Atchison where the expedition celebrated their first fourth of July while upon their journey. I followed historical markers down a dirt road that ended at the Missouri River. I got out of my car and began walking the edge of the river where I found another marker pointing to a field a hundred yards off. Adjacent to the field was a small farmhouse whose inhabitants obviously worked the land. I saw no sign of human life so I walked the field in ankle deep mud to the very center and made the assumption I was standing where the expedition celebrated the freedom of our great nation. To the naked eye, a guy standing in a muddy field is not necessarily inspiring…. but for me it was spiritual and I became one with the moment and significance of the past. No sooner after basking in history I became acutely aware of a large Rottweiler sprinting towards me from the farmhouse. Foam flying, mud kicking up behind him as he was intent on devouring me, or at least biting the shit out of my ankle. I thought about running, but in a split second decision realized that getting bit in the ass was not appealing either, so I faced the oncoming beast head on. For some reason I grabbed a handful of mud and as it was about ready to pounce I yelled as loud as I could,  threw the mud resulting in a defining moment in my life. The mud hit him square in the mouth causing him to gag and choke. Realizing this was a momentary pause until he figured out the mud was not going to kill him I found 20 seconds of courage. I got as big as I could with arms spread wide and started hollering. The next thing I new I began to chase the dog who decided that I was looney tunes as he began sprinting back to the farmhouse with his tail (nub) between his legs. In this moment I was the master of my own domain, I did not panic in the face of threatening situations and I felt more in control out in nature than I did in modern day life. This off campus excursion became entrenched in my psyche and stayed with me throughout my adult life. Years after I graduated I would escape from the trials and tribulation of life by opening the journals, reading books that came out sporadically (Undaunted Courage) and began to identify specific coordinates where historic conversations, decisions and events took place forever changing the landscape of the West. I reminisced about the days I walked on these lands, I imagined what it must have been like to be one of the Corps of Discovery walking alongside York, calling out to the their Newfoundland Seaman and observing “untapped” nature as never before. Then the grind of a career would halt my visions and melancholy often sent in as I began to realize I was born in the wrong time period.

Twenties years later as a father, husband and educator I heard their voices once again. Perhaps it what was the hangover from the Lewis and Clark hoopla that took place after their 200 year anniversary. Trails, parks, documentaries were abundant during this time period resulting in a re-awakening so to speak in the American identity of Lewis and Clark. I taught westward expansion in the high school U.S. History classes during the school year, but none seem to quench the thirst of exploration. Then one New Year’s Eve I was sitting amongst some neighbors having a cocktail, or two…or three… and we began talking about history and the past. I found the conversation extremely engaging that evening as those I sat with included military based families including paratroopers, Army Scouts, a Green Beret and a military Satellite expert. As the drinks loosened my tongue I began talking about my passion for Lewis and Clark and the experiences I had during my college days. I guess the stars aligned that evening as my audience was captivated by the accounts and the tradition of the past. I made the comment, “I wish I could hike, or boat, the whole journey in my life!” Followed by a comment from the Satellite expert Dave, “Let’s do it!” Thus, the dream of the next Lewis and Clark Expedition began and the new Corps of Discovery began!

Solvitur Ambulando and so it begins….

 It is solved by walking…..This is a modern day hike that will retrace the steps of Lewis and Clark. It is the intent of this hike to prove that portions of the frontier that once defined American ideology still exist and to document those places accordingly. It will take several years of careful planning and hard-work to complete this hike. Thanks for visiting. 
 

 Pre- thoughts. Tonight was amazing as I sat and talked with family, friends, and fellow explorers. I listened to people who gave advice, texted encouragement, and wished us luck. My fear is expectation itself. Even though this path is laid out, I know generally what to expect: I have no idea what lies in front of me, what weather shall overtake us, or if any tragedy is possible. I am almost certain this leg of our journey will be without incident, but uncertainty still exists. I believe the Corps of Discovery felt the same way, and like them I fear the unknown. In my opinion some frontiers have not been settled and pose similar dangers. As a result, the modern-day trek of Lewis and Clark expedition may pose more challenges today than ever before in history.

Travel Day. We arrived in Jefferson City at 10:30 am. It is very warm and muggy. Decided our finishing point will be at Jefferson’s statue on the Capital steps. The capital is a tribute to Jefferson, his foreboding statue stares out over the area we will be hiking. Should Jefferson be as credited as he was for this trek? Was it his idea alone? These things I will have to look at in depth. Everyone is in great spirit as we board the train to Kirkwood, Mo. Train ride is an experience. The “natives”, or locals of the area are well…. unique. We had the neo-punk American idol  family singing in front of the depot…and the vodka drinking, ice chewing, can I swear every other word lady talking on the phone like she owned the train. If not for her antics, I would be thoroughly enjoying  myself. The group decided to do a wait and see on how to get from Kirkwood to hotel. Eighteen miles and hiking is not until tomorrow. In a way, the expedition has begun.

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Day One

Spirits are high, left around 6:45 a.m., beautiful morning. Explored cave 5 miles into hike (Kari and I) it was steep hike but well worth view. The cave was more of an overhang. It had much use. Graffiti was prominent and burn marks existed on the ceiling. It was a very steep hike with a back pack had thought of Clark almost falling to his death shortly after their expedition began. Long hike ahead. Thought this morning was an adrenaline rush from the build up to hike. We went out fast, too fast by my account. Did L and C have a pace they allowed? What a day!

I called it, too fast. The Big Hike is killing us it is so hot and water is non-existent at each way-point. We do have purification tablets but the water looks suspect…….Men often became sick on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I wonder how often it was due to water. Ten miles in and feel like death. My feet hurt, shoulders are killing me, over 80 degrees in March, we bit off more than we can chew. Stopped at one of Lewis and Clarks site. Supposedly at this site Native Americans brought deer to this location for a small feast. What did natives feel about L and C at this site? Has there been any digs of this area? The place is probably off a bit, but it does have two connecting small streams that surround it much like the journal entry. Obviously, it is overgrown but looks as if this spot was legit.

