Thursday, August 02, 2007

MR340 Day 2 Trip Report

Paul and I went to the lake last evening and paddled with the local Wednesday night paddling group (photo above). The 93 degree temps were a bit reminiscent of the heat we had on the 2nd day of the MR340. And it was fun getting reacquainted with my seakayak after paddling so many miles in my Kruger Dreamcatcher.

There was no breeze on the 2nd day of the MR340 race, it was a scorcher. We left the Miami checkpoint having had only a few hours sleep Tuesday night, knowing we would try for 115 miles today, with a goal of camping at Jefferson City. We didn't stop for long at Glascow only 37 miles away, other than for the check point sign in. The sign placed on a bridge "Only 199 miles To Go" meant we needed to keep paddling. At the next boat ramp between the checkpoints (I believe at Lisbon Bottoms), Dana greeted us with a wonderful surprise, ice cream. I ate the whole pint in less than 10 minutes :)

Later in the afternoon, so hot and exhausted, we decided we would look for a shady spot on the side of the river to take an hour nap. This would allow us to paddle very late into the night in the cooler temps. We just couldn't make this happen, and we ended up wasting about 20 minutes looking for a spot that was not muddy. We finally just gave up after loosing our spare time, but we did allow ourselves another 15-20 minutes to just rest and float, we missed our napping opportunity, but at least we were still moving and resting.

This was also the day of the barges. At least 4 barges passed us going up river. Alan tried a few times to catch some wake waves after the barge would pass, but we were careful to give them a lot of room. If you come upon a barge near points where the river makes some turns, it takes a while for your brain to figure out how the channel crosses over and back to make sure you are not going to be in the barges path. It is not always intuitive as you look down this seemingly wide river.

Early the next morning we would would hear the horrific news that Ann and Wayne had miraculously survived unhurt after being hit by a moving barge paddling their Huki tandem Outrigger. I think this left all of us racers a bit emotionally fragile for the remainder of the race.

Coopers Landing, the 5th checkpoint in the race was bustling with activity when we arrived a bit after 10PM. Stan and Dana had Subway sandwiches for us, a real treat after all the energy bars and other energy foods we'd been eating and drinking. We didn't stay long though, and got back in the boats, floating for a few minutes while we ate our sandwiches, and calculating that we would make Jefferson City sometime around 3AM. It was going to be a very long day.

It is the people who do these challenges, that keep me interested in continuing to do do them as well. They are a varied lot, from all walks of life, all shapes and sizes (not all are serious racers in top physical condition), and they enter these challenges for many different reasons. They are the very types of people that I love to meet, get to know, and hang out with. They love the outdoors and the environment, kayaking and canoeing, physical activity, and are not afraid of hard personal challenges. I got to meet up with some old friends from previous races and challenges, like RiverJohn, John Flegg below, and Marek and his wife Connie, and of course Mark and Brian, these all other Kruger paddlers.

And there were new people to meet this year, too many to go into much detail, and all very fascinating. It was great fun to get to meet and spend a few minutes or an hour paddling with the racers as you chanced upon them.

Alan and I came upon Jeff Barrow, at a time when I was starting to think this river was getting a bit boring. Flat, and lined with trees covered with Kudzu. Jeff coordinates river cleanups for Missouri River Relief, so he was totally familiar with the area, and in fact told us that the very bank we were passing, he played on as a child. His canoe sailed a flag with the logo for the Missouri River Relief. Jeff told us stories of the river, the past floods, and the renewed effort of building wildlife habitats that trail off the river, and he spoke of the diverse wildlife. I had not even realized that the charts I was using, showed both the Missouri River as it was during the days of Lewis and Clark, as well as how the river has changed to what it is now. Having met Jeff, I actually started seeing a much more diverse and interesting river. Another interesting note, Jeff left the race for a 12 hour period to do a book signing, after which he got right back in the race and still finished at 96 hours and 43 minutes. I was there at the finish to cheer him in.

Then there was Eric Pepos, probably my favorite of those I met, certainly the paddler we might have spent the most time with, though less than a couple hours. Eric paddled with us a bit on both the 2nd and 3rd day, so we got to visit quite a bit. He was paddling a beautiful wooden strip built canoe that he had made himself, it was very low volume to reduce windage. He talked to me a lot about canoeing. He is from Oregon, and paddles five times a week from 4AM to 6AM every morning, all year long on a local river. He often paddles the Columbia River, and even takes his canoe out in open surf. He was using a bent shaft carbon fiber canoe paddle similar to mine, and explained to me the difference between 'J-stroke' and 'sit and switch', with my rudder I don't need to switch nearly as often. He was a very strong and a very fast paddler. I also really enjoyed the stories of his young twins, already starting to learn yoga, we laughed as he told the story of them pulling off thier diapers and trying to do down dog; naked yoga. He was excited that his kids would soon be 2 years old, and his wife has agreed that he can then take them out in a canoe. He also told me that he hoped that when they were 21, he could be doing something like this with one of them, as I was with doing now with Alan, as he'd be the same age as I then.

Alan (photo above) and I paddled into Jefferson City at 3:09 AM, very tired. A wonderful boy scout offered to help set up my tent, Alan just opting for the thermarest on the ground. We slept till 6:30AM, three very noisy hours. I was sure every truck in America had driven over the Jefferson City bridge while I tried to sleep. We planned to paddle to the finish the 3rd day, so we lightened our load, leaving any unnecessary miscellaneous gear with Stan, and got back on the water by 7:30.


Noel said...

Great story! Glad you had such a good time. :)

Is the sentence: "I also really enjoyed the stories of his young twins; naked yoga." a typo?


Kristen said...

I took that to be their names: "Naked" and "Yoga".

And it looks as though I too will have to wait until wee one is two before he goes paddling...

Dawn (aka SandyBottom) said...

Oops, not thier names, but great stories about young babies who won't keep diapers on, and who practice down dog.
I'll fix the wording to avoid mis-interpretation.

pdxsolo said...

Dawn, Thanks for the nice comments. You and your son have also have left a special notch on my paddle. I have only paddled about 50 miles since the race and have just recently started training again-9 mile race next week :-( My son Cedar took his first paddle in Cordova Bay near Victoria BC last week. He loved it. Where as my daughter prefered to cheer her brother on from the beach. Shouting Jiao O, Jiao O (GO Go -we have been teaching them chinese) Went on a early early morning paddle today and thought about you guys paddling the last leg, moonlit with the high cliffs of the missouri surrounding you and your son. what a way to finish.
"the mind remembers from a deaper sleep"-Roethke
If your in Oregon email me. You and yours are always welcome.