Saturday, August 3, 2013

2013 MR340 success!

We made it! another successful MR340 run.
This was our plan of attack, Sam modified last years spreadsheet with updated averages and i boiled it down to this cheat sheet.


  •  DAY 1 TUESDAY (104.7 MILES @6.1 MPH AVG.)
  •  DAY 2 WEDNESDAY (118.8 MILES @6.1 MPH AVG)
    •  12:10PM STUMP ISLAND 
  •  DAY 3 THURSDAY (116.5 MILES @6.MPH AVG)
    •  2:21PM HERMAN 
    •  9:15PM KLONDIKE 
 the following is my recollection, i believe it's pretty accurate but you never know.

  coming into this years event i really felt physically less prepared, we had only paddled 150miles up to the race and that was all done in the month prior. the wet spring coupled with schedules and work and other life events just didn't make it easy to get out much this year, which is probably everyone's situation in the summertime. such is life. in the few days since the race i have been doing some compare and contrast with last year, leading up to the race last year it was alot of unknown and nerves about being able to get it done. this year i knew what needed to get done and i was still nervous about making it happen.

  tuesday - day 1.
again we got to kaw point early and crossed the river at 6am. it was either less crowded or better organized this year? there was no line at the boat ramp and it was nice to get across the kaw to a sand/mudbar, finish my coffee- in the same mug i used last year that still has the stickers that henry put on it- and be able to try to relax for 2 hours. we were ready, i kept looking at the forecast to see what the wind was supposed to do but finally had to stop cause i wasn't going to be able to change it anyway, no use getting all worked up over it.
 the start went well, watching the leading teams paddle into the missouri and around the bend was impressive to say the least, almost immediately it felt like they were 1/2 mile in front of us and then they were out of sight. we settled into our seemingly normal pace, everything smooth sailing right up until we got past missouri city. missouri city seems like it's always windy, probably because the first "long" paddle we took last year was to missouri city, we misunderstood where the boat ramp was and thought we were done when in acuality we had 2 more miles to go- the most miserably blazing headwind worth of 2 miles in our history of paddling. this day missouri city was quiet, we were feeling good and we talked about pushing through to glasgow that night and about how the day was going so well, we were quite pleased with ourselves. but at the next bend the headwind started and it stuck around for the next 8 hours. that put us in our place a little bit. once the wind let up we resumed happy talk of getting to glasgow, evening was upon us we had seen our spectacular ground crew, ate some food and were feeling good again then at 10pm the head winds came again and tormented us all the way to miami. when we arrived at miami we were ready for a break. the Minn.III is a pleasure to paddle but with only 2 people and no spray skirt (seemed like a spray skirt might help but that is just a guess) the wind had its way with us. we were beat. we pulled in around 1 am. slept 4 hours and back in the water just before 6am.  still fairly on schedule.

 day 2:
  sunrise on the river is just about one of the best things to experience, especially on the missouri river below miami. i really feel like the river below miami, maybe even from waverly, to katfish katy's is one of the best sections of the river- it feels remote and wide open. then coming around to boonville you start seeing the bluffs and once you get up close to them you realize just how small you are. it feels like you are somewhere other than the middle of missouri. (except for the I-70 bridge). the weather was spectacular for the most part all day, little pockets of wind hear and there but the temp was a pleasantly bizarre 80 degrees, sun was out, smooth paddling. this was where the Minn III really shines, we were able to get into a rhythm, corrective strokes at the stern were minimal,  making pretty good time and enjoying the day.  at this point it was all deja-vu, our pace and schedule thus far was approx the same as last year and we have paddled the stretch to miami a fair amount times in the last year and a half. last year we stopped for a snooze in glasgow, which wasn't as refreshing as we thought it would be. a sign to listen to your biorhythms i suppose. this year we stopped for a snack and water, a cold washcloth to rinse with and we were back on the water. when evening came we were seeing things in the daylight that we paddled in the dark last year. the whole stretch from the i70 bridge to katfish katy's was great, it was a tough spot for sam last year and it felt like a mini triumph to be feeling pretty good at that point this year. coopers landing was a treat, band was jamming and we had noodles waiting for us courtesy of our spectacular ground crew. it was a funny scene, people dancing and drinking beer and zombie paddlers milling about eating thai noodles from a semi-permanent noodle truck. the ground crew was ready to get down! but they were good in getting us back on the river. we said it last year but we really need to come back here maybe as part of a katy trail adventure?  i was close to suggesting we call it a night there but we got back in the boat and back into the midge hatch. i was not prepared for this. they were not biting flies nor did they even really stick to you but there were alot of them. alot is an understatement. i had to paddle with my head down to keep them out of my eyes which made our course bizarre, i tried wearing sunglasses, no luck, no bugs in my eyes but i couldn't see anything. without a hat on and my head down it felt like raindrops on my head, for miles. in our noses, in our ears, in our eyes. not sure how many i ate/dug out of my ears-eyes-nose but it was about 2 dozen too many. i guess the fact that they didn't really taste like anything was good. while in our misery we pondered all sorts of fly killing techniques, flamethrower being at the top of the list. giant electric tennis racket mounted to the bow was another favored fantasy. we survived, barely. we caught up to a couple of boats a few miles out of jefferson city, it was a nice distraction to paddle with them and take turns pointing out the shapes you could see in the kudzu covered trees on the shore. we all rolled into jefferson city around 2am. couple of interesting things, this was the longest stretch we have paddled at one time, if only by about 10 miles. there was a taco boat, i wish i would have gotten a taco.

