Monday, August 13, 2012

Missouri River Rumble-Day 3

A pull-out along the shore for a quick break.

Our second day on the Missouri would take us to Chamois, which they pronounce “Sham-OY”, a paddle of 15.4 miles. My distances will vary from those published in the planning guide. The point A to B distance for this run was 14 miles, but my GPS measured 15.4 for what I actually covered on the water.

Chamois was started with a hotel in 1854, and became a town two years later due to the newly built Missouri Pacific Railroad. Due to the Alpine-like scenery, it was named after Chamonix, France.

As a flat-water lake and coastal paddler, I enjoyed playing the current. If I swept the outside of the curves and tried to find the maximum current, I could run 6 to 7 mph as long as I didn’t get out far enough to catch an eddy. On the inside of the curve in the same area I’d run 3.4 mph, and once when I caught the edge of an eddy I dropped to 2.4. You had to pay attention, however, as you could get in trouble quickly. When running the curves you had to watch for debris close to the bank, and for breaks in the revetment. Revetment is rock or concrete facings on the banks to slow erosion. If a stream or pool existed behind the revetment, which happened frequently, the river would pour through the hole with tremendous force. The game was to avoid the sucking intake on the upstream end of the hole, but then to swing closer to catch the forceful discharge on the downstream end and get a big push.

While looking for a place for lunch, we nearly all ran over a wingdam with 1-2 foot rolling standing waves. One paddler got a bit off perpendicular with the waves and got rolled. A rescue boat was nearby and quickly got him back in his boat.

We had lunch in the Auxvasse River, or Muddy River. There were a few sections of solid bank, but not nearly enough for us all, and that left the rest of us spending way too much time just trying to find a place where we could get out of our boats. I was by this time dealing with a case of fanny fatigue, and desperately wanted a break on solid ground. I found one place that looked promising, pulled parallel to the shore, and stepped out. My leg sank straight to the knee and still wasn’t slowing a bit, so I quickly threw my weight back across Ibi’s cockpit. I was now stuck half in and half out of my boat and doing a split as Ibi tried to slide out from under me. I’m sure it would have made a great picture. Pulling too hard on my leg would just flip me over into the water and mud, so I had to lay across the boat and gradually jig my leg until I could work it to the surface. It was the greasiest, most clinging and black mud I’ve seen, and I brought pounds of it back into the boat with me, which covered everything in the cockpit. Finally, I joined others who had also found it impossible to get out of their boats, and rafted up along one shore near fallen trees where we could catch a couple feet of shade. There we had lunch.

In an eddy awaiting our turn at the ramp.

Chamois had a strictly one-boat ramp, so getting all the boats out was a slow process. As we usually did, we’d find an eddy to pull into and queue-up to wait our turns. I thought I had been drinking enough water. I had gone through a gallon of water and Gatorade mix, and yet as I waited in line, both legs began to cramp inside the boat. I jiggled and twisted, trying to make the cramps go away, and wondered if I’d have to roll out of the boat into the water to make the cramping stop. Then, by the time I got ashore, my left arm started cramping. The evening was hot, airless, and very humid. The first piece of gear I retrieved from the truck was my chair, and I just collapsed in it for awhile before putting up my tent.

We were camping around a public park and baseball field. I joined several others camping on the concrete floor of a group picnic pavilion. Until now, we had been using Rumble showers, but tonight we had actual showers, one each for the men and women, although the Rumble showers were still available. The Rumble shower was a valve and showerhead built on a wooden platform and pole. If actual facilities weren’t available, these would be connected to the nearest water source. It meant the water was 55-60 degrees, but with the heat, we soon adapted and welcomed the cold water. Some would return as many as four times during an evening just to cool off. The challenge was getting a full shower with an audience. Showering while clothed allowed us to bathe and do laundry at the same time. What efficiency!

A very nice dinner was done for us by the Women of the Lions Club, and the next morning the Ladies of the Knights of Columbus were up at 3 a.m. preparing breakfast. It was wonderful how the towns turned out to welcome us and make our visit interesting. Here, for example, the town challenged us to a softball game: the town’s Chamois Cardinals against the River Rumblers. Both teams were mixed, half men and half women, but a few of the town’s men were real beefeaters that would knock the ball either out of the field and into the woods, or onto the adjoining field where one ball bounced off a van. When the score reached 16 to 2 in favor of the Cardinals, they started the game over. The second score ended much the same way. As Rex put it, we were only trying to make them over-confident so we can really bowl them over next year.

Another rest break and a view down the Missouri.

Several of the lady paddlers organized a cheer leading section. Between some costume changes and original song compositions, if the game slowed down, the cheer leaders were just as entertaining.

We had a French teenager visiting the U.S. and joining the Rumble. Collin had never played an American baseball game before, but was taken on the field and given a three-minute crash course on baseball rules and sent off to left field. He received MVP and a “golden glove” award at our closing banquet. For his first baseball game ever, he made a base hit and four outs on the opposing team with balls caught in the outfield.

Okay, to be continued after a couple days off to paddle with the grandkids before they head back to school.
Cheers, jim

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