I started on the eastern branch of the dupage river in Lisle. Continued on to the merge in Naperville. Made camp by downtown plainfield. Continued through hammel wood's dam. Met up with some friends on a canoe for a half day, then portaged over the channohon dam. Found a campsite along the edge of the Des Plaines river. Portaged over the dresden dam, alone. Continued on the Illinois river. Got swamped by a couple of speedboats.
So 52 miles of decent current
-3 portages (2 simple, one long)
-broken kayak handles in the middle of these portages
-clouds of mosquitoes
-swamped by speedboats multiple times
It was good, but very very exhaustive.
Eventually I turned the corner by Whalon Lake, and ran into the beaver dam. Because of a recent flood, there were a few logjams to pass through, but portaging around beaver dams is tough. The river wall is high, and the grass is tall. Go figure the sun's heat would loosen up my handles enough for them to pop out.
Once I passed though, the rest of the day was fine. I found a spot to camp just north of plainfield, and it worked out just fine. No disturbances, no animals. I was able to make camp early, and get plenty of rest for an anticipated longer day 2.
The best stretch is from hammel woods (past the dam) to Channahon state park. Once you get out of the neighborhoods, it's very scenic. There are a few rapids once you pass through shorewood. Eventually the river opens up into a lake, with two exit channels (left is my favorite).
Eventually, you hit Channahon state park, and another dam/quick portage. From here, the Dupage continues on another mile before joining the Des Plaines. I hugged the river's right/north, and passed through a shallow seaweed field. At this point, it was getting dark, and I got stuck without a campsite. I continued on in the dark, and eventually found some low ground by Mckinley woods. It was dark, and I didn't have a choice, so I setup camp.
This campsite was infested with mosquitoes, as in a constant cloud. I would escape into my tent, and pass out from exhaustion. The next day, I considered moving everything to the channel, but after seeing no current/heavy algae, I decided to continue on the Illinois river
I tried passing through the lock, but there was nobody on site seemingly. I hung out for a few, but didn't see anything, so I portaged around the outside. It took an hour and a half of grueling work, but... I made it! The portage is on river left, the south side.
From here, it was about 8/9 miles to the end. but of course, it was labor day, and all the idiot powerboaters were out. I would get swamped 3 times. Once by a powerboat towing tubes who thought it was ok to circle around within 50 feet of me, once by a jetski who thought it was ok to pass me by 30 feet going full speed, and a second time by the same jetski, doing the same thing.
If you are in a powerboat, avoid the smaller craft when they are firmly up against the side of the river. It's a wide river, and there is no reason whatsoever to not share.
Overall, tough trip. Rewarding, and I hit my goal of 300 miles. By the time I hit the end, I was so tired I didn't care. That's saying a lot for me. Normally, I'm getting tired after a long trip, and am looking forward to the end, but couldn't wait to get out of the water after this trip. It was harder than the Wisconsin Dells trip from this past spring. I'm glad I did it though, because I was able to push my limits a bit farther than I thought I could.