The trail is well-defined but hot on the feet as it is gravel, we have 4 miles to go, stopped in Defiance and had the best Snickers ice cream bar and Gatorade ever, and got some advice from locals. Everyone is amazed at what we are doing. We are in Daniel Boone country. Why did he choose to settle here? I wonder if any of his descendants are still here? L and C never met him but did send men in to get supplies, much like we did. Still hurting badly. Kari and Jeremiah decided to take a ride from a local they met in Defiance. Local help connects to L and C as this area had spotty settlements that could provide aid if needed. Not much has changed. Kari is in bad shape with heat exhaustion. How often was heat exhaustion a factor on trail? Jeremiah carried two fifty pound packs over two miles to get her there. He is a beast. Dave, Aspen, and I proceeded on. We did find Daniel Boone’s judgement tree where he would decide land, property, and personal disputes amongst a plethora of cultures (Spanish, French, American, Native). The tree was toppled during a flood but the stump was there. Sitting on it gave you perspective. Beautiful land, river in the distance. One of few elms in the area. Having the ability to solve problems that is much like the land, simple but challenging. Could you imagine the significance of this tree? Daniel Boone sat here and defined the frontier as he judged disputes between the Natives, French, and possibly Spanish. How much influence did he have in a region with natives, spanish, and english settlers? At this point Dave, Aspen, and I were looking for motivation at this spot and we found it. We continued to walk into the beauty of dusk. It was an awesome sunset. Frogs were everywhere, many small brown bats feasting on the flying bugs, thank goodness no mosquitos. We walked into camp on the front end and disappointingly had to walk two miles more. Our spirits sank.

We made it at 9:00 pm, fours hours late two persons short. I am worried about my group. Today killed them (as well as me). There was a huge feeling of frustration in camp tonight, three members could not talk, one member had to get ride from a local the last five miles (her husband went with her for safety). I did not want to leave anyone behind. Blisters, heat exhaustion, and muscle cramps ruled the night.

Two things came from this. Lewis and Clark with corps of discovery were a different breed. Sure they were in a boat; but they had to row, pull boats off sandbars, and many walked the shoreline without a path like we had today. How did they do this? Second, this was the most grueling test of my endurance I have ever had. I will go on tomorrow and I hope I am joined by my friends. How did Lewis and Clark maintain morale daily of their group? I realize it was a military operation, how well-trained were the men? I must research that when I get home.

Conclusion of the day: the frontier like conditions of the trail are still as dangerous because mother nature dictates the day, and man’s physical ability can only do so much. These two factors have always and still will be present on the frontier. I also feel that the tedious planning of Lewis was brilliant. I packed way too much of needless items, and not enough of the important items. Did he pack too much? Assumption, such as water stops are a big mistake, prep for the fact there is always no water. As hard as it was, I will not ever forget today. I want to thank my fellow explorers for their valiant effort, (Kari and Aspen) help (Jeremiah when we got to camp), and humor (Dave for taking my mind off the pain.)

New Animal: Cranes, finches, robins, turkey vultures, cardinals, blue jays, sparrow, geese, wrens, possibly oriole. Reptiles: 4 snakes (2 different types) 3 grass snakes, 1 aggressive baby brown snake tbd, box turtles, bull frog, a gold-colored frog. Mammals: squirrels (brown/grey), dogs, bats.

Corresponding Lewis and Clark Journals:

l and c 087Day Two

Woke to the sounds of silence and tension. The group was extremely sore and tired from the first day. The result of poor planning (on my part) added 3-4 miles on our 24 mile hike. We did closer to 28 miles our first day, that is not smart! Wondering who would join me today was stressful as I wanted all to be involved, but could sense that was not happening.

Historical sites were few and far between on the journey for today, it is about a half a mile off the Lewis and Clark trail and was situated in farmland, open fields and bluffs in the distant. Not as scenic as the first day. It rained lightly and was cloudy with temps in 50’s to 60′ s. Jeremiah and Dave decided to make the trek with me. Kari and Aspen took a ride with a local native, our new buddy, Brock. I found I was not efficient as L and C probably were at packing the campsite, it was a learning experience. What was typical expedition breakfast? Our breakfast was light, oatmeal and fruit ready to go.

Walking with these two men was educational; both army men I listened to the lingo of their careers. As Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery were military men I imagined the same type dialogue took place during the expedition. Stories of training, humor, fear, and experiences made the walk pass quickly. The military world fascinates me with its discipline and protocol. These two men had lived that life and were successful. I felt like I was walking with men from the past who had walked with Lewis and Clark. The conversation was captivating and interesting, as well as making the time pass quickly. Made it in good time, but still hurt badly. However I was in better shape than the crew. Dave was a hurting machine, his feet hurt badly as his shoes seemed to be creating pressure on his toes. I wonder how many foot problems L and C had? Jeremiah was good until the end, the humidity and rain had taken its toll, he was chaffing so bad he could hardly walk.

Our one big challenge for the day was how to cross the river into Washington to meet Kari and Aspen for lunch. I had thought about this challenge in planning as well. No pedestrian walkway, no railroad bridge, and a high traffic area. Hitchhiking was my ultimate solution, but why not do as L and C did and depend on the Natives. Contacted Kari and asked if Brock our local native could ferry us across the bridge via his truck. His truck became our boat… problem solved.

Lunch was good and it is good to be done earlier today. I ate a hot meal at local restaurant, I found it odd how hungry I was during the hike and then it disappeared when I sat to eat. My stomach was shrinking, or filled with water. The group is in pain and with several injuries; knees, muscles, and dehydration. Awkwardly, they presented the idea to me that they go camp in Hermann and I walk to them each section. They will still follow my progress the next two days and become a  support team  for me. I will finish this leg on my own. I felt bad  as I thought my poor planning led the group to this decision, but  Kari brought to my attention  no one knew what to expect so planning or not, it is what it is. What roles did individuals have on expedition? How did they support each other? I have a great group of friends and fellow hikers. Thoughts came to mind, how will I manage alone and I hope I can make it, this expedition has become a personal quest against the frontier.

This was a great evening when I finally got to camp. Tin Mill Brewery stayed open just for us thanks to the great owners and staff of Tin Mill. Jody was so kind and gracious in serving us as well as educating us on the area. She talked about the floods, L and C events and history of the town. That is the norm of the trip, from Brock who helped our expedition by transporting the injured, Jody our Tin Mill rep, Missouri natives consistently go above the call of duty. The campsite is set, food is cooking; tonight has a completely different atmosphere, life is good.

New Animals (other than previous notations), additions white crane-like bird…pelican possibly. Did see four turkey vultures fighting over a carcass of a dog or coyote in a field. Snails were everywhere.