  day 3:
leaving jefferson city thursday morning we were advised that there was fog 18miles down river and that 4 empty barges were getting ready to head down river behind us. as we got about a mile out we could see the fog lifting, looked pretty cool but we never caught up to it.  our stay at jefferson city was a bit longer than planned but i think if we would've left any earlier we would have been sitting on the shore anyway so it worked out good. the stretch of river from jefferson city to hermann seems particularly slow, the bends are big and mellow, with the exception of lisbon bottoms and maybe another spot?, and any small marker in the distance is surely 7 miles away. day 3 is a little bit of a blur for me, i had an instance where i went a little long without eating enough then ate a bit too much, then fell into a weird slump that i struggled to recover from. finally sam and i switched places in the canoe, for a change of pace, maybe get a little break. not so much.  i'm not real sure how we ultimately settled on our canoe positions, the first day we paddled together last year we tried both ways and it just landed where it landed and we have been happy with that. i always thought that if we needed to switch the change would be easy, oooh boy. typically i'm in the back (is sternsman a word?) and sam is up front. i got up there and was a total mess! this sounds strange but i couldn't find something to focus on, looking right at the bow was a bad idea, made me sea sick, just looking out at the open water was odd for some reason and as sam was getting aquainted with the steering system ,i.e the modified j-stroke, i would find myself trying to correct course which was just causing more problems. this whole thing lasted about 15 minutes after which we were refreshed to be back in the comforts of our respective positions. and it gave us fodder to laugh about for the next hour or three. back to river life. saw a few people, chatted with them, realized the stretch coming into herman was the longest stretch ever, i'm pretty sure you can see the herman bridge for about 10 miles and it just lurks out there. we passed a barge heading upstream but it didn't leave too bad of a wake. crossed paths with the boat-acious blonde boat, reminded me i want to download their book about last years MR340 from amazon.  had a nice stop in herman, clogged up the rv commode. that was pretty sweet. we met up with the ground crew again at, i believe the portland boat ramp, got some gatorade in me, that hit the spot. (i'm not sure if this was the gatorade stop or if it was the prior day? either way it was refreshing) for some reason water just wasn't tasting good, even though i was thirsty? lemon -lime gatorade saved the day and we paddled onto klondike. at this point we were going to be getting into klondike at 11:30pm, and had decided that we would rest a few hours and get up, paddle into the final sunrise for the trip and cruise the remaining miles to blanchette landing, arriving at 7:30am.
  at klondike we had to make a river rescue, the ramp there is facing downstream but is on the current side of the river. another boat had lost a light or something and one of them leaned to get it out of the water and just spit both of them out. they had pfd's on and were floating by the ramp, one of them had ahold of their boat and the other was just floating, somebody said jump back in the boat so sam and i hopped in and got the floater over to our boat then got his buddy and their canoe with this whole crew holding on to our boat we paddled back to shore which was not easy. by this time a volunteer john boat had come around to help and everybody is tired and not thinking clearly but we were all standing on the shore. the john boat guy comes by and the paddler that is holding the boat swims back out to grab onto the john boat. then the john boat dies and he can't get it restarted. by this time we had the 1 rescued paddler and ourselves back on the boat ramp. and the john boat eventually made it back to the ramp with the 2nd rescue and their canoe. wild times! i was officially whooped after that, ready for a nap. they were a bit wild eyed looking but were ok.
  i know the layover at klondike was not a very competitive race choice but it was a great way to end this event, the 3 hours of sleep was just right, and that last leg was near perfect conditions- cool, no wind, amazing we paddled on in it almost felt like a victory lap, of course we were smack dab in the middle of finishing times but we felt good. courtney and steph were there, the shower was open at the lewis and clark building. it was pretty sweet. i ate the lumberjack slam at denny's and the rest of the day was a mix of feeling energetic and taking naps until the ceremony.

 the challenges this event, and for us i believe it is more an event than a race, are interesting. the physical aspect is obvious but the mental aspect is the true struggle. sitting in one place for 18+ hours is not easy to do, to not count every single mile marker is tough. telling yourself to keep paddling even though those muscles between your shoulder blades are telling you to stop. it's interesting, all of it. after the fact it really felt like a mental reset, totally clearing the cobwebs out of my brain and drains any restless energy that gets stored up.

