Tag Archives: Illinois River

West Fork of the Illinois – March 20, 2010

Since there is no gauge for the West Fork the best thing to go off of is the Illinois gauge in Kerby.


Ever since I moved to Selma I’ve been wanting to get on some of the upper stretches and tributaries to the Illinois River. In January I got to run Josephine Creek, which was a lot of fun but not a whole lot of whitewater. There’s gotta be something somewhere up in the drainage where there’s great whitewater. Was the West Fork of the Illinois the gem I was looking for? No, but it was still fun exploring a new run.

We left our house around noon. We grabbed the little 10′ Avon and drove to the bridge over the West Fork on Waldo Road. There we left a car and continued with my truck to the put-in. We didn’t really know where the put-in would be, but we knew which road to take. When we entered Obrien we took a right on Lone Mountain Road and continued up the road a few miles. Eventually we found a place where the road was right next to the river so that’s where we put in. We did drive up a little further but it seemed that the road was straying from the river.

Due to the extremely low flows during the summer there is quite a bit of brush that grows in the river bed. This was a constant battle for us. We had to get out of the boat and “portage” three times. More times than not we could pick out a line over the smaller bushes and the boat would just knock them over. Nevertheless, the river canyon was beautiful and the rapids, although only class II, were still kind of fun. At least there was current!

We arrived at the bridge take-out around 2:45. On river-left just upstream of the bridge there is a little steep trail to the road. We used that to carry our stuff up to our vehicles.

Would I do the West Fork again? Probably not. But I’m sure glad I don’t have to wonder about it anymore!





Illinois River – March 13/14, 2010


Will’s 24th birthday – He’s still a year younger than me, but who’s counting?

People started dropping like flies on Thursday afternoon, but several of us stuck it out. Will and I had been watching the snow fall all day on Thursday and the projected flows told us it would be well above 6000 cfs. Will knew it was wrong but we kept watching the copious amounts of moisture with a bit of skepticism. Friday evening we knew we were golden – the flows were around 3000 cfs and falling.

Ryan Guy, having just started his spring break, met us at the Selma house on Friday evening. In the morning we met up with our other gung-ho boating comrades, J.R. Weir and Jonathan Hyland. I have to admit the sunny drive in the morning was incredibly beautiful but a little nerve racking – there was a lot of snow on the road. I wasn’t too excited about a potential “high water” trip, but Will assured me the snow would stay put and the flows would be fine.

We put-in around 11:30 am as the sun gods shined proudly on the birthday boy. It was definitely Will’s day on his favorite river. After an amazing day of floating the green water of the Illinois, we arrived at South Bend around 4:30 pm and decided to call it a day. The night was complete with a more than sufficient supply of spaghetti, beer, Patron and tomato juice, Jaeger and Franzia’s Sunset Blush bagged wine. It was a relaxing and enjoyable evening of some of the best story telling and hooting I’ve been around in a long time.

The next morning everyone woke up with the thought of the impending GREEN WALL. After a filling breakfast, we hit the water and made it to Prelude around 10:30 am. We decided to scout above the entry rapid. We walked down, scouted and Will and Ryan headed back to the boats. I set-up our video camera on a rock, slung our digital camera around my neck and waited for the guys to come downstream. Will entered far left due to the fact that the center was a massive river-wide hole. It was definitely not a place you’d want to be… But after some strong pulling and maneuvering he made it out clear and clean. It was a great run. The bottom hole (also known as Harvey) wasn’t too prominent, which made the run a bit easier. Ryan and Bigwater Betty, the creepy mannequin head, had a similar run and came out looking like professionals. Of course it was a piece of cake for both J.R. and Jon.

After Green Wall we navigated some of the lower rapids while we admired the many waterfalls, runoffs and creeks surrounding us. It was absolutely beautiful. Will made sure to stop at his favorite “Waterfall Camp” and was blessed by the river gods in discovering his bottle of stashed Jaeger was still in camp. We basked in the sun and told stories.

As we made our way further downriver, we decided it was time for lunch. Instead of eating at the waterfall camp or pulling over, we took customized sandwich orders, compiled glorious piles of meat, cheese, veggies and bread and ate while we floated. I think some of the most hilarious moments of the trip were watching J.R. and Jon eat while they kayaked. It’s a little easier for rafters to eat while floating, but kayakers…that’s a whole other story. However, it definitely wasn’t difficult for them to take swags off the good ol’ bag of Sunset Blush. Thank god for bagged wine…

We made it to Oak Flat around 4:00 pm, enjoyed some more Sunset Blush, packed up and headed back home. It was really one of my favorite trips down the Illinois. We had perfect flows, perfect weather and a spectacular group of people. Thanks to Barefoot Brad and Jamie for a great shuttle experience. And to Ryan, J.R. and Jon for making the trek to Southern Oregon to enjoy one of the most beautiful rivers in the Northwest with us.