Corresponding Lewis and Clark Journals:

 

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Day Three

On my own…… Wow it is early (5:00 a.m.). Everyone is still asleep and I am going to get out of here as quietly as possible. I have to go through the town about 1.5 miles and across a bridge to get to the Katy Trail.  It was fun walking through the town  alone this morning, not a soul in sight. I am anxious about today, but I do like to be alone as well. I brought plenty of food, water, and music if needed. Got lost once on the way out of town, missed a bridge interchange and then tried to take shortcut across a tributary to river. Thought about trying to find a tree to bridge but found a trail across. What a sunrise, temps are pleasant and cool.

As stated I had trouble getting out of town as it was a longer walk than I expected, left at 5:45 am. Beautiful morning is all around-it is simply overwhelming. The smell in the air, birds, ducks, slight breeze at my back what a good feeling. Body feels good as well. I miss my friends and their conversations, but I am so in tune with nature maybe it has made me forget about pain. Many ducks and birds, came across the first sighting of a cow. I am about 1.2 mile off their actual trail, but I am sure hunters and maybe L and C explored these bluffs. It would be interested to read a journal account from someone that consistently hunted the shores, or did they rotate this? I have made it to Rhineland. Rhineland is a victim of the unsettled attacks from mother nature, and proof that the frontier river life is still unpredictable. The town has been moved…yes moved further from the river as it flooded annually. I could imagine water all the way from the river at this point, probably the way L and C saw it as the river’s course has been altered over the decades. I wonder if I could find a comparison map of how the river has changed since L and C?

Just got into Portland what an amazing walk from Rhineland. My legs and feet are killing me now. It felt good to sit down in the sun (60 degrees, but windy) took my shoes off and rub my feet. I was so inspired by this leg, and I am sad as I have only five miles to go. I cannot describe it any better than L and C did in their journals. It was the most beautiful trek of the expedition. High cliffs one side, Missouri on the other (20 yards apart). Cliff swallows as Lewis reported circled and dive bombed my head. One new reptile-small lizard in cliff rocks. Found a tick crawling on my neck. Cool weather, walking straight into gusty west winds. L and C would have had a tough time on the river today. Have not seen one person on trail, pretty remote areas. I know a frontier has to have zero to extremely minimal population to classify, since I walked miles today through forest and bluffs without seeing a home, or person, it would seem to qualify. However, it is state protected land therefore no homes probably can be built.

I stumbled across another Lewis and Clark campsite nothing major to state about this area. The campsites are celebrated by signage, not much more. However, I did come across a large sandstone rock that was a flood measuring tool over the last century. Where was this rock when L and C came across it? The earliest date I thought I could make out was 1835 yet the only decisive date that was evident (earliest) was 1903, and it showed the level of water on the rock. In my mind I believed it stood majestically up on a bluff and Lewis and Clark gazed upon it. I wonder if there is any description in their journal? Through erosion and flooding it fell at some point and became a landmark for those who traveled the river.

Made it at 3:56 pm to Steedman, not what I expected, it is  dismal and abandoned. Actually creepy town, almost ghostly. Feet are destroyed. Just called team and they will be here in 45 minutes to take me back to camp in Hermann, I will be dropped off here tomorrow to start again.

Today was spiritual. I saw no one on the trail, bad conditions existed by the end of the day, and the wind was horrendous. I read about L and C becoming separated from the group for a whole day, as well as Private Whitehouse who was missing in action as he was exploring a magnificent cave (he caught up later). I would like to read more of Whitehouse journals. Today I was these men. This would be a good L and C day to research for writing.

I used every sense I had as I walked and explored. Sight-for the elusive deer. Smell as some of the fields smoldered from controlled burns. Hearing- as I tried to pinpoint the rat-a-tat of the woodpecker in the trees. Touch as the flood measuring rock left residue in your hand. Taste- from the magical snickers I ate at Rhineland. All of it cannot be topped by the scenery today; cliffs on one side with the Missouri 20 yards on the other. I walked in a solitude I have not had in sometime. Lewis and Clark must have been in awe of this area-it is amazing.

I missed my friends today badly, my feet have multiple blisters, I am dead. I would not trade today for anything. I have no idea how I will make it tomorrow but I will try.

New Animal: woodpecker, muskrat, possum, lizard, rabbit, cow, horse, canine.

Corresponding Lewis and Clark Journals:

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Day Four

Not going to say much, left at 5:30 am, it was spooky by myself. For some reason Blair Witch clips kept running through my head. I have made it to Tebetts, 12 miles to go, 36 degrees with sleet/snow, what a difference from day one. I am a hurting machine. If I do not feel better in three miles I am going to have team pick me up. Today has been no fun at all. Open fields and very little wildlife.

Six miles to go. I wonder if L and C had days like this?

Made it, I am hurting bad. As for wildlife a pack of wild dogs came after me. One received a nice welt from my walking stick. The mom and her full grown pups did not like me. Nothing new in regards to wildlife. A farmer asked me how far I had been walking and I told him since St. Charles, he asked what was wrong with me?

Here are some of my final thoughts on leg one of this expedition. I was so thankful to see the Jefferson City sign and Capital on the hill.

Today was not historical research. It was about finishing a goal in a specific time frame. L and C had that same agenda  and they had state of the art technology to use at their discretion. What they found was the unsettled frontier would present unforeseen obstacles that would challenge them to their very core. These events will be documented in comparison to this modern expedition. With this foundation I will prove the frontier is still there in spirit, and some aspects are even more dangerous than during L and C time, even with technology and modernization. Mother nature, mans fortitude, and chance are the equalizing factors that prove that an unsettled country still exists.

As I walked the last mile I fell victim to the same obstacles my friends and Lewis and Clark did. One day 80, today 35 degrees. Injuries, sickness, insufficient maps, or manpower changed the course of our goal, and in the conflict between man’s physical capabilities and the frontier’s ally; mother nature, the frontier will always exist to test one’s soul.

The last mile I did not care about nature, research, or Lewis and Clark. I wanted to make it to Jefferson City, and that was it. I hurt worse than ever in my life, my feet torn from the trek, and right when I made the decision to stop and go no further, the Jefferson City sign was in front of me. Thank God I proceeded on….this phrase was so common in their journals, now I know why. Not only did I stumble upon educational tools, but I found something deep inside me that spans the years to L and C, the faith and strength to withstand anything set in front of me. You cannot begin to comprehend how hard this endeavor for them must have been, until you try to walk in their footsteps. Strangely it was as if the spirits of L and C became a part of me.

New Animals: Chipmunk, black squirrel.

