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.
Metamorphosing from an average camper into a true outdoorsman