Illinois River – February 20-21, 2010

Trip Report by Will Volpert. Flow peaked somewhere around 1350 CFS.


On Friday evening we drove in to Miami Bar. Zach (Northwest Rafting Company), Pete (Momentum River Expeditions) and Dan didn’t get in until 2 AM. The rest of us were already asleep at the new camping area near Miami. We had Mr. Moody’s entourage from Idaho: Makael and Mike. From Washington we had Morgan, John, and Mike B. Then there was Dana and me, Kelly from Portland, and John B from Eureka.

We awoke to what seemed like the perfect day on the Illinois. The sun broke free as we rigged our boats and then we were on the water. After an uneventful morning we stopped at Pine Flat right for lunch. Our original plan was to get down to the waterfall camp for the night, but upon reaching South Bend we were happy to call it home. An upstream wind had picked up and it had been a long day in the sun. It felt like it was around 5:00 but after checking a watch it was only 3:00. Dana started showing the guys from Washington how to drink Fireball Whiskey. That didn’t last too long though…

The next morning we got on the water, ran Prelude, and then some of us caught the scout eddy immediately above Green Wall while the rest hiked down from the top of the entry rapid. The hole at the bottom looked meaty. Pete, John M, and I ran through first. At the bottom of Green Wall we got to watch John M. dance around in the hole at the bottom before the cat flipped up and over. Next up was Dan and he had a great line. John B came down after him and ended up center at the bottom. His boat looked like it was going to flip, spit him out, and then proceeded to surf for 20 minutes. Pete and I hung out in the eddy as most everyone else tried to get a rope to the boat. Eventually it popped out on its own, we got it to shore, and Mike B and Morgan came down in their cats.

Got to take out around 3:00. Overall just an incredible trip. Thanks everyone for coming! Hope to boat with you all again soon.











Illinois River – February 6/7, 2010


Trip participants:
Hans Hoomans
George White
John Meier
Ryan Guy
Will Volpert
Dan Thurber
Jonathan Absher
Tyler Averyt

Everyone arrived in Selma the night before the trip. John introduced some of us to Fireball Whiskey and we didn’t hit the hay until about 1 AM. With a more-than slight headache we awoke the next morning and tried to load as quickly as possible. The game plan was to get below Green Wall, which is roughly 18 miles downstream of Miami Bar. Tyler arrived at 8 AM with his big truck and trailer and soon we were on the road headed to Miami Bar. Pushed off from Miami Bar a little after 10 AM.

Water level was great. The rapid section after Panther Creek was awesome with some big waves. Scenery was good as usual and weather was surprising warm and just barely drizzly. We ate lunch at Pine Flat. Pine Flat to South Bend really flies by. Surprisingly, about three miles above South Bend on river right we came across a herd of elk. Once they spotted us they scrambled up the hillside. I would never expect to see elk at the river on the Illinois – this river is full of surprises.

At South Bend we did a sand drawing of what Green Wall would look like, where the eddy was, etc. There were a few folks who had not been down before. Dan and Jonathan in their kayaks ran the entry rapid first and caught the eddy, followed by John and me. Next up was Hans and George, who were R2ing, and Ryan who was rowing an Avon Adventurer. In the entry rapid, Ryan’s oar got locked in the oar lock and he struggled to get it back in. He went screaming by the eddy so Tyler and I gave chase. We watched Ryan’s boat drop over the ledge hole sideways and I thought it was game over but somehow the boat flushed through upright. We snuck way left and then cut back right, not far enough though and got dropped into some manky stuff in the center but popped out unscathed and found ourselves in the bottom eddy with Ryan.

John ran through next and had a sweet line. Way left, way right, and back to the center. Pretty much picture perfect. Next was George and Hans. They had a nearly identical line as Tyler’s and mine and dropped into the center mank. Lastly were Dan and Jonathon and they both had stellar lines. After shooting some photos and taking some shots of Fireball Whisky we continued our way downstream. Everything went smoothly with the exceptional of an exciting surf at the top hole of Submarine (the boat didn’t turn over though!). Finally it was time to take the helmet off, crack a beer, and get down to Waterfall Camp, which, on this particular day had two thumpy waterfalls.

The next morning we woke up to warm temperatures. We got on the water around 10:00 and found ourselves at Oak Flat around noonish. The sun came out and we loaded everything up in the blazing heat. Another great trip down the Illinois was exceptional folks!









