What Could Go Wrong – 5/26/2014

This is a guest post by Jo Newbold, originally posted at Rivermiles.com. Its about a 40 mile paddle from Washington Missouri to St. Charles Missouri on the Missouri River.

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Beautiful, Beautiful day.  Not too hot.  No wind.  80% chance of rain…but not a cloud in sight.  Morning paddle gives Hogan, Cyndie and I the best possible chance of capturing that 20% chance of dry.  With opposite work schedules, this weekend is the first weekend Hogan and I have had to train in his Kruger Cruiser.  11 layers of Kevlar = 80# of pure joy.  I love this boat.  Dual rudder pedals almost guarantees that anything Hogan screws up I can unscrew.  Almost.

At the put in I am discombobulated…I forgot my paddle…where is my PFD?  I don’t need no stinking PFD.   We in in a cruiser barge for a quick trip on a perfect day.  I borrow Hogan’s spare paddle and, Yep, There it is!  My PFD tucked under the platform bed in my Astro.  I was so desperate to get on the water I was going to go without it.

Mile 20 flies by and Cyndie ducks out at Weldon.  Another 12 miles lets Hogan I know what we need to work on in future training events…like TRAINING.  Then my friend Hogan does something very characteristic of a father of two…He checks behind him to see what is going on. 

“Uh, JoJo.  We’re gonna get wet.”

JoJo does something very characteristic of JoJo.  “Ah!  We’ll be alright.”  “Paddle harder, Hogan.”

The black cloud loomed.  Every few minutes we checked and it was notably closer.  NOTABLY closer.  Like this thing is Eastbound with a vengeance and we have a long way to go with a short time to get there.  We ponder pulling over but I am thinking we will have notice when it is time to make for shore.  Then the most unusual moment of blondness crept from the back of the boat to the front of the boat.

“Wow!  JoJo, whats wrong with that sandbar back there?  It looks like it’s on fire.”   I peek and see a puff of “Smoke”.  I was impressed throughout our entire journey that day how many people were camping along the Missouri River.  I have NEVER seen anyone camp out along these precious shores.  So cool to see them.  There must have been a dozen campers this Memorial Day.  There wasn’t any wind but the wind was sure taking this “Campfire smoke” away fast.  Within 3 minutes we knew where the wind was.  The first gust hit us like a jet blast.  That in the air behind us was not campfire smoke leaving the sandbar..it was sandbar leaving the campfire!  It was our first warning to make for shore and we didn’t even recognize it.

So lucky….so so lucky, we are 10 feet past an L dike and 70 feet upstream of a wing dike.  That first gust told us to duck downstream of the wing dike but the second gust told us we would never make it.  I jam the right rudder in with intent to duck in behind the L dike and Hogan, Oh, Hogan, takes one quick moment to save his “Birth Control Hat.”  Oh, Hogan. 

I am thrown to the left…then to the right.  Not sure what was going on in the back of the boat. Or if he is still in the boat I yell, “Paddle! Hogan.  Give her all you got!”  We crank in about 30 strokes to shore where the sand disguised the clay as a welcome mat.  We decide to flip the boat over to keep our disheveled gear from launching.  It would also provide us protection if we needed to hide from driving rain or worse…hail.  In retrospect, I am not sure that was the smartest thing to do.  Now it can catch lift.  I saw a canoe endo three times in a windstorm on a lakeshore in Montana once.  I don’t know how strong this wind was, but catching us off side we just about became fish.  I think of the temptation of paddling without a PFD.  I think of what it would feel like to slam against that wing dike without shoes on.  Hogan thinks he must text his wife. 

We hunkered down and watched the peaceful river turn into a raging tyrant.  A motorist spots us while fleeing the fury and turns around to come for us!  We wave him off, but they are really concerned about us.  In the wind they can’t here us, so I write a message on the bottom of Hogan’s boat.  ” We’re OK.”  Missouri Mud is good for something.

In the end it was 48 minutes of wind and whitecaps.  Hardly a drop of rain.  Then it was done as fast as it started.  And we paddled to the obligatory Schlafly stashed in my van.

Same thing next week, anyone?

And now for the photos from our paddle