Big Muddy Wildlife Area to Cooper’s Landing
Boone County, Missouri
Saturday, April 25
I have not been able to paddle the past month, due to a shoulder injury sustained at the MWA Whitewater Clininc earlier in April. DW has done a couple of short floats since then and has blogged them for you all! I hope to be back in action in June.
Lee and I met our friend Richard at Cooper’s Landing to drop off a vehicle for our shuttle. Given I’d spent one of my few hour-plus breaks on the Missouri River 340 race here enjoying beer and Thai food, we didn’t pause to scout the take out. We then journeyed west about 30 minutes to the Big Muddy river access. Upon arriving at the access it was quite apparent how it got its name. The road was covered in several inches of slick river mud. Having an all-wheel-drive vehicle was necessary, as the two wheel drive truck we left at the access likely would not have made it close to the river.
There is supposed to be another road in Big Muddy that takes you to Taylor access, but this road was blocked off. So we continued to a parking lot with an overflow ‘pond’ that is an access for fisherman in small boats. The only direct access to the river was down the blocked off road and that looked like quite the muddy portage for our preferences. We unloaded at the parking lot and Lee, being on the ‘injured reserve list’ due to an April white water injury, headed off for a hike and to eventually pick me up at Cooper’s Landing.
Richard and I threw the boats in the pond and paddled across it in a few short minutes and then begin our first and only portage of the trip. We paddled to where Interstate 70 crosses the pond and I guessed this may be the least rough route to travel. I followed some very small critter trail the best I could, clearing somewhat of a path for Richard. By the time the trail made it to a view of the river I was thinking I was following a pack rat path. We eventually made it after 10 minutes of bushwhacking through last season’s dead, dry weeds.
This was Richard’s first trip on the mighty Missouri River and my first trip in Lee’s 17′ boat. It didn’t take long to remind me I’ve not been in a narrower long boat since the MR340, so I spent a lot of time learning its lines and trying to not fall in. We paddled down past some pretty bluffs on river left and enjoyed them for the better part of an hour. Once those were out of sight we ventured on to Katfish Katie’s, also on river left. With the size of the Missouri River it’s easy to do a 12 – 17 mile trip and see only three bends and sets of views before you are done.
There was a really nice, long sand bar just down and across the river from Katfish Katy’s campground. We continued down the river and around the bend. On river left was the second and last sand bar of the trip. After chatting with Richard we determined it was best to continue downstream. The reason we didn’t stop at either beautiful sand bar we passed was simply due to the ominous clouds all around us. Though we got lucky and missed getting any significant rain event, it seemed to happen all around us and most of the time we were away from our camp they were getting rained on. We ventured on a couple miles or so to Cooper’s Landing without any weather issues and enjoyed some cold beer and good Thai food!