Dispatch 8 [2014]

06/16/14 AT 23:36:20

3 weeks out.

Kudos to those of you who have done some long training runs in some tough conditions.  It's been a rough pre-season with lots of wind and rain.   

Another training opportunity is this coming Saturday with the Freedom Race put on by Midwest Paddle Racing.  More info here:

It's June 21 from Boonville (Lamine River Access) to Jefferson City.  A stretch of river you'll see during the 340.  And two MR340 checkpoints..Katfish Katy's and Jeff City.  Great chance to network with 50 other boats entered and lots of paddlers.  And a great way to get dialed in for the 340 a couple weeks later.

River should be high and fast from some recent heavy rains in northeast Nebraska heading this way. 

As of today, the river looks good locally but the water from up north will raise us about 5 feet in KC to a crest on Thursday morning of about 20.5 feet.  Then a sharp decline back down to around 17 by this time next week.  If the race were held today, we'd be going. Same with next Tuesday. 

Before you get too excited about a high water year, the longer range forecasts have the river closer to 14 by race day.  Which is on the high side of average, but nothing to brag to your grandchildren about. 

But everything can change with a heavy rain or two.  So stay tuned.

I've mentioned before, the "highest" 340 was 2010 at 18.25 on the KC gauge.  That year went well with lots of records set and fewer than normal DNFs. (Did not finish)

We did have two instances that year of paddlers getting too close to obstacles and having problems.  I will review them so that your own personal learning curves might be shortened.

One person was coming into Glasgow late at night.  Must have been the pre-dawn hours of day 2.  Also knows as night 1.  Due to the recent high water there was a huge nest of logs pinned to one of the bridge piers just before the checkpoint.  The paddler got too close to this and the boat got pinned to the pile.  The paddler swam out and was picked up by a River Relief safety boat just downstream.  River Relief got the paddler's boat when the sun came up.  Paddler finished a couple days later.

Second instance happened later that day just 10 miles down in Lisbon Bottoms.  With the water high, the chute at Lisbon was pulling lots of water out of the main channel and into the back channel behind the island.  There was also lot of logs and debris pinned at the head of this chute.  Two paddlers in a tandem canoe got too close to this chute and their boat got pinned to the rack of logs stuck there.  They stepped out of the boat and onto the rack.  Their boat was eventually crushed by the pressure of the water and never recovered.  They were rescued off the log pile by the Glasgow Fire Department with some pretty fancy boat work.

Lesson to be learned from this is that during higher than normal water, you have to be extra careful about staying away from fixed objects.  The river is faster and that's great.  But that means everything happens faster and when things go bad, they can go bad quickly.

The good news is that hundreds of other paddlers paddled right by those two spots with zero incident.  This is not like floating an Ozark stream and rounding a bend to see a giant strainer across the whole river.  On the Missouri there are always a hundred paths around a problem.  The first paddler went too close to a pier.  Always take the middle of a span between piers.  The second boat got too close to the chute at Lisbon (a spot on the river we talk about at length during the safety meeting)  This is a spot we emphasize staying away from.   If you're freaking out right now, don't.  It's nothing to lose sleep over.  If you're curious, check it out.

If that link works like it does on my computer, you should see the spot where the tandem got stuck.  There are a bunch of logs stuck there in the satellite view with water flowing through them.  Heck, their boat might still be in there.  But if you zoom out you'll see there's lots of room to be away from that chute.  Hundreds of yards in fact. 

The lesson of Lisbon is always stay in the middle.  And use your ears!  I was there when the Glasgow Fire Department parked their boat on that rack and the paddlers stepped on.  The river was LOUD going through that chute.  You can hear Lisbon way before you get there. 

Most of you will go through Lisbon in the daylight between 5am and 9pm Wednesday   Only the very fastest go through in the dark of night one.  And only the very slowest go through after dark Wednesday.  Reaper will be leaving no later than 7pm Wednesday.

Enough about Lisbon.  If you are faaaaasst and find yourself going through at night, use your ears, stay in the middle, all good.  If you go through like 80% of you will, in broad daylight, stay in the middle, snap a blurry picture of the chute, all good.  And if you're in the back 10% that might go through at dusk, night two, just stay with the Reaper and the sweep boat and do what they do. 

And so we've covered Lisbon Bottoms for the 9th time since 2006. Usually anticlimactic.  The way we like it.


Some of you have written and asked about the possibility of a flood delay.  As stated, the river is higher than normal right now.  We are NOT at flood stage.  Later this week when the Nebraska water gets here, a few of the downstream gauges will just touch minor flood stage for a day or so before falling back below.  Again, long range Army Corps of Engineers data shows the river falling hard after that crest and settling into what is close to a normal summer flow for early July.  However, a series of large storms could always screw that up.  We will keep you informed here on the forum. 

When you registered, it listed the make up date as August 12-15.  We hope we're all home that week still telling stories from the greatest 340 ever, July 8-11, 2014.  We have every reason to expect to go on time, 3 weeks from today.


Still 8 TBDs sitting there on the roster.  Get your partner signed up.  We have to start printing lists for volunteers. 

Also, still some of you on there who need to send us a boat number.  Find your name on the roster and fix your TBDs or your boat numbers asap.

Roster is here:

As always, I am available for all your questions and concerns.  Hundreds upon hundreds have paddled this race from KC to St. Charles and fallen in love with the Missouri River.  Get excited!  It's almost go time.


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