It was time for my boyfriend’s annual workplace float trip on the Big Piney River, and I was his plus one for the second year in a row. On a Sunday morning, we packed up our tent, sleeping bag, snacks, and the cooler filled with cold pizza and Logboat beer, and hit the road. We were heading out to Duke, Missouri, where we were camping at Peck’s Last Resort—formerly known as Rich’s Last Resort.

The campground is about two and a half hours away from Columbia. You can find it on a GPS, but if you’re planning to head out there, I suggest writing down the directions since you lose service when you have about twenty minutes left of travel. And that’s where the directions can get a little confusing if you’re not a local—or if you’re, like me, just perpetually awful at directions.

We had a three-day trip planned Sunday through Tuesday with canoeing on our agenda the second day. You can rent a one-person kayak, a two-person canoe, or a large raft. We opted for the canoe this year considering the people on the rafts usually take an extra three or so hours to make it back to the campground.

The forecast called for spotty rain, but because of my (often times misleading) optimism I was so sure that Mother Nature wouldn’t rain on our parade. She did. And we didn’t pack a single waterproof item.

Rain didn’t stop this soccer game. Photo by Jesse Epple.

Luckily for us, a couple of friends provided us with some extra ponchos. The first day was a bit cloudy but dry. However, when we woke up Monday morning hoping for sunshine we were met with pellets of rain hitting our tent with no sunshine in sight. We ate breakfast and waited for it to pass. No thunder or lightning was in the forecast, so we collectively decided to float either way.

The rain paused around 1 pm, so we loaded up in the back of the pickup that was transporting us to the beginning of the float and started our journey on the river. For the first few hours, the rain held off as we enjoyed floating and our frequent stops at the sandbars where we played Frisbee and some brave souls swam in the frigid water. The sun even peeked out a time or two.

Rain or not, the journey on the Big Piney is as beautiful as it is blissful. Trees and greenery surround you along with picturesque bluffs. You can make the float as long or as short as you want by stopping along the way or paddling the entire time.

Toward the end of our float, it started misting on us, but it was just the right amount to cool us down. Plus, the ponchos kept us mostly dry. We paddled in the light rain back to our campsites where we enjoyed our last night sleeping by the river.

The next morning, we were packing up our wet belongings to go home when I found an umbrella underneath the back seat. Ah, that would have came in handy.