… down one of our rivers, the beauty of Missouri never ceases to amaze me. Whether it’s a beautiful sunfish that puts up a good fight or a lone wildflower surrounded by blades of grass, there’s something around every corner for anyone who gets in a canoe. I’m always looking for that next piece of serenity, but I also realize that not every floater is there for the same reason.
Sometimes I run into a pack of Boy Scouts, out for a weekend camping trip and Saturday float. There are boys who have obviously paddled a thousand canoes before, and there are boys who sit petrified in the middle with hands securely clamped to each side, just waiting for it to tip over. Since I’m taking the lazy way downstream, they usually pass me early on in the day, only for me to catch up with them as they stop for lunch later on.
Other times, a group of college-age kids go paddling by, in a hurry for what I don’t know. They probably won’t recognize most of the beauty around them, except maybe the beauty in the other canoes that they’re trying to impress. I’ll see them too, later on, but they won’t remember our second meeting most likely. In the winter they’ll look back on their floating experience as one of the best of their summer, and hopefully that memory will last a lifetime.
I’ll see a lot of families go by, tightly knit, close together by a worried mother. I’ll see Dad in one canoe with a kid or two, and Mom probably in another, trying desperately to keep the kids dry. It won’t work, of course; kids and water just go together in the summertime. If the kids are a little more experienced, Mom and Dad may get to float together and enjoy some of the sights and sounds that the Missouri rivers offer. Well, until Johnny jumps in chasing in after a frog.
Along the float I’ll meet a few male duos, probably escaping from their honey-do lists for a day of quiet fishing. It’s fun seeing them, even though I suppose they are my competition. I’ll ask how their day is going and report back that mine is a little better, and all is well as I toss my worm back in for another soaking.
No matter what your reason for taking a float trip down a Missouri river, I highly encourage you to make the time this year to do at least one. There’s nothing quite like taking in a day of quiet (or crazy) on one of our streams.
Written by Will Hanke, an avid floater who prefers the quieter path downstream. When he’s not in a canoe, Hanke runs Float Missouri, a website that promotes floating the rivers of Missouri, provides information on the wildlife you may encounter, and helps visitors find one of the many outfitters throughout the state.