We started at Bird Park in Kankakee, and ended at Stratton State Park in Morris. We drove our gear to the starting point, dropped it all off (leaving one guy there to load boats/watch over). Then me and a friend took our two cars to the endpoint, and we parked in a lot just south of the Morris post office. We then got a ride back to the start, courtesy of craigslist. From there we left on our trip, with the cars waiting at the end.
Morris has an "enforce on complaint" 48 hour parking law. Fortunately, our cars were fine, despite being parked there for closer to 52 hours. The lot we left them in had no marked restrictions either. No car damage, no tickets, what a relief!
For the night, we settled on an island/peninsula on lakewood shores. We had a couple of swans keep us company. While storms did hit northern IL that night, we got lucky, as the line broke in half, giving us severe weather north and south of us, but we only had an hours worth of steady rain. We camped on a beach, and had a fine night.
The first half of the day was great. We shot into Wilmington on the current. The portage there isn't great, but a friendly local wit a truck saw us and helped us. Essentially there is a large dam to the river's left that is impassable. If you go right, there is a channel that leads to a second dam. Before you hit dam #2, you get out, move everything across a parking lot, and then drop right back in. The lot is paved, making things a bit easier.
Once you get past the dam, the current starts to slow, going from a riffly 4 to 2 mph. There are sections where it picks back up. After Rt.55, the river widens, even wider than the Illinois. There are houses lining the riverfront with boat docks, which means... POWER BOATS.
Now, I understand we went over a holiday weekend, and so I'm not going to rant and rave at the stupidity of drunk boat owners. But as we rounded that bend, there were 20+ speedboats and jetskis waiting for us. It was complete chaos for the next 4 miles, as we clung to shore, taking wake from every which direction. I wish I had gotten photos or videos, but it was too crazy to focus on anything besides staying afloat. Over the course of those few hours, we saw at least 80 + powered boats and skis, all going whichever direction they wanted. Not fun.
Eventually, we entered into the Illinois river, and the boats became less frequent. We found a decent smaller campsite nearby the Dresden Dam, on the south side of the river. We held up for the night just fine, passing out early after an exhausting day. After a 15 mile day, we just had about 8 miles and a portage to go.
From there, we battled a few speedboats as we moved back into Morris. No current on the Illinois, but with paddling at a decent clip, we got it done in under 4 hours. The stretch from Dresden to Morris is full of trees and campable beaches. Nothing too scenic, but lots of calm water.