Over Father's Day weekend, my dad and I completed a 28 mile run down the fox river. As the same with other trips, we started in Yorkville, camped around Sheridan, and ended in Wedron. The weather held up for the weekend, and it was a nice paddle. I'm going to chart out where we started, ended, and camped.
This weekend, I went on a kayak trip down the full length of the DuPage river. I started at Weigand Park in Naperville, and ended at Channahon state park in Shorewood. 28 Miles. Along the way, I passed through the rapids south of Hammel Woods. The gauge at Hammel was reading at about 3ft at the time, average.
I took two videos from my time on the river in the rapids area. Enjoy!
Over Easter weekend, I went on a solo kayak camping trip down the Fox River in Illinois. I took a 28 mile trip from Yorkville to Wedron. 0 portages and lots of scenic camping. I did 18 miles of paddling day 1, and 10 on day 2. Overall, I paddled for about 8 hours.
I put in at Yorkville, just past the dam. There is a boat launch west of IL-47. I had my wife pick me up at C&M canoe rental. I found a campsite at an island nearby the Sheridan juvenile center.
I got some great videos from the dells area. Enjoy!
This past weekend, I went to the Wisconsin Dells. There's a solid 42 mile trip from Castle Rock Dam to Portage WI. There is just one portage, a long one in the middle in downtown WI dells. The plan is to paddle 10-14 miles on day one, and find camping somewhere in the islands. Day 2 takes you through a lake, portage, and then back into the lower dells area. Day 3 is all river, taking you out to the end.
I did this trip with group of 5 others. 3 had never kayak camped before. 2 had gone on a few trips, to say the least. In mid October, highs were in the upper 50s, and lows in the low 40s. Not too cold, and not a lot of bugs.
Day 1 was windy. We made it about 12 miles. We started around noon with a car swap. We left all boats and gear at start, drove to end, then hired a taxi to take us back to the start. Little back and forth, but saved us travel at the end.
The wind was constantly in our face all day, making it a bit of a struggle. We hit the 7 mile bridge around 3:30, a bit behind pace. Fortunately from there, the current picked up and things got moving. We passed through the canyon around the 10 mile marker and had no issues despite choppy wind.
Day 2 was a mixed bag. The water was calm in the morning, leading to a smooth paddle through the open lake area and then through the narrows and into the dells. We took our time going through the scenic dells, so hit the portage right at noon. We'd get back into the water around 2pm, after lunch and portage.
The portage takes forever, as you go uphill, through a big parking lot area around a power plant, then back down a hill. I'm happy to report that they've widened the last part going downhill, so it was much easier to traverse. There are clear maps marking the route, and signs along the way.
The second half of day 2 it began to rain and mist. This would last from 2-8pm, and eventually got us all wet and cold. We'd find a decent beach somewhere in the pine islands, around the 32 mile marker. Once the rain cut off, we were able to start up a fire and have some dinner.
Day 3 was very straightforward. We paddled 10 miles through the wider portion of the river. Eventually you see a bridge, as you get into portage. That's roughly the 3 miles to go marker. You scoot under two bridges, then go to the takeout on the left.
Overall, it was a great trip. Nothing too crazy compared to previous trips. In October, there wasn't much speedboat traffic to contend with. The elements were a challenge, but nothing we couldn't overcome. The Wisconsin river can be a big challenge, but overall goes pretty smooth with its many islands and sandbars.
This past Saturday, I got out on the DuPage river during a near flood. I went from Wiegand park in Naperville to Rivertowne Parkway in Plainfield, about a 15.3 mile journey. Nearby river gauges indicated a near flood scenario, as the water levels were just below flood stage after a few days of heavier rain.
I cruised. It took about 3 hours total, we me breaking for an on river lunch. I paddled hard for half of it, then eased up for part of it as well. 5 MPH rate.
Gauge height readings were as follows:
-Shorewood was at about 5.5 feet (flood stage being 6.5)
-Plainfield was at 10 feet (action stage is 10', minor flood 12)
The river was definitely spilling its banks at points. There were few floating obstacles. If anything, the higher level made it easier to dodge boulders. While the shorelines were consistently at or below the river's water level, the DuPage never felt out of control, or unsafe. It was a fun quick paddle. Not for amateurs.
