Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tour of Missouri: Katy Trail State Park: Booneville to McBaine

I am obsessed. I can't stop thinking about it. It is sorta like a drug to me. I am perpetually planning how to get more. I am not talking about a food. Or drink. I am talking about the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri.

Over Memorial Day Weekend the family and I rode our first 40 miles. It was the longest I had ever rode my bicycle at one time. We hit the trail again the end of June for a shorter ride. Our goal was to go 23 miles; from Booneville, MO to McBaine, MO.

The Boy was not able to go with us on this leg; it is his father's weekend. But a few new faces joined us on our journey. Our friends, Angie, Allen, and Mike were all geared up for their first ride on the Katy.

Biking the Katy takes a bit of coordination. You either bike end to end, which I am not in shape to do. Or, you park at one trail head, bike to a point and turn around; or, you have car support (which we did last ride); or, you use multiple cars and leave one at the starting trail head and one at the ending trail head.

We chose the last option for this ride. We dropped the men and bikes at the beginning trail head to prepare the bikes while we women caravanned to the ending trail head and back.

We started off a little before ten a.m. The first thing we did was cross the Missouri River. The bikers and cars share the bridge but the bikers have their own lane.

Someday soon the Katy Trail will travel a new bridge.  The photo below is the newly acquired bridge that will someday soon welcome the Katy Trail. 

We arrived at the first trailhead just moments after crossing the Missouri River. There isn't much of the Franklin trail head other than a sign to let you know you made it. We soon found ourselves on our way to New Franklin, MO traveling past field after field of Missouri crops. 

Shortly after the New Franklin trail head we passed Katy Roundhouse. Katy Roundhouse is a campground and RV park frequented by bikers.  Remember the Katy Trail is a Rail to Trail trail and remnants  of the railways can be found  on the trail. Behind the Katy Roundhouse sign is a wooden structure used to lift trains off the tracks. 

Railroad remnants are not signs of history on the trail. This old grain elevator are signs of a thriving town that no longer exist. 

I changed a few things from the first ride to the second. I purchased gloves for my hands and they worked great in providing support. I also purchased a new bike. The bike is lighter and faster than the old bike.The Husband told me I averaged 4 mph faster this ride than the first. 

Rain clouds followed us all day on our ride. As we approached Rocheport, MO we got sprinkled on but the rain did not last long. We were very happy to see the stone tunnel that welcomes you to Rocheport. We were super hungry and ready for lunch. 

We enjoyed an hour long lunch break at The Trailside Cafe. The owners were super great about letting us fill up our water bottles. 

Outside Rocheport is this old railroad ammunition storage room built into the massive cliffs that line the Missouri River. 

Years of exposure to Missouri weather has mostly worn down the Native American pictographs but if you look closely, you can still see them on the cliff. Right below these pictograpshs is a cave with a creek running through it. The cave is on private property so we did not explore any part of it.  

Right after we left the pictographs, Allen started experiencing leg cramps. Luckily we found a bench and Angie helped him stretch out. The Husband got leg cramps really badly on the last leg.  I guess these old bodies just need to get use to all this biking.

Shortly after Allen got better, we rode past a clearing to view the river. We could see that right up ahead of us it was raining and there was no way we were going to miss it. So, we put our heads down and rode straight into the rain. It was no soft gentle sprinkle of rain. This was a hard, completely drenching rain. The fun part about biking in the rain is the tires through the mud back up on you!  By the time the rain cleared we were all soaked and muddy!

We stopped along Terrapin Creek  to whip off our glasses and laugh about the rain.  We also took a few moments to check out the creek to see if we could actually find any turtles. True to its name, the creek was full of snapping turtles. 

The rain should have been the highlight of this leg. However, a few miles down the trail, we pulled over to stretch our legs one last time before we reached our destination trail head. In fact, we were three miles. That is when Angie asked me the question that had been gnawing at her for miles. The second she asked me if I did remember to pull the keys to the vehicle at the destination trail head from the vehicle at the beginning, I knew I had not. 

We were about to reach our destination, a truck waiting for us, but no keys to drive that truck. I was not looking forward to breaking this news to The Husband or the other members of our biking party. 

We arrived in McBaine in great time and I had to break the news to The Husband. The Husband thought I was joking. When he realized I was not joking he immediately starting working out solutions. His solution required him to bike another 23 miles back to the keys. Then some complete strangers offered to drive him to the keys if he would bike a few miles up the MKT Trail (a spur off the Katy that goes into Columbia, MO).  The Husband redid the math and figured that their offer was way less miles to bike than his original plan of 23. 

The Husband took off with these nice strangers as the other four of us waited at the McBaine Trail Head.  For 2 1/ 2 hours we waited. The wait allowed me to double back on the trail and visit the oldest tree in Missouri. It can be found 1 1/2 miles west of McBaine and off the trail about .15 of a mile off the trail. 

The tree is huge. I am really glad I doubled back to visit it. 

This time, after visiting the tree, my approach to McBaine was filled with a lot less tension. I did not have bad news to break as soon as I arrived. So, I leisurely made my way back. I saw a lot of bright blue birds on the trail (they were really hard to get a photo of with my point and shoot!).

This old bridge is at mile marker 169.7 and crosses Perche Creek. Just east of this bridge is the McBaine Trail head.

Two and half hours after we first arrived at McBaine, The Husband arrived by vehicle with the keys to the truck that was meant to take us all back to Booneville.  The Husband and I have now completed 60 miles on The Katy Trail. And I have reached 92 Missouri Miles.

I think this day, which started with us leaving our homes at 6:00 a.m., biking 23 miles (33 miles for The Husband), getting rained on, forgetting keys and getting home at 11:00 p.m. deserved a cheers. This is one for the record book!


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