It appears as if my final boat trip of the season hit the books 2 weeks ago. So sad. I went on a short trip to the Illinois river with friends. Simple 1 mile trip to get out in the woods. We started at Stratton state park in Morris, headed downstream about a mile to a barge parking area, and setup camp in the woods. Nothing overly complicated, as we were just looking to spend a night in the woods. The next day, we paddled back upstream and were done.
The wind was gusting west to east, making the trip out very difficult. It was pushing so hard, that there were cresting waves. My 15 foot canoe took on some water. It took us over an hour to travel that one mile distance. Granted we had all our overweighted gear on us, but it was quite intense. The Illinois has seemingly no current, and is open enough to where there isn't much shielding from the wind. It affects your paddling much more than any other river I've been on. Honestly, it can be as bad as a wide open lake. When you have a tailwind, it is great, but a wind pushing you backwards will slow a normal 3 MPH pace to a crawl.
Camping out here was excellent. We heard plenty of coyotes as soon as it got dark out, but were undisturbed the whole night. While it got cold, we were able to keep warm by a fire, and had a really solid night. At the edge of civilization in Morris, it's easy to feel like you are in the deep woods. These short trips are good for a quick one night trip, out and back.
Last weekend, a friend and I completed a 30 miles stretch spanning to the end of the dupage river. We started at Weigand Riverfront park in naperville, and exited at 4 Rivers in Channahon. We ran 18 miles on day one, camped at Hammel Woods, then pressed 12 more miles the next day. While the river level was a bit low, we were able to pass through in our kayaks just fine.
It was a nice autumn trip, with the trees vibrant colors. The water was a bit cold, but tolerable for short bursts for getting in and out. While we were late to our campsite, and initially missed it because it was dark, we did find a nice clearing in hammel woods where we were not bothered the entire night.
It rained a lot before the trip, and the water actually rose about 6 inches from Saturday night to Sunday morning. The higher level made paddling easier, increased the current, and kept us from scraping as much day 2. It was nice to have the easier travel, because we did have two portages that day.
The increased level also made the shorewood rapids stronger. Nothing dangerous, just fast flowing water. That is my favorite part of the river.
I called the dupage forest preserve and obtained permission to leave a car in their locked lot over the weekend. This was at the 4 rivers location, right at the end of the river. They were nice and just needed some basic info, but my car was safe and secure when we were leaving.
Overall: solid trip. The weather held up pretty well, and there were no overwhelming challenges to overcome.
The Kayak Maniac