Illinois River – January 10/11, 2009
With weather looking good (for January) and flows good-to-go, four of us found ourselves leaving Portland around 7 PM on Friday, January 9th, 2009. Bound for the Illinois, we thought that we could get to the put-in that night, rig, and push off for a camp just downstream under the nearly-full moon. Unfortunately, Tomas’s truck has a temperature gage. When we hit Grants Pass we noticed that it was 32 degrees F. In Selma it had fallen to 28. No matter how hard we tried to convince ourselves that we really wanted to freeze our butts off, the decision was easy to stay the night in the heated Rogue River Journeys guide house. So we did.
The next morning we headed to Miami Bar, rigged, and launched sometime around 10:30. We dabbled in the sun, stayed warm, and made camp at South Bend around 4:00. After screwing around with a fire, we decided that Duraflame truly does kick-ass and that Dex phone books make good paper to burn (our apologies to the Henrys, Ingrims, Jacksons, Klunky, and Livingston families for burning your phone numbers. We will just have to guess next time we want to call.). The night sky was absolutely amazing with a fierce moon, wavy clouds, and a rolling fog.
The morning brought us some cold temps, so we jet boiled coffee from within the tents and waited for it to warm. And waited. And waited some more. We ended up leaving camp at the crack of noon and proceded to Prelude, where both boats went right. At Green Wall we ran the entry rapid and caught an eddy on the left. We scouted the entire rapid, hiking down to the lower drop to check out the hole at the bottom. It looked pretty big with a tight line on the left, but that will happen sometimes, and there didn’t seem much else left to do besides run the rapid. I suggested that we run “1-2-3” and not set safety at the bottom, just stay tight. Chip vetoed that by reminding me that it simply wasn’t possible, we had to run “1-2” because we only had two boats. That seemed ok so we headed back up, Kathy and Dana jumped in, and we were on our way.
The left slot of the top drop was pretty bony. Chip and Kathy dropped in first and got wedged pretty well. Dana and I were right behind them and hung out in the eddy not more than five feet from their boat. When they got unstuck we followed suit and got stuck. They exited the rapid as we pushed off and it wasn’t long until we joined them at the bottom. The sun broke free of the canyon wall and shone against the river-right side of Green Wall. Green Wall is a really pretty rapid, especially when you are at the bottom looking up.
Everything went pretty well from there down. Little Green Wall and everything through Submarine was a blast as always. We reached Oak Flat at 5 PM and loaded up the truck. Got back to Portland around 1:30 AM. Another great Illinois trip, can’t wait to get back.