Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Friday, August 22, 2008
Hermann, MO to Defiance, MO
46 miles (8002 total miles)

Today started out cloudy and threatening; the ground was still wet from a recent drizzle when we left our motel. We stopped for breakfast a couple of blocks away and chatted with two guys from St. Louis who came to Hermann often and were regulars at this restaurant. Another couple of guys came in while we were eating, having checked out our bike first. They had a canoe on top of their van and were going to race it in an annual race from Hermann to the Missouri-Mississippi confluence in St. Louis. They both had tandems as well and were very impressed with ours. We left the restaurant at 7:50, taking a couple more pictures of the quaint buildings in town, and headed back to the Katy Trail. The trail was wetter than it was yesterday, and there was more debris on the trail, including some tree branches. Most of the trail, though, was still in very good shape and we actually made slightly better time today. We passed more fantastic bluffs, creeks, bridges, crops, wetlands, and, of course, the river, as well as a number of little towns. There seemed to be more wetlands today, maybe because of the rain, and we saw a flock of egrets, one heron, and several other smaller birds - even a small group of cardinals! We also saw a few more turtles and lots of little frogs who hopped out of our way as we approached. And we had lots of butterflies, dragonflies and grasshoppers along the trail as well (not to mention scores of mosquitoes). There weren't many historic markers today, but the bulletin boards at the trailheads had some interesting information about the highlights along the trail. There was one write-up on Daniel Boone, who is from this area.

While we saw only 2 fellow travelers yesterday, we had a bumper crop today - we passed at least 24 other bicyclists and 4 walkers, oh, and one guy on an ATV (he lived on a farm along the trail). We met Aaron Waxman near the Marthasville trailhead. He was from DC and was heading to California; he had had a run-in with a car early on his trip which took him 3 weeks to recover from, but he still went on with his trip - that certainly takes guts! We stopped at Marthasville to have lunch together - he had food with him, but we had to go a little ways to find an open restaurant, so we ended up eating there and meeting back up with him later. We had a very pleasant chat with him before going on our way. We met a local guy at the next trail stop, Dutzow, who was heading our way and had gone through a brief shower at Treloar, about 10 miles back. We were surprised because it hadn't been raining at all when we went through there. But the weather today was like that - we ran into a similar shower near the end of the day. We talked with 2 of the guys on foot today - one was an older gent from the Ozarks who was just out for a 4-5 hour walk on the trail. The other was a young guy who was carrying a very heavy pack and was going the entire distance of the trail. We noticed an ATV coming up behind us on one point and pulled off to let him get by. It turned out we pulled off on the road he was about to turn down, so we stopped to chat. He told us about the 1993 flood that had flooded his field from the river over to the foot of the hills on the other side of the trail. He also said that sometimes floods were good because they left a rich silt layer on the fields, but when the floods caused the levees to break, the rush of water usually gouged the land up and left a lot of sand, which was not good. Finally, we passed a local guy on a bike who turned around to ride with us. He joined us around Augusta, the last trailhead we passed today and rode with us the last 7 miles to Defiance. Bob, who was from St. Charles, had lots of interesting stories to tell about his bike trips and about his work for McDonald-Douglas, working on the Mercury space capsules. As we approached Defiance, we found a large tree branch blocking the entire trail; Bob said it hadn't been there 45 minutes ago when he came by this point in the other direction. It appeared that a tree had just split, spilling its branches across the trail. It was lucky no one was there when it happened.

We said goodbye to Bob in Defiance, after stopping for a soda at a bar near the trail. Our motel was a short way off the trail with a restaurant right next door. We arrived at the motel at 4, having gone over 45-1/2 miles in under 5-1/4 bike hours, a little better than yesterday. Tomorrow we'll go another 16 miles on the trail and then head into St. Louis. We were surprised to find, when we updated our route on the web site, that we had actually reached our 8,000 mile mark - we thought we would be just a little short. So tomorrow morning we'll see if we can get our usual celebratory photo taken. Just about 1,000 more miles to go!

The riverfront in Hermann

Another quaint building in Hermann

The plaque in front of the county building we saw from the bridge yesterday

Graceful trees line the Missouri where it splits around an island

The Lost Creek bridge - a through-truss type of bridge

Lost Creek

Branches down on the road

Bottomland area next to the river

Views of the Missouri and dark clouds overhead

Amazing bluffs

This is to give a sense of scale of the bluffs, compared with the trail below

This nautical sign warns boaters of hazards on the river

This marked our 100th mile on the trail

Pretty flowers by the trail

A boat club right on the river, prudently up on stilts

The first trailhead we came to today, at Treloar

The information board at Treloar

A corn field comes right up to the trail...

and way back to the river (those may be the Ozark mountains beyond)

This looked like the dodder plant/parasite we saw back in California

Puddles on the trail...

and under an overpass

Egrets in a wet area near the overpass

Aaron Waxman from DC, the only long-distance touring biker we saw today

Information boards at Dutzow

And a write-up about Daniel Boone

Another crop field with what may be the Ozarks in the distance

One of the walkers we met today - this gentleman lives in the Ozarks

The old train stop/grain elevator at Nona

The farmer on an ATV

The coal-fired power plant about 5 miles away in Labadie

The Augusta information boards talk about the big wine industry here...

and other highlights along the trail

Interesting buildings in Augusta, near the trailhead

A little brewery garden (beer is another specialty of the region)

The big St. Peter sandstone overhang, halfway between Augusta & Defiance

A view of the entire cliff there

Bob takes our picture on the bench under the cliff overhang

Bob stops in front of the tree branches that block the trail

Bob & Pat before we part company in Defiance