Fort Leavenworth Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass laughs as his friend, Terry Trafton, of Lee's Summit, Mo., helps Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter Katie Peterson maneuver her canoe away from their jon boat Aug. 8 on the Missouri River. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

My arms still feel like rubber, but it’s worth it because I would never trade the experience of canoeing down the Missouri River.

Fort Leavenworth Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass and his friend, Terry Trafton, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., approach Centennial Bridge and their exit point after rowing about 10 miles of the Missouri River Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


As a journalist, my job is to cover stories, whether it’s ceremonies, luncheons or, more recently, keeping up with the changes that have come because of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. All the while, it’s also my job to remain objective and invisible, so it’s not often that I get to experience the adventure for myself once, let alone twice, and along the way I learned about the river’s history, the unique perspective it offers of Fort Leavenworth and myself.

Fort Leavenworth Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass and his friend, Terry Trafton, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., approach Centennial Bridge and their exit point after rowing about 10 miles of the Missouri River Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


On June 23 and Aug. 8, myself and the Lamp photographer Prudence Siebert, along with retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, chief of Army University Press’ Military History Instruction Team, joined Neil Bass, DPW natural resources specialist, for a 10-mile, two-and-a-half-hour excursion down the Missouri River from Kickapoo to the Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth — a trip that could be replicated by anyone with the desire, ability and resources.


“The Missouri River is probably the most under-utilized recreational river in this part of the country,” Bass said.


According to the National Park Service, the public can use appropriate watercrafts, such as canoes, kayaks or boats, to explore the Missouri River, all the while experiencing a piece of history.

Lamp reporter Katie Peterson and Army University Press historian Gary Linhart paddle their canoe within view of the Grant Hall clock tower while floating about 10 miles of the Missouri River Aug. 8 near Fort Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Exploring the river by canoe or kayak is a great way to see … what Lewis and Clark may have experienced during their 1804 and 1806 travels,” the official NPS site says.

Lamp reporter Katie Peterson and Army University Press historian Gary Linhart paddle their canoe within view of the Grant Hall clock tower while floating about 10 miles of the Missouri River Aug. 8 near Fort Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


It’s also an opportunity to see Fort Leavenworth from a whole new perspective because, during both our trips, the birds flying low, the cool breeze, the fullness of the trees and the clear blue sky were made even more picturesque when we got a glimpse of the Combined Arms Center Headquarters clock tower in the distance as we came around a bend.


As we paddled the canoe and came within closer and closer view, I got a unique look at this post landmark that I see daily as I drive through Grant Gate. But, with the tree coverage hiding the rest of post, the unique visual of the clock tower “standing alone” in the center of nature became one I won’t soon forget.


Finally, canoeing the historic river gave me a chance to test my own skills and perseverance.
I’ve only ever canoed twice before, once around Smith Lake on post and once at Table Rock Lake in Missouri. This was an entirely different experience.


While Siebert and Bass — along with Graceland University senior Emma Cleland-Leighton, DPW natural resources intern, on June 23 and Terry Trafton, a friend of Bass, on Aug. 8 — traveled by jon boat, Linhart and I were in the canoe.

This bald eagle was one of three spotted during a 10-mile boat trip on the Missouri River Aug. 8 near Fort Leavenworth. Trip participants also saw a pelican and a few herons. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Having more canoeing experience, Linhart steered from the rear, while instructing me on how and when to paddle. It got dicey at times when we got sucked into a current or two and, in the case of the second trip, we fought against strong winds that made us turn in a circle, but with teamwork we were quickly able to maneuver ourselves out to where we were peacefully floating along again.

Retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, chief of Army University Press’s Military History Instruction Support Team, and Katie Peterson, Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter, paddle along the Missouri River during an approximately 10-mile trip Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Now that my feet are wet, and I feel more comfortable, maybe next time we’ll have to try that nearly eight-hour, 25-mile excursion from Atchison.


Certain licenses and permits are required for various river activities and may vary depending on the location. There are also rules and regulations for public launch sites. For more information, visit https://ksoutdoors .com/KDWPT-Info/Locations /Rivers-and-Streams-Access.

Retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, chief of Army University Press’s Military History Instruction Support Team, and Katie Peterson, Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter, launch into the Missouri River from a private entry point in Leavenworth County Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Outdoor Recreation Equipment Rental, 911 McClellan Ave., has various types of boats available. For more information, call 684-3395.

Retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, chief of Army University Press’s Military History Instruction Support Team, and Katie Peterson, Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter, use their paddles to turn their canoe as the wind and currents try to dominate the boat during a 10-mile trip on the Missouri River Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, chief of Army University Press’s Military History Instruction Support Team, and Katie Peterson, Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter, approach Centennial Bridge and their exit point after paddling their canoe along about 10 miles of the Missouri River Aug. 8 by Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Fort Leavenworth Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass mans the oars of his jon boat as he and his friend Terry Trafton, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., explore the Missouri River Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Fort Leavenworth Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass mans the oars of his jon boat as he and his friend Terry Trafton, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., explore the Missouri River Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Fort Leavenworth Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass mans the oars of his jon boat as he and his friend Terry Trafton, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., explore the Missouri River just behind retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart and Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter Katie Peterson in a canoe Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Fort Leavenworth Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass mans the oars of his jon boat as he and his friend Terry Trafton, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., explore the Missouri River with retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart and Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter Katie Peterson Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart helps Neil Bass, natural resources specialist, bring his jon boat out of the Missouri River after passing under Centennial Bridge Aug. 8. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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