Entry Seven

 

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Day Five

I am becoming tougher. The pains of the first week of the hike seem to be diminishing. I will be journeying with two fellow teachers on parts of this hike, Colleen Barry and Rick Corriel. A 40 mile jaunt ahead of us. Leg One-Hartsburg to Katfish Katies Campground. Scenery today was beautiful, temps cold in the wind, warm in the sun by the cliffs. Once again was walking amongst cliffs and river side by side. It was breathtaking at times. Wildlife was the same as usual, nothing new…cardinals, snakes, and signs of deer. We came across many small caves that Lewis and Clark noted in their journals. One in particular site was “pierced rock”, best way I can describe it is a fingers giving the OK sign. It stood on a bluff just as Lewis and Clark would have seen it. In their journals this area was noted as “Manitou” and in the expedition slowed to the obstacles of the river. Also, somewhere on the river a painting was visible of a devil that the natives had painted symbolically. Made it to Coopers campground which was extremely interesting. A community of RV’s surrounded a home where a man sold beer, snacks, and had a Thai kitchen. He stated, there is nothing like this place in the world, is there? This man was not much different than those before him, he relied on the river as a means to maintain a livelihood. Thought this might be a good place to camp at some point. Unfortunately no hot food as the Thai kitchen was closed. I packed lighter this hike as I planned on eating from the local establishments. Kind of risky as I have no idea what their is in the small towns I would walk through. Decided to stock up on snacks and move on.  About four miles up found a pub in the middle of no where. It was called “Lucy’s”, and as I walked up to it in the dark was a bit edgy as tractors, pick ups, etc… were out front. Walked into a community place, farmers and residence sat in a circular table, their dog was on the table, it was a clean and sterile environment. Sat away from the crowd and ordered a beer and hamburger while everyone was looking. It did not matter, the hamburger was top notch, the beer calmed me and eventually the locals inquired what was taking place with this stranger in their midst. They were receptive and friendly and wished me luck. It was brought to my attention to be careful as duck hunting season was taking place and deer season started the next morning. Considering I was in dark colors this made me concerned a bit. Most importantly, I learned Lucy’s has been rebuilt several times as floods destroy it. The community chips in and all come and fix what needs to be repaired. Another sign of mother nature versus man, a link to the battle on the frontier. Left Lucy’s reinvigorated and walked 2 miles in the dark and made it to campsite at Katfish Katies. Made a fire with flint and sat and watched the stars, full moon light, on the river. No tent tonight, sleeping bag under the stars.

New Animal: Coyote

imga0101.jpgDay Six

Poor nights sleep, had an option to stay at college dorm but chose not too. Sleeping bag zipper broke, had to fix it in the middle of the night. Coyotes were abundant across the river, heard their calls off and on and my eye was killing me. Also woke up to a 24 gun salute as deer season opened. A crazy barrage of gunfire lasted for at least thirty seconds. Must have had an ash from the fire get into my eye, very light sensitive and watery. Stiff but overall feel good. Started walking North West again and caught the trail 1/4 mile out of campground.  Again scenic area, signs of beaver or muskrat as their dens were visible in dense swampy areas. Lewis and Clark had seen beaver in this area, the work of the beaver was amazing as trees were being worked on that resemble beaver cuts over a vast area. Today we are walking to Rocheport and then back the way we came, a different approach as I wanted to do some more in depth research of the area. Threw our packs in a small cave way off path, marked area to find on way back. Made good time without pack. Came to Lewis and Clark cave 4 miles into hike. It was huge. Splunked back a 100 ft and it became too dark for the light I had. A stream runs through this cave and since it was not bat season I was able to go as far as I could. I could still hear water running way back from my stopping point. I really want to go through this cave at some point. Made it to winery cut off Les Bourgeois which was located on the top of a bluff overlooking the river. The hike to the winery was steep but well worth it. The food was the best I have had yet on the hike in its entirety. Had some wine and started to head back. It was a nice day to hike. I thought I would head back as far as I could and determine a camp, or contact my source for a dorm room. Walked 6 miles back to where I stored pack and walked another 8 which took me back to Coopers campground where I had previously visited. Not many spots to camp, and the owner was no where to be found. Flint was not working in the wind. A local camper came up and gave fire wood, water, a lighter, and a fire log. Made a nice fire even though I cheated a bit. What kindness I have come across thus far in Missouri. People keeping bars open later for me, giving gifts and advice. Missourians are exemplary. Made a huge bed of dry leaves, laid my sleeping bag on it and slept wonderfully. Only disturbance was at 1:00 am some individuals pulled up got out of car, beer in hand, and made the statement “gentlemen this is the Missouri river”. They proceeded to get back in their car and leave. Weird.

New Animal: Beaver

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Day Seven

Easy day. Ten miles back to car, not as scenic due to the fact this has already been a part of our exploration, made great time and was done by 10:30. Body is becoming adapted to long hikes. Have minimal blisters and soreness. Tried to find the dog that accompanied us for out initial hike through this area, to no avail. It was a windy cold day and a simple hike through the explored area.

New animals: None

 Lewis and Clark

Day Eight

Went back to Lewis and Clark cave to explore the area with Dave, Jeremiah, and Jeff. Back tracked from winery and met Jeff and Jeremiah at cave entrance. Went back 200 yards this time with Dave and found the cave did not end. It opened into wider caverns. I noticed in the water several large frogs laying dormant. I also noticed mosquitoes on the roof of the cave. It was an amazing experience. February and signs of the spring thaw were abundant in this cave. Walked from cave to the winery for lunch, once again great food and drink. Jeremiah and I decided to go forward from winery towards Rocheport. Dave and Jeff drove into Rocheport and looked at General Store Bar. As Jeremiah and I approached Rocheport it was as if we stepped back in time; people riding bikes with baskets, clean well kept homes, Americana at its best. Friendly people and a 1950 feel. We found Jeff and Dave having a beer in the General Store with the mayor of the town. How often can you sit and drink a beer with a mayor? He gave us good advice to explore the ridge above the Rocheport tunnel. Jeremiah and I continued on and found a steep ridge incline that went to an overlook, much like those that Lewis and Clark would survey large river valleys from. It gave a twenty plus mile view from the bluff of the river valley.  Entranced by it all,  Jeremiah and I were separated and it took a bunch of time to find each other.  It was strange neither of us could hear the others calls even though we were only a quarter a mile away from on another. The ridge was wonderful, we repelled down to the Katy trail via a steep bank using vines. No ropes just improvised techniques at their best. Hiked another 5 miles to the Davis-Dale conservation area where we agreed we would start the next day. Came across a large school of dead fish that had suffocated in residue flood waters. Smell was horrible. Found a great campsite for night two. Dave picked us up and we went back to Rocheport where I was introduced to Philip and Kevin two locals that had collected over 600 arrowheads throughout their lives in Rocheport. Next time I walk into a home of a complete stranger  I will have friends with me. A very strange experience indeed! Interesting river folk to say the least. Friendly and all you would expect from the generosity of the area. Reminded me of a CCR lyric- “River people are happy to give.” Made it back to Katfish Katy’s campground, Jeremiah the fire king made a nice fire where we were greeted by more river folk, a young college student Chrissy who is studying at Mizzou in “soil science.” as she put it. She lived in a trailer year round at the campground to save money. She asked us for a beer and talked for 15 minutes. She classified herself as a “river person” from the Ozarks. I am starting to think my story for future writing will be about the people as much as the land.

