Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Day 11
Day 11: Walking the KATY Trail (August 6)
This is a day we had planned for a long time. Up early, we checked in with out hosts at Catfish Katy’s, a simple campground on the shore if the Missouri about two hours north of St. Louis. Catfish Katy’s is located in Huntsdale, Missouri, about seven miles south of Rocheport. The town of Rocheport boasts the most romantic B&B on the Missouri, Mighty Mo’s Canoe rental, and available bikes. Our goal for today: walk the seven miles to Rocheport and find a way home.
Catfish Katy’s takes its name from the Katy Trail, our nation’s longest rails-to-trails conversion project with more that 240 miles of former Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad track turned greenway and path. We were camped 200 yards off the trail. The walk from Huntsdale to Rocheport covers some of the most beautiful miles: white cliffs, bridges, rail tunnels, elevated vistas and damp proximities – all traversed by Lewis and Clark. Their journals include descriptions and illustrations of many of the sights we saw today.
Along the way we sang songs, picked flowers, climbed rocks, sipped springs, viewed Native American paintings, explored caves, and avoided the caves filled with endangered bats. And we got exhausted. August and I have been hiking together for months now, but seven miles with a seven year old took a long time. At 6.5 mile we found a sign for Les Bourgeois Winery and Bistro and took the quarter mile (entirely uphill) detour for food. I had, possibly, the best hamburger I have ever tasted. Noelle had rabbit sausage, and August had pasta (and rabbit, and burger).
Refreshed with the local wine, I made my way swiftly to Rocheport while Noelle and August sauntered. As our day was swiftly moving to a close, I rented a bike and raced the seven miles back to Hunstdale, packed the bike in the RV, and drove back to Rocheport (more than 13 miles by roller-coaster back roads) to pick up my family. While they walked seven miles, I ultimately walked nine, and biked seven. But we were wthin sight of the Missouri the entire way.
The beauty of a rails-to-trails project is that, if you stay on the path, it is a supremely easy walk – firm, straight and level path (no more than 2% grade) the entire way. Though we covered about the same mileage today as the original expedition covered in an average day, Lewis and Clark and their Corp pulled/dragged/pushed three boats upstream against a six to seven mile-an-hour current. They complained about mosquitoes; we had repellant. They had meager provisions and a quill of whiskey; we had gourmet cooking and the best local wine.
Then again, we had a seven year old.
This was a day filled with …
. * abundant magic, wonder, and amazing observations and conversations;
. * whining, frustration, cajoling and encouragement to “keep on going”;
. * deep satisfaction with a journey begun, an endeavor undertaker and a sense of accomplishment.
Now, we’ve got just about 4000 miles to go…
Read: Bret Dufur, The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook: America’s Longest Rails-to-Trails Project (Pebble Publishing, 1999).