In late summer, I made two trips down the DuPage River, specifically the rapids section. Spanning from Hammel Woods to Channahon State Park, it is a 10 mile stretch with many twists and turns, and rapids. The height was pretty low, measured at 2.5-3 feet both times at the shorewood USGS gauge
Here's another video of the rapid section in full.
For Labor Day weekend, my wife and I took a canoe 36 miles down the Fox river, from Yorkville to Ottawa, Illinois. It's a clear river trip, past silver springs state park, shuh shuh canoe launch, Sheridan, Fox River Dells and portage through the Dayton dam area.
This section is obviously very scenic. There are day trips you can take through the different areas, but the entire stretch is possible. Official campsites are non-existent, but there are a few islands and sandbars you can go on.
The water level was lower than I've seen personally in my handful of trips. Dayton's USGS gauge reading was at about 6.5 feet. Flow was at 1500, up from the average of 700 CFPS. Not sure I believe the averages, but the readings are what they are. There were plenty of rocks and boulders I've not quite seen on other trips, and I've gone in a dry October before.
Here are some shots of the portage. You get out at river left and drag along the shore bank. Then up a slight hill, and up over the dam. Then down a steep hill and back over some rocks to get back into the river. It takes about an hour, if you have 6 bags and a canoe like we did. There are signs clearly marking it, so it is easy to pass through.
Here is where we camped. Bit closer to jail than I'd prefer, but it worked. It was a nice sandbar with some tree coverage. Heavy on spiders, but not much in terms of mosquitoes.
There is a wonderful 19 mile trip through the heart of the Fox River dells. Launching from Shuh Shuh canoe launch, you can go 19 miles through Sheridan, and then end in the dells area at Ayer's landing.
Overall paddle time varies depending on river current. We did it in 5 hours on this day, with the aid of a strong current and no headwind.
Ayer's landing is $5 per boat. They offer secure parking, a snack shack, and a great beach to launch from.
The dells are truly a spectacular part of the Fox river. They aren't quite the Wisconsin dells, but there is nothing like them in the Chicago area.
This memorial day weekend, my wife and I attempted a 40 mile trip down the Kishwaukee and Rock rivers, from Belvidere to Oregon Illinois. It'd be a 3 day 2 night trip which I've done previously.
We fell short.
The Kishwaukee was moving, but not exceptionally fast. Water height was at 5 feet (2 more than average), and a KCFS around 2.4. It was right at action stage, 3 feet below flood. Unfortunately, after so much deadfall and so many floods from the last 2 years, it's nearly impassable at points. At that level, it basically became a whitewater course, trying to avoid trees.
After my wife flipped twice, and me getting caught in a current and splashing over, we made the call to end it. We were behind schedule, and had gear beginning to get soaked. Baumann park is right at the edge of civilization, so it was a point of no return. By blackhawk park there were a few more sharp turns, and if that would be as bad as the first stretch, we would have been in trouble.
So we played it safe. A bit unsatisfactory, but safety first.
Today I completed my first race: the Des Plaines river canoe and kayak marathon. It is 18.5 miles from Oak Spring Road to Euclid road. I completed it in 3:45, just under 5 MPH. It was good enough for 24/94 for my men's rec 14 or less kayak division.
The first 10-12 miles was fun: decent current and tons of eddies I could pick up to keep moving. I was paddling hard and scooting along, but never to the point where I burnt out. The river has lots of twists and runs through heavier forest, so it's scenic and fun.
Around mile marker 12/Lake Cook road, the river widens, and the current slows. This day, there was a major headwind, which really slowed me down. There are sections of the river that are wide open and have little coverage, so the wind can unimpededly blast you there. I was already starting to tire, and this wind really hurt. I had to paddle harder than the first 12, but to go slower than before. Factor in some soreness and I burnt out quickly.
The last 6 miles or so took a lot longer than the first 2/3rd. My strength waned, but eventually my arms went numb and I just pressed on with some divine support. I was thrilled to finish under 4 hours. The best paddlers and boats can do it in close to 2. It requires a thin cigarette style boat that can slide right through the water. The winners from my recreational kayak division made the run in about 3 hours.
I did grab video from the first 2 hours of the race. My gopro eventually ran out of battery, but this should be the first 10 miles or so. It formatted into 4 videos:
The Kayak Maniac