Illinois River – January 18-19, 2008

This trip report was written by John Meier.


Dave Hagmeier, Philip (my son) and I launched on the Illinois at 1330 Friday 1-18-08 Blue skies and good times down to Klondike Creek for a nippy, no campfire camp. I have no idea what the temperature was but by the time we crawled into the tents around 2000 any water droplets still on the boats had frozen solid.

This is the first time I’ve checked my boat in the morning to find it covered with frost, ice and a little soft due to the cold. Once we put them back in the water they warmed up and expanded back up to pressure. Dave heated some hot water in the morning so I could have a mug of tea. I passed on the tea and put the hot water in my frozen solid river boots. Ahhhhh…..there’s nothing like the smell of steaming river boots in the morning. Oregon river camping in January at it’s finest.

The Green Wall………Yep, it’s still there but according to Dave the “Illinois King” the hole at the bottom has changed. At 1400cfs the hole was deeper, meaner. and a lot nastier than he’s ever seen it. In my book that’s saying a lot since he let it slip to Philip that this run was probably his 40th trip down. Dave ran it first and powered through the hole with a right to left move. I ran it second but wasn’t quite as graceful as Dave. I almost made it out the downriver side of the hole but it grabbed me and sucked me back in. It was the sweetest and deepest auto surf I’ve ever experienced. When I hit the bottom it spun me sideways and spit me back out right into the protruding edge at the bottom of the Green wall. I gracefully fell back into the boat after bouncing on the left tube and eddied out.

Philip ran it next. He had a flawless run through the technical left line at the top. When he hit the hole at the bottom it jerked his right oar out of his hand and spit him sideways into the wall where he promptly did a right tube over the left, side flip. Using the skills he acquired when he earned the nickname Flip back in his IK days he quickly swam back to his upside down cat, got it into an eddy with a little help from Dave and got it re-flipped. No carnage, no yardsale items floating, just a quick flip, swim, re-flip, a few laughs and we were back on the river.

A word to the wise. If you run the Illinois you may want to hike down a little past the normal scout rock and check out the hole at the bottom. I took a picture of Philip as he was lining up for his flip. He was at the bottom of the hole and all you can see in the picture of him and his 12.5′ X 22.5″ Sotar cat is the very tip of his black helmet. No kidding, he is completely gone in the picture except for the top of his helmet. The hole
completely swallowed him, cat and all.

The weather was excellent. Blue skies and no wind. The temps could have been a little higher but I’m not complaining. Two out of three ain’t bad for January boating.

Good times were had by all.

John Meier
Washougal, Wa

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