New Animals: Corn Snake???

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Day Nine

Dave got up early with me and took me back to the starting point. I was going to walk alone in the morning.  Jeff was going to join me at some point. Jeremiah was going to hunt crow for dinner, and Dave was going to talk with locals. We are starting to sound like a formidable expedition. I walked 9 miles to Booneville. Again it was exhilarating. Sunrise was beautiful and  the scenery wonderful. Either I am getting tougher, or in better shape,  I felt no pain in my feet or body. Ran one mile, walked a mile. Saw an entire field of snow geese, absolutely beautiful. It is moments like that which make memories of a lifetime! Made it to Booneville in great time 10 miles total. Dave brought Jeff to meet me at a park. 2nd leg of the day had begun.

No more Katy Trail. From this point forward we would be making our own trail. Jeff and I entered a staff only section of the park and went down onto the railroad tracks. It was a precursor to the many times I would walk in restricted areas. We walked five miles on railroad track and came across a bald eagle, what a sight. Lots of dead animals along tracks, no live trains were evident. The train line seemed in bad shape, many missing and loose nails, maybe from floods. Eventually made it to the bridge we were to turn off, but first we had to get across. All I could think of was the movie “Stand by Me”….. we went across on metal frames on the side of the bridge. They were rusted out and loose, and led to a 75 ft drop into a tributary. I was nervous as was Jeff, but with slow going we made it with no train visible. We cut off the tracks and went across farmland, this would save us at least 4 miles in distance. It was tough; muddy fields, hay fields, dogs, and farmers looking at us skeptically. We made it without much incident to Dave who picked up Jeff on a side hwy named Arrow Rock highway. I decided to go alone again and try and make it to Arrow Rock for a third leg of the day. Nine more miles would give me twenty six for the day, a very healthy cross country hike. Again it was beautiful, but foreboding for future hikes. These side highways follow the bluffs of the river, up and down steep and flat. This was becoming a very grueling hike, but I felt good. Walked uphill and ran downhill. Made good time again, saw doves, possum, another field filled with snow geese. Several drivers asked if I needed a ride, Missouri people are extremely kind. Never felt in danger even with farm dogs that came out to protect property. Cows were the most aggressive I had ever seen them, many of them had calves which provided reason for their agitation.  At one time a whole herd followed me along a fence-line. Both days noticed an inordinate amount of deer tracks. Made it to Arrow Rock at around 4:00 pm, explored area most of it was closed-disappointing. Went back to campground and made fire. A very cold evening. I could not get comfortable in my tent with temperatures well below freezing. Jeremiah had no luck with crow hunting, very cold night of sleeping.

New Animals: Bald Eagle, Snow Geese

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Day Ten

Today was a great day. It was record heat, but it was rewarding. We hiked from south of Lansing to Weston.

The day started out with turmoil. We could not find a through road as the one I listed in planning turned out to be a road behind the Leavenworth prison. Signs posted do not enter made us rethink our plan. We settled on a residential dirt road that had no trespassing posted everywhere. As soon as we crossed some angry native flew down her driveway honking and telling us to leave. I had a moment of fight, or flight. I chose diplomacy, to no avail. Finally,  her mother showed up, she had a Durham Schools shirt on. I mentioned I was a teacher. She allowed us passage after she was interested in what we are doing. Crazy start to today. Just like Lewis and Clark, negotiations and level heads won the day.

Walked railroad which was much better than Rocheport leg, Aspen found a wonderful river path. Made great time, other than Aspen falling on her rear in tuck and roll mode and screaming “why do I always fall?” Did see the first two deer of the hike!! Lewis had noted the area we were walking into was an abundant area for game. I felt I would see many more deer. Took a great shot of the elusive red headed woodpecker.

Had lunch in Leavenworth. Crossed bridge which had a super narrow pedestrian sidewalk, dicey! Kari had a Kansas/Missouri border battle with port a potty. We found a levy that was remarkable to walk on, and cut off highway hike. Again walking on a trail designed by your needs and skills was extremely fun and challenging. Dave has taken on the role of scout which helps us as he drives to stopping points to see what obstacles we might face.

Finished hike in good time on Weston state trail. It was much like Katy trail. Drank good beer in the O Malley’s cave bar tonight. Sitting around fire talking and enjoying a beautiful evening.

Kudos to Andi for finishing hike, I loved walking with my wife today- it meant more to me than she will ever know. She is a great woman. Dave did a wonderful job on his life support role and planning efforts.

Great day, perfect hike. Feel great, only 90 miles to go.

New Animals: Red headed Woodpecker

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Day Eleven

I really do not know where to start. Today was a roller coaster of emotions and discovery.

The bad- Andi got very sick last night and started throwing up around 4:00am. We made the decision it was not a good idea for her to go. Her and I were both sad.

Everyone stepped up. Dave said he would walk with me. Aspen and Kari agreed to take Andi back to Topeka so she could heal up at a family members house.

So the day began. Dave and I left Weston in the midst of thunderstorms to our south and north. Some looked pretty severe. We walked along railroad until Dave found a beautiful path to the highway. We made great time….and then it started raining. Lewis and Clark referred to horrible weather time and time again in their journals. Perhaps we are lucky, or the climate has really changed. This is the first day we have experienced severe weather in our hike.

We had to walk a two lane highway for three miles. It started lightning, pouring and to top it off we came across a power plant with power lines everywhere. A bolt hit about a mile off and we walked in overdrive. It has been the first time I was fearful this entire trek. I wondered how L and C dealt with the severe storms? The highlight of this segment was watching live frogger. I have never seen so many frogs crossing a road become projectiles as they are destroyed by semis. Crazy stuff.