   i found myself getting choked up on a couple of occasions at the ceremony, when scott mansker did the memorial about the gentleman who passed away at miami in his camper after pulling out of the race the day before. he spoke of a life well lived. i couldn't help but think of my father who passed at way too early an age, 16 years ago now. he loved adventures. i feel fortunate to have had an extremely well lived life with him while he was here. this trip reminds me of a story my uncle mike likes to tell of my dad when he was a young boy. he would gather up a few supplies and go sit in the closet, he would document this in a journal, that i now have, he set out a goal- 2 hours. then later you see where he filled in his result -45 mins, with notes on what to do next time, an exercise just to see if he could do it, really no better reason is needed. now when i think of the times we spent with him in the context of my son, i realize teaching is more about doing than it is about talking about it. i was fortunate to live some great adventures with my dad, and he was good at it. he would be the first one up the tree at the creek to jump in but not before checking to make sure the water was clear. he loved peeling thru the chat piles on motorcycles but also taught us to clarify what was on the other side of that hill you were climbing. living a life of quality is like anything else, it's needs attention and work to make it happen. it feels good to take on things that seem out of reach, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. take notes, make changes and try again. or try something else. i missed my dad alot on this trip, he would have loved being on the river.

  i can't thank sam and steph enough for sharing this with us. i have to thank my mom, dennon, steve and whitney for taking such good care of little henry for us! he had a blast down there, and was probably glad to get away from mom and dad. thanks to andy, and william lezlie for watching the animals while we were gone. and steph's mom in st. louis for letting us crash overnight. thanks to sam's dad for the sweet finish line pic.

looking forward to another adventure.


same cup different year

bichin new gear! $3 shades from amazon. killer sun hat.

that's us, thanks courtney for the sticker!

sunrise day 2, the water is always great in the morning.

boat stuff.

i 70 bridge in the daylight. 

good breakfast, cruising past the capitol.

river selfie, bluffs, hat flap in the breeze.

the final sunrise, sam doing all the work. 

that's us 4854 17th place! the guys above us are the ones we rescued.

best ground crew ever! (no offense to previous ground crew)

coming in to the finish felt pretty damn good!

this is what we look like when we don't have henry at the coffee shop. 

good times, with my lovely wife.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 13, 2013

our final training run for 2013. kaw point to waverly, 74 miles. the story of this trip was the amount of activity on the river and the epic, ceaseless, demoralizing headwind. right out of the gate we had headwind, not a good sign, the wind was coming out of the east/southeast and since we were heading in an easterly direction that meant a long day lay ahead. oh well, good training right? under the broadway bridge we spotted a beaver crossing right in front of us, so sam raises his paddle and gives the water a good whack while yelling "beeeaverrrr" and he may have startled the couple on the jogging path. such is life.
  we also saw 2 bald eagles, 12+ basketballs, 2 river camps, 2 dozen or more fishing vessels, 1 gar, 1 dredge , 1 moving sand barge, and 1 kayaker going upstream.
  my food supply was a little light this trip, i really needed 1 more savory item and i would have been fine but as such the last few hours or so were spent thinking about this big ol burger i was going to have once we got to waverly. i kept talking about it to sam, and as we rounded the 2nd to last bend coming into waverly (still 4 miles out) i could almost smell the burgers, then i could almost taste the burgers. i am telling all this to sam and we are laughing and carrying on but then he smells it too! just then we realize there is a cabin on the north side of the river with a grill going the deck cooking burgers. we did not ask for one but they were very nice and remarked about us having a good ol time out on the river.

 even though there was a miserable headwind we managed to keep a pace that was the same or even slightly better than last year. all hope is not lost but our dreams of a 65 hour finish may be in jeopardy. as i write this 2 days later i'm a tad sore but am ready to get back on the water. for whatever reason time on the water went by pretty quick last weekend, maybe there was less to worry about? the moon? who knows, regardless a week from tomorrow we are going to give it a whirl.

  our lovely spouses have agreed to ground crew for us this year, i want to thank them publicly in advance. i hope they know what they've gotten themselves into.

taking a break in the headwind, sam trying to demonstrate how windy is was...

river doods at waverly.

