Holly Neill, Stream Teams United Executive Director
On Friday, September 23, people from across the state began gathering in Hermann, MO to begin a five-day journey down the last 100 miles of the Missouri River. For me, feelings of excitement offset with worries of all the things that could go wrong were swimming around inside me. Last year’s scholarship awardee Rob Hunt and I scouted Paddle Georgia with hopes to launch Paddle MO in 2016. By golly with the help of many partners, sponsors, board members, and cheerers, we did it!!! After intense planning and fundraising in a very short amount of time, we were in Hermann, registering folks on a warm Friday evening from all over the state and ranging in ages from 28-74. The first Paddle MO Event had 31 thru-paddlers (i.e., paddled the full 5 days) and 31 lite-paddlers (i.e., paddled for a few days) for a total of 62 paddlers! On Saturday, September 24, we launched our boats from Hermann and began the 100-mile journey with some expected stops and some surprises along the way, such as rainbows and shooting stars! Paddlers averaged around 20 miles each day and refueling was a focal point of the Paddle MO event. Participants tasted the flavors of the Missouri River Valley through locally sourced ingredients and locally owned restaurants. Additional highlights of the event were learning opportunities through casual exploring of river towns and with historical and scientific experts presenting on a variety of topics. On our last evening together, we gazed at planets Mars and Saturn through high-powered telescopes and then enjoyed sounds of local musicians while relaxing by a dancing fire. The event concluded as we reached the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers on Wednesday, September 28. The group counted down from 10 as the confluence neared and then all shouted “Paddle MO!” followed by a song taught to all by a participant about the Mighty Missouri River. I couldn’t have imagined a more spectacular journey for the first annual Paddle MO. A sincere thanks to all our sponsors and supporters and to all the participants that shared in the first ever Paddle MO event!
Caty Paddles the Missouri River – 100 Missouri Miles
100 Miles on the Big Muddy – eMissourian