Overnight the temperature had fallen to 44 degrees, and I was up shortly after 4, shivering. I’d brought a 50 degree sleeping bag, because 9 times out of 10, this would of been plenty of bag for the end of September. I hurriedly put everything I’d brought on, and slowly started to warm up. I can remember thinking to myself, ” Do I really need leg warmers? Will I use this puffy?” Thankfully, I’d packed both. I drank about 6 cups of coffee, walked all over the camp ground, and even stomped my feet, to keep the blood flowing and to hold onto some warmth.
Marc got up, and I soon found out he had shivered the night away as well. He grunted and groaned, and then disappeared back into his tent for another layer of clothing. The sun finally arrived, and we broke down our camp, hanging our tent flies in the sunny spots to speed their drying. Today wasn’t going to be a long day, as we were going to drop down into Columbia for lunch, and then continue on to Hartsburg for our overnight.
The scenery changes greatly on this part of the trail. The large swaths of farmland and prairie get replaced with the Missouri River on one side, and large rocky cliffs on the other. Sometimes the cliffs are towering over top of you, and other times they’re subdued, hidden behind the canopy of trees.
We take the side trail to Columbia at Hindman Junction, and start day dreaming about food. The closer we get to Columbia, the more runners, dog walkers, and cyclists start appearing. We eventually reach the town, and find a diner within sight of the trail. Food devoured, we hit a Walgreens that was visible from the diner, and then head back to the Katy.
Unbeknownst to us, when we left Columbia, we were also leaving behind trail side resupply. There would be no easy access to stores of any sort for the next 70 miles. “Easy access” is the key word here. Sure, you can go off-route in N Jefferson, and we eventually found a Dollar General a mile north of the trail in Mokane, but these involve a decent amount of navigation, and you really have to hunt to find them. The Dollar General didn’t appear on Google Maps, a local eventually told us about it. If you come through here on a weekend, your chances improve some what, with a small store available in Claysville, and most of the town diners open for business. Nothing was open in Hartsburg when we arrived, other than a bar…where everyone smoked inside. After setting up camp, we rode the 20 miles round-trip to North Jefferson, where if you look off to your right after seeing the town sign, you’ll see a golf course. Head to that golf course for snacks, hot dogs, beer, etc.
Day 2- New Franklin to Harsburg – Tuesday, September 29, 2020.
Morning temp: 44 High: 68
Coffee and a small bike shop available trailside in Rocheport at the Meriwether Cafe. CLOSED WEDNESDAY. https://meriwethercafeandbikeshop.com/
The trail to Columbia is well marked at Hindman Junction (9 miles each way.)
The stretch from New Franklin to Hindman Junction is a popular favorite with trail riders/runners/walkers. The scenery goes up exponentially as you approach Rocheport, with the only remaining “real” tunnel on the trail lying on the west side. The cliffs and river views are spectacular through here, and there’s a decent amount of Lewis and Clark history as well. A good day trip from Columbia to the tunnel and back (45-ish miles,) would give you a good taste of the trail in all of its glory.
We camped in Hartsburg at the American Legion Park, which is .3 miles south of the trail. There is also camping available in Volunteer Park, which sits right off the trail, next to the caboose. We chose American Legion Park as it had bathrooms on site, and also had electrical outlets on the west side of the building. There’s also a large pavilion here, so if rain was in the forecast, I’d check this place out. Call 573-999-1016 and let them know you’re camping. They’ll send someone out to unlock the bathroom for you. This place is FREE, but there’s a small donation box in the pavilion for the local Lion’s Club if you’re so inclined.