Updated: Feb 11
Day 7 of my 2021 attempt to walk across Iowa in the footsteps of the Iowa Dragoons of 1835 proved a relatively uneventful day. During the planning process, I knew I would depart Eddyville on the southern bank of the river and slowly wind my way up the Eveland Access Campground. Crossing the river at Eveland, I planned to proceed up the north bank as far as possible in order to limit the mileage necessary heading into the final day of Part 1.
At the Hard Fish Canoe Access near Eddyville, I started the day flying the drone to capture some quick shots of the Des Moines. As soon as I had the drone airborne, a cacophony of barking began to eminate from the trees to the north of the canoe access. I landed the drone just in time to see a dog break through the underbrush near the river and as he bee-lined for me, I bee-lined for the car. While fumbling with the door, I noticed two other dogs quickly approaching from the road, and I hopped in the car just before we were surrounded by a pack of K-9s. Unsure what to do, I asked Marissa what she thought. With the dogs clearly coming from a trailer to the north along the river, directly where I planned to start for the day, we decided to drive down the road a section to avoid the dogs. We slowly began to accelerate out of the canoe access and on to the road as the dogs nipped at the tires of the RAV4 like the heels of sheep. Slowly and cautiously we continued to pick up speed, first 5, then 10, then 15, then 20 miles per hour. The dogs dropped off one by one until the clear Alpha, until only the shaggy white-dog leader kept pace immediately next to the passenger door. My desire to get away mixed with my desire to avoid hitting someone's dog (no matter how unfriendly), as I slowly continued to try and put distance between our location and the dog's home. Eventually the dog retreated, and we moved down about a half-mile to ensure safety.
Finally able to get a start on the day, I ambled down the road. Reviewing the route in my mind, I knew no towns or villages marked the day's route. Just wide open Iowa skies, row crops slowly growing, and the meandering Des Moines River. As I made my way down a series of gravel roads stair-stepping along the river, I passed an eerily quiet morning. Storms threatened in all directions, yet I stay dry stride after stride.
Along the roadside, a wild rose caught my eye. The Iowa Legislature designated the Wild Prairie Rose, or Rosa Pratincola, the official state flower in 1897. The reasoning, at least officially, related to the depiction of the flower chosen for the silver service the legislature also presented to the USS Iowa battleship during the same year.
Continuing on, I soon approached a fenced cemetery on the east side of the road. The Crain Cemetery, founded by Jacob Crain in 1861 when he "deeded to the dead" the 1 1/2 acre site for "religious and burial purposes." The remains of thirty people rests within the cemetery's fences today, including two soldiers who served the Union during the American Civil War. The West Des Moines Township (Mahaska County) Livewires 4H Club currently maintains the site.
I approached a large farm spanning both sides of the road, and a large cattle-pen on one side held many bovines interested in my progress. Many trotted out from the enclosure as I started down the road, however, as I neared they quickly decided to stampeded back under the overhang. Dozens of sets of eyes peered out from between railings as I made my way past, and immediately after I reached a safe distance my four-hoofed friends came piling back out to observe my departure.
Eventually, I arrived at Eveland Access Campground, a 23-acre multi-use recreation area featuring a 43 site campground. I flew the drone to capture some footage before pressing on across the Des Moines for the final time on Part 1 (I will not cross the river again until I reach downtown Des Moines, Iowa, during Part 2). The uneventful stroll down the north bank brought me closer to the close of Part 1 with each step, and I contemplated how just a few short hours of walking would bring me to the Horn's Ferry Bridge below the Red Rock Dam.
When I eventually reached a logical stopping point near where Highway 92 crossed the river, I decided to call it a day. Meeting back up with Marissa, we ventured north toward Oskaloosa in order to encounter Dragoon Trail Historical Site Marker No. 5, a monument erected in 1940 by the Oskaloosa Chapter Iowa Daughters of the American Revolution.