We made it to the turn off and the area I wanted to see all trip. A small lake (Bean Lake) that Lewis described had vast amounts of migratory birds. As soon as I explained that to Dave a sea of white could be seen in the distance. It was hundreds upon hundreds of Pelicans. Same exact spot Lewis credited. We stood and watched in awe as these enormous birds flew overhead. I do not know what was more amazing, the Pelicans or the fact that Lewis may have sat right where I was an wrote in his journal about what I was witnessing.

We proceeded on. Slowly we began to notice the path of the flood this past summer. We came upon construction crews rebuilding levees and homes destroyed. The area we were walking in had been under water for three months. You could see eight to fifteen feet water lines on the washed out homes. At certain points I felt I was on a distant planet as the landscape resembled a sandy moonscape. Sand dunes everywhere. Hundreds of suffocating carp flopped helplessly in the remaining pools. Their dead stench polluting the air. However, the damage of the homes was the most depressing as I tried to put myself in the shoes of those that had lost everything. Swing sets bent by water, homes off of foundations, debris everywhere, cars buried in the sand. It was truly an eye opening experience of Mother Nature’s wrath. How and why would these people ever think of rebuilding?

We finally made it to Benedictine College. It has been several years since my last visit to a school I loved attending. I left Dave at one of my old stomping grounds, Muellers Bar and Grill as his ankle was injured. I walked to the college and was in awe of all that has been built on a campus as old as 1857. Soccer fields, academics buildings, a grotto, statues, and landscapes.

I met Father James who I had coordinated a stay with on campus at the Abbey’s Walnut Grove. I was honored what he offered; camping, dinner with the monks (all of us), and a shower. Not only that but if we needed any provisions for our hike. It was such a wonderful experience. The ritual and protocol was mesmerizing. A bell rings calling monks to dinner. We followed the procession silently. We participated in prayer, then a long reading (in silence). The food was leftover night but incredible! We had a chance to talk with monks and tell our story. As a result, Father Marion and Father James came to our campsite to share ideas. Father Marion is a distant relative of a L and C member ( Toussaint Charboneau). He also has traveled entire trail by vehicle. He gave me a ton of info to ponder and potential themes to write about. Wonderful experience, one of the best so far! I now have wonderful contacts at Benedictine to discuss my writing with!

As I told him I have to get some sleep. He blessed each and everyone of us. After today I can only feel blessed in more ways than one.

New Animals: Pelicans, Carp, Catfish.

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Day Twelve

As I prepared Father Marion came out at 5:30 to see me off, what a tribute to the dedication and integrity of these men. I cannot begin to express the gratefulness I have for the experience on campus. The morning hike down the bluffs of Benedictine was amazing and filled with memories of how I came up with this idea in my youth. A mist filled the valley which was magnificent as the sun rose. Saw two deer that seemed aggressive. They were frozen by my headlamp, I thought I heard one hiss! They stood their ground and looked as if they wanted to charge. Strange encounter.

I came across a valley virtually untouched on the way to Doniphan in it’s appearance compared to 1804; magnificent bluffs, river in the distance, abundant wildlife, and little sign of man.

The rest of the day was inspiring and educational. I walked by farmers hard at work, controlled burns, and well maintained properties. I made good time and before I knew it 28 miles had been hiked.

The rural conservation campground Dave chose was amazing! Right on the river great wind block from the trees. Putting up a tent has become a simple routine. Ten minutes and I am ready to go. I wondered if the men on the expedition had contests to see who could put up their tent the quickest? We sat and laughed into the night. My legs and body are great, I had some ankle pain but a quick remedy of a hot/ice patch from Kari did the trick. I have become a formidable hiker. Our only concern on a perfect night was impending weather. As we went to bed it looked as if we had dodged the worst of it. I was dead wrong.

At 2:00 am a major super cell hit our campground with ground strikes within yards of our tents. The initial wind shear had to be 50 mph and the sustained wind around 30 mph. It did this for three hours. My south and east tent walls collapsed as I positioned my tent at the front of the path to the campground. When the wind hit my rain flap it took the tent. Rain started pouring in. I was able to use my leg and my arms to keep the tent from completely collapsing. Then the worst thought came to my head. This is not far from where a series of tornadoes hit in February. I felt the winds swirl on the sides of my tent as it kept pushing the sides. It became very quiet and all hell broke loose again. Kari and I both shared the thought that it sounded like a train coming through the trees (many say that accompanies a tornado). The rain was torrential, we estimated 3 inches minimum fell in a 3 hour period. I thought about my family and what would they do without me for a brief second. I was scared. I yelled out to the others and said if it does not stop soon we all need to run to the car which was a good distance away. Dave stated that it was almost over (he had his phone doppler out). It did stop, and when I got out of my tent our camp had become a creek bed. The river was substantially higher, and two of three tents had taken on water badly. We fixed what we could. Tried to sleep for awhile as we were exhausted.

I thought how could we finish? Everyone was spent, on edge, and cold.

New Animals: None

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Day Thirteen

In the grand scheme of things I am days ahead of L and C. I have great photos, good stories, and a ton of literature. I did not have to walk today, especially after that night, but I did. None of the fatigue and pain matters compared to the lessons nature teaches me every day. I have seen on this trip animals relationships with the environment, how mother nature’s wrath is awesome, and how farmers depend on the land for their for existence. Most importantly, I have learned how we are so insignificant to the grand scheme of life. This hike has been tiring, emotionally challenging, and intimidating but every bit of it is rewarding. The challenge of relying on your individual skills for survival is daunting. Feeling insignificant to the threat of mother nature has taught me valuable lessons. An environment can create a spirit that represents the frontier mentality and the L and C motto-We proceeded on.

I finished the long hike today. It was the most hilly hike of the trek so far. Monkey Mountain Conservation area is comparable to hikes in Colorado. The towns I walked through today were small, but gave a sense of a common bond. People cautiously watched our movements through their town, or by their homes. It was a rewarding hike that nothing special can be noted, other than the fact that Kari finished with me today (she was a beast). She completed an extremely long hike and overcame her fear of heat exhaustion again. It seems as all the hikers are becoming stronger in the hikes they take on.

As we finished in great time, I had no pain when I came up to the Forest City sign and then I realized how far I have come. Three hundred miles, a different man than the one that started in St. Charles. I am leaner, I am stronger, I am mentally tougher, most importantly I have become a man that understand the gifts an environment provides, respects the power of mother nature, and values every minute I have on this earth.