bitchin sunset at waverly.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

JULY 6. 2013

Sam and I put in a 50 mile training run last Saturday, Kaw point to Lexington, MO. The river level has dipped to about 11.5 feet at the KC gauge, near where it was last year and about 4' less than out last outing. This run presented a more realistic view of what we are in for this year, slower water speed, headwinds, horseflies, heat - all the stuff that makes an adventure an adventure. Our gear seems pretty tuned in, need to add a few things to our supplies, athletic tape, more advil, spare shades but i feel like we are fairly prepared with our gear. I wish we could have gotten more miles on the river to date but such is life and we are where we are.
  I have found myself talking about how the sense of adventure isn't quite the same this time around. It feels like it is not quite as mysterious as last year, which is to be expected i suppose. Our goals have changed, i feel like we are fairly prepared, the river still feels good and i love being out there but once you are on the river a large portion of the challenge is mental. What i found on last saturday's run was that it's really not easy to get into a mental state that allows you to sit still, in a boat, and paddle for 8 hours. Last year leading up to the race the training runs were a great time to think about all kinds of things relating to the race and it helped pass the time and i remember the start of the race last year getting all antsy and getting all our stuff together and getting in the boat the starting gun going off and boom, sit still for the next 18hrs. On saturday it seemed like it took me a good 3 hours to get into the "zone" but i had a hard time staying there seemed like it would come and go. Maybe that is the challenge this year, focus on the task at hand. This race is a really great exercise for living a lifestyle that is less distracted, more focused. At some point on the river, probably near the end of the first day, all the nervous energy will be spent and it will be easy to focus on the task at hand-- keeping it pointed down stream.

ft. osage railraod bridge looking upstream.
kaw point, looking up the kaw river.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 9 2013 training run

Our first river run this year. The USGS river gage at K.C. read 15.75 feet which is about 5 feet higher than the river was most of last year, and 10' lower than last week- which would account for the debris and silt on the boat ramps. 
  It's interesting to get back on the river, carrying the boat down to the ramp at Kaw point reminded me of the MR340 last year, and about the wacky amount of gear we had started the race with last year.  It was nice having so much tuned in already, having our race boxes, water jugs setup, long sleeves, shades, hats etc. all the stuff we were figuring out last year was already done. 
  The weather started out gloomy but cleared out nicely to be a partly sunny day in the low 80's a nice breeze at our back. It didn't take long to realize we have been out of the boat for way too long, shoulders were stiff and my lower back was sore (saturday spent moving motorcycles didn't help that). The river felt good and familiar, all the buoys seemed to have been washed away but we managed to navigate just fine without them. We thought we would shoot for Lexington but decided to exit at Ft. Osage, a nice 30 mile paddle to get back in the swing of things. 
  A few thoughts from the outing:
-get more comfortable, sporty sunglasses. the wayfarers look cool but when you are sweating and they are sliding down your greasy nose it's just not cool.
-rubber hose or noodle or something for the gunwales. this boat is much narrower than the grumman but all it takes is one sloppy stroke and it's instant hurt knuckles and a p.o'ed paddler...
- pack ibuprofen, paddling with a headache sucks.

It was a good day, it feels like we have most things in place now we just need to put some time in on the water. The difference from a year ago to now is almost comical, I can still see Sam and I unloading the Wasson led sled. with a couple of Dick's sporting goods paddles, zig-zagging our way up the Kaw with the kayaker (Doug?) watching us trying to give us pointers on how to paddle in a straight line. and how epic it felt to paddle " all the way" to Missouri City. The adventure is different this year but it is an adventure just the same. I always come off the Missouri river feeling this way and it sounds dorky but it really is a beautiful river, and i really love being out on it.  


the boat. kaw point 8:30 am

henry inspecting the boat while enjoying a chocolate milk. 
somewhere between la benite and mo. city. turned out to be a great day.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday on Lake Olathe

Sam picked up the new rig for this years race, a Wenonah Minnestoa III. Kevlar layup maybe? Either way it is a whole different class of canoe when compared to the Grumman. It tracks amazingly straight in my opinion and turned relatively easy, at least compared to the C2 we tested out previously. You still had to make a pretty wide arc but last time I checked there weren't many hairpin turns on the MO.

And here we are almost a year to the date from our first outing in the aluminum Wasson-canoe. We got out and motored like a couple of seasoned amateurs. You can see the extent of my cool weather active gear, flannel. Warm weather is right around the corner looking forward to getting this boat out on the river and see how she performs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beach party

Henry and I and the dogs got out this last weekend for a Missouri River beach party. It was chilly but as long as we got out of the wind we warmed up nicely.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

2013 - MR 340

Sam and I are on the boat hunt for the 2013 MR 340. Sam got a line on this C-2 for sale here in town. It was a balmy 50 degree day, seemed like a perfectly good idea to try out a new boat, sure the water might be a little chilly if we were to tip it over but I was totally confident in our ability to stay dry. And we did stay dry, a few moments felt as though we were certain to tip but we settled in nicely. While this boat was significantly faster, tracked amazingly straight and didn't feel too bad once we got moving it doesn't look like the boat we are after. I think the first 50-100 miles wouldn't be too bad but the lack of room and the stability issues that one would encounter on day 2-3 really concerned us, so the search is refined and the hunt continues. Thanks for letting us try out the boat krista.