New Animals: Wild Turkey

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Day Fourteen

On the road again. Needless to say it feels wonderful. Left Colorado Springs late Friday and made it to our friendly bed and breakfast (Rick and Angie’s). Drove about 60 miles Saturday morning to Kansas side of river where we left off parallel to Forest City, Mo. A reservation feel to the town as the Iowa Indian tribe of Kansas has its headquarters there. Nothing strange about the town other than the three legged Shepard greeting us. Excited to try out new gear and tracking equipment. I will be walking with our newest recruit neighbor Casey. He has extensive knowledge of hunting, tracking, and survival techniques from his current status in the Army as a Ranger. Let’s just say he, like Jeremiah, has seen so much in their endeavors, past experiences, in the Army. Both men have done things I could never imagine.

Weather was around 22 degrees for the majority of the day. Found a great levee system out of White Cloud that lasted for about nine miles. Witnessed evidence of beaver again (trees), saw my first golden eagle on the trek. River was low per winter conditions and the land around this area seemed to be minimally altered by the floods from last year. First half of the day-simple and painless. I feel great. It is amazing how hiking long distances for me has become so easy.

Things changed when we entered the area around Rulo, Nebraska. Through my initial research of the towns I would be walking through I stumbled across a horrific incident that took place in the eighties at Rulo. In short, it represents a story of a white supremacist cult that committed two murders under their leader who is currently on death row. The murders were graphic and demented. In all honesty I had reservations in walking through this town. Ultimately, we did and met Dave and Jeremiah at a lounge, “Wild Bills”. The entire walk to the this rendezvous point through town was uneasy. I never felt comfortable walking through this town. Residents peering through drapes, skull decoration on porches, and skeptical looks of passing cars. This did not change as we walked into Wild Bills where Casey shared his reservations. At Wild Bills we quickly refreshed under scrutiny from the locals. I quickly shared with Dave where I would be for pick up and we left. This is where for the first time in my walk I feared the environment altered by man. Immediately when we went north of town on 2nd street we were met by a resident in a truck stating that we needed to be careful, ”coyote hunting” was taking place and trucks would be moving at a high rate of speed on the dirt road. What seemed as a good intention was felt as a warning to get out of town. No idea why I felt this way, but I did. Casey felt the same. Perhaps, it was our imagination running wild from the stories that represent this town. Perhaps, it was locals tired of outsiders coming to their town to witness the horrors that happened here. Needless to say, I was on edge. A mile out of town a second truck ahead of us. As we approached he left, but before he did he let his hound dogs out to run the field with one staying on our heels for over a half a mile. I felt as if I was being tracked. The dogs were fitted with satellite collars and the truck a rotating antenna that obviously kept track of the dogs. Casey and I took the necessary precautions to come up with plans if things went bad. Finally, the dog went to the west and no sign of trucks. Ironically, we passed the area at this point that the cult had done their heinous acts years ago. We walked in reverent silence and wondered what the land would say if it could talk. We began to relax with Rulo behind us. Just as we were leaving the county line we came across a home flying the Dixie Flag. It was straight out of the movie “Jeepers Creepers”, or “Deliverance”. At this point we had a vehicle pull up behind us. It was the deputy sheriff. Deputy “Jeff” got out of his vehicle with hand on his gun, and stated “There has been reports of theft and erratic behavior from multiple neighbors in Rulo. You two meet the description of the report.” At this point I was scared for two reasons. One, we were on a back dirt road away from civilization where our word and credentials did not matter. Two, Casey earlier had told me that this area made him nervous and when he felt that way from his combat experience that things were going to go down. The deputy did not buy our story, or at least he did not act like it. He called in Casey’s ID, and when I did not have mine he made it apparent we were not leaving. Thank the hiking gods Dave pulled up within 15 minutes. I gave my ID which checked out. Dave’s aggressive, but friendly, behavior to the deputy seemed to temper the situation and he told us to head on our way. No fun in any way, shape, or manner. I made an intellectual discovery as I sat in the warm vehicle to the campsite. Humans complicate the environment. From Lewis and Clark’s close encounters with natives, to mine with the inhabitants of Rulo- people create conflict now and in the past. That has never changed. The only things that have made me nervous and fearful on my track is the weather and people. Both arguably have been influenced by the technology, property boundaries and influence of mankind’s expansion.

A positive to end on. At camp I had little pain compared to previous hikes. I do not think hiking will ever hinder my ability in the future unless I take a fall. We have the best tents from REI that withstood our barrage of weather in St. Joseph and my gear was set for a night that would dip 11 degrees Fahrenheit. You have not experienced camping until you sleep in that type of weather. I slept like a baby. Perhaps it is due to the second thing we have progressed in our endeavors. Dave was able to cook us steaks to die for. I replaced the protein I lost immediately and thought that Lewis and Clark had the same experience when eating deer they had killed in the area. How much red meat did men have to eat during the expedition? Venison steaks, beef steaks…. at least we were close. We are becoming an efficient crew. Really efficient.

New Animals: Golden Eagle, Short Eared Owl.

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Day Fifteen

After an interesting day fourteen and our start into the state of  Nebraska, day sixteen was uneventful. Casey and I walked out of Indian Cave State Park and found a beautiful valley to walk through for over five miles. Old eroded tractors marked the landscape as we walked on a wildlife highway. We shared our stories of how we came to love nature, I am sure men had similar conversations during the Lewis and Clark expedition. Evidence of turkey, raccoon, skunk, coyote, deer and possum were prevalent on every part of the trail. As is always the case most good things come to an end. The middle part of our day was walking the rolling hills and dirt roads of Nebraska farmland. It was warm and tiresome, but easy walking.

The last part of the day we found a nice trail. Unfortunately, it passed right along a nuclear plant facility. If a meltdown occurred, Casey and I had zero chance of survival, once again man’s signature on the environment. Dave was spot on as I wanted to walk a levee system all the way to Brownville. It would have put us in jeopardy of arrest as we would have been on the nuclear facility grounds. I did not want any more entanglements with law enforcement this trip. I started to think about our team. Jeremiah is a hunter and expert camping technician. He understands animals, tracking and how to make a fire in any condition. Dave is camp savvy as well, but Dave also is an expert map reader. Perhaps his career in satellite surveillance for the government has groomed him for the hike. Casey, much like Jeremiah, understands terrain and hunting. His knowledge of potentially dangerous situation and love of the environment make him the ultimate hiking companion.These men are combat veterans and I am an environmentalist. We all have a niche during our hikes and it has become impressive.

Needless to say, a great day that ended with another great meal- hobo burritos. Bacon, hash browns, eggs in a tortilla cooked in the open air of Nebraska. Good times, good spirits, we are becoming a very efficient team.

New Animals: None

LC Brownville

Day Sixteen

I am sitting in my tent dealing with hail, lightning and downpours. I forgot how violent the storms can be in the Midwest, but I am definitely reminded this evening. It’s my own fault, I jinxed myself by sending glorious picks of my cowboy stew and amazing sunset.

Today was good. All said, I walked about 23 miles and felt great. I even decided to run three miles. The scenery was reminiscent of the Katy trail by Rocheport; cliffs on one side River on the other…I had a blast today as I explored side trails and looked for animals. I decided to play a pretend survival game, a what if so to speak. So I identified things I would eat if I had no food. I would have had a feast: wild strawberries, snails, corn, soybeans, and frog legs. Now if I could have figured out how to bring down the turkey, pheasant, or deer then I would have been living the high life.

The walk itself produced great scenery, modern intricate cliff carvings and canopied forest. The only disappointment was walking into Peru which I projected to be much like our visit to Benedictine College- but I think I came in the far end of town. It was literally a ghost town.

This hike I am alone so I turned around and back trekked. Upon entering Brownsville I headed up mainstreet and saw tons of people setting up for a flea market. I do not want to write about that at this point-it is my topic for tomorrow. In short, the entrepreneurial American spirit thrives in small towns like this! Eventually, I made it to the Whiskey Creek Run Winery which was such a great reward for the end of my day. As I sat by myself with a glass of wine I reflected on the day. For six hours I did not see a human being, I explored nature, thought of my lovely wife, kids and friends and determined I am so very lucky to have my life.

Just like I forgot how severe the storms are in the Midwest (still raining) I forgot how spiritual hiking is for me.

New Animals: Pheasant

 LC Brownville

Day Seventeen

Snails are everywhere on this hike. I have tried to avoid them to the best of my ability, but from time to time I hear a pop when there shells snap under my feet. My bad little snails. Today I started out in Peru and will walk to Nebraska City, approximately 25 miles round trip and forty deceased snails.

Once again the scenery was reminiscent of the Katy Trail in Missouri. Legs were a bit sore from the previous day, but loosened up as I walked the first mile. Weather was perfect right around 4o degrees, no wind and no prediction for poor weather. I made great time for the first eight miles and found some awesome cliffs that had tons of carved names and art for over a fourth of a mile. This area was right outside of Peru, I attempted to carve my name in a part of the Limestone, but it did not take as well as I thought so I will assume that it will fade with the first heavy rain, or freeze.

Once again I did not see a human being throughout the day until I was eating lunch on a bank overlooking the Missouri about six miles outside of Nebraska City and the major power plant. I heard an ATV coming up the trail and thought it would just drive by, but once he saw me he stopped to talk for awhile. He was a farmer whose family had farmed that area for generations  so he was well educated on the lay of the land. I just sat an listened. He explained the riddle I was confronted with when I witnessed hundreds of burned trees on the banks of the river. Years ago a fire had been set and consumed the area when it was very dry leaving remnants of trees in its wake. He has been instrumental in bringing back the area by planting trees and having his cattle graze in the fields to limit the dry tinder/grass that may occur in a drought. He shared with me some carvings in a rock that I did not see about a half mile from where I was sitting that were from his great grandparents. He talked about an old school structure that existed off in the forest that was inaccessible by the trail etc… He was extremely kind and once again demonstrated the salt of the earth individuals that I have often come across on the trail.

He wished me luck on my adventure offered me some water, shook my hand and off I continued on my walk. The rest of the walk was wonderful until I stumbled across the massive power plant marking the end of my hike. Back to civilization and an eyesore that reminded me it was time to return to life.

When I came back into Brownville the largest flea market in Nebraska was taking place. Hundreds of vendors were lined on the streets as far as the eye can see selling every type of trinket, antique, food, wordworking, wine and tools known to mankind. Americana at it’s best. I am amazed on how small communities that seem non-existent spring to life in a seconds notice. This event is an identifying moment for a community and a lasting tradition that has spanned generations. The pride in the community could be felt in every shop, corner and verbal exchange made between residents. I felt privileged to be a witness to this day. I had some great food from vendors, packed up my camp and drove towards Topeka for a night in a hotel for a warm shower and a good night’s sleep.

It was so good to be back on the trail. My soul is content.

Tools and Resources

Lewis and Clark  Journey Interactive maps and history.

Lewis and Clark Journals

Current Map of Hike

Additional Photos from the Hike.

Categories: Lewis and Clark Modern Day Hike | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Brownville to Peru 

   

  

  

  

   I am sitting in my tent dealing with hail, lightning and downpours. I forgot how violent the storms can be in the Midwest, but I am definitely reminded this evening. It’s my own fault, I jinxed myself by sending glorious picks of my cowboy stew and amazing sunset. 

Today was good. All said, I walked about 23 miles and felt great. I even decided to run three miles. The scenery was reminiscent of the Katy trail by Rocheport; cliffs on one side River on the other…I had a blast today as I explored side trails and looked for animals. I decided to play a pretend survival game, a what if so to speak. So I identified things I would eat if I had no food. I would have had a feast: wild strawberries, snails, corn, soybeans, and frog legs. Now if I could have figured out how to bring down the turkey, pheasant, or deer then I would have been living the high life. 

The walk itself produced great scenery, modern intricate cliff carvings and canopied forest. The only disappointment was walking into Peru which I projected to be much like our visit to Benedictine College- but I think I came in the far end of town. It was literally a ghost town. 

This hike I am alone so I turned around and back trekked. Upon entering Brownsville I headed up mainstreet and saw tons of people setting up for a flea market. I do not want to write about that at this point-it is my topic for tomorrow. In short, the entrepreneurial American spirit thrives in small towns like this! Eventually, I made it to the Whiskey Creek Run Winery which was such a great reward for the end of my day. As I sat by myself with a glass of wine I reflected on the day. For six hours I did not see a human being, I explored nature, thought of my lovely wife, kids and friends and determined I am so very lucky to have my life. 

Just like I forgot how severe the storms are in the Midwest (still raining) I forgot how spiritual hiking is for me.

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