Josephine Creek – January 31, 2010

Written by Will Volpert. Although we were floating on Josephine Creek, there is no gauge so your best reference is the Illinois. Here it is:


If there ever was such a thing as a “Classic Class II Run” it would be Josephine Creek. Dana and I scoped this one out in the Fall of 2009 while exploring our new home territory. It looked great. At the time, the Illinois was flowing a touch under 1400 CFS and Josephine had a substantial amount of water in it. Keep in mind that Josephine enters the Illinois a few miles below Kerby, which is where the gauge is. There’s no gauge for Josephine and, in fact, there is really no information on it other than historical notes linking it to the first gold discovered in Oregon (which was by a gal named Josephine, a miner’s daughter) and that the county was name after the discoverer (hence, “Josephine County”)

Who was on this trip?
Scott Malone of Rogue Wilderness
Pete Wallstrom of Momentum River Expeditions
Tyler Averyt of Galice Resort
Aaron Stone of Noah’s Rafting
Will Volpert of Rogue River Journeys

We parked my truck at the $8 Bridge and then took Tyler’s truck up Josephine. We stopped once to check the flow at a mining site, and then continued up into Fiddler Creek. HEADS UP: If Fiddler didn’t have wood in it… it would be an epic/awesome run. We turned around and went to the confluence of Fiddler and Josephine. Found a road to the tree line, walked down to the canyon to find an access point, and then started huffing stuff towards the creek. We only had to carry a little bit but the last part was steep. We ended up roping everything to the creek – which, by the way, looked spectacular.

Pete and I were R2ing a 10′ Avon “Rosie” and everyone else was IKing. The creek offered spectacular scenery. It was stunning. The water was the clearest I’d ever seen. Making it even more rewarding was the thought that we were probably the first ones to float this stretch of water (if anyone knows differently please let me know). It was class II, but there never was a really long stretch of flat water. In total we floated about 4.5 miles.

At take-out we ran into a local who was out on his dirtbike. He told us about access even further upstream of where we launched. I’m sure you’ll see a trip report here within a few weeks about access. Overall, awesome trip. Great people, beautiful creek… Can’t beat either.



Illinois River – November 21/22, 2009

Trip report written by Brent Davis. The flow peaked somewhere around 2750 CFS @Kerby on this trip, although for the most part we were ahead of this bubble.


Four of us ran, one raft, one cat, and one hardshell. We launched at 10:30 on Sat. with the gauge at 880 cfs and falling. It was fairly warm and sunny and the creeks were running pretty high from melting low elevation snow deposited on Friday. We planned on camping at either South Bend or just below Green Wall. The views were fantastic in the bright sun with wisps of cloud hanging on snow capped ridge lines. After lunch in the sun across from Pine Flat, we headed for South Bend and arrrived at about 2:45 to find a very large bear hanging out, so we abandoned any thought of camping there, skipped the customary break and headed to Green Wall for the scout.

The gauge was reading 830 cfs at 3:00, but Green Wall looked more like 1100 cfs and the hole at the bottom was starting to get serious, so we chose the line to the right of it and had smooth runs. We all took the center chute at the top ledge. Dan made it look easy in a kayak, I’ve never seen anyone boat through Green Wall looking so relaxed. Will ran down the right side of the middle section and entered the bottom slot moving right to left, easily clearing the wall at the bottom. I ran down the left side of the middle section (skipping a series of large breaking waves) and entered the slot moving left to right, I had to stand on the oars pretty hard to miss the wall at the bottom by a few inches. In five Illinois trips it was my first clean run of Green Wall.

We camped at the 2nd eddy on the left below Green Wall. There’s room for maybe 4 boats, 4 or 5 tents and a small kitchen, but if you’re there in the rain, beware of seepage and run-off. It rained for about 6 or 7 hours Saturday night. The kitchen had a soggy floor from seepage and Will woke up in the middle of the night with a creek running under his tent, but we woke up in the morning to mostly blue sky. I perched on a rock and sipped my coffee as dawn illuminated Green Wall, it was nice to be viewing it from below. This would probably not be a good camp to get stuck in during a high water event.

The river came up over night and we could tell it was rising all morning as we watched the rocks on the top ledge of Green Wall become submerged. We guessed it looked 2000ish by 10:00 when we left camp (the rock on the far right at the top ledge was still exposed on the downstream side), but the gauge was reading 2360 cfs. We had a great run out with some sun, fast water, and lots of play spots. We hit Oak Flat at about 12:30 for an easy afternoon drive home.

I recommend having at least one person in your party scout the bottom hole at Green Wall. Our right line from Sat. tightened up by Sunday morning with a violent, exploding surge on the right side of the slot and a much bigger reversal to punch at the bottom. The hole itself became much bigger. At some point you can sneak left of the hole, but you’d need to know where you want to be and confident that there is enough water to get to the left of a rock positioned directly above.







Upper Illinois River – October 17, 2009

I had heard of “Big Falls” on the Illnois but had not seen it. I figured that, now having moved to Selma, I might as well take an IK and check it out. Pete Wallstrom of Momentum River Expeditions traveled from Ashland and we ran a shuttle and then put in at the Lower Six Mile access-point. The flow was around 15o-ish CFS in Kerby so it was pretty slow going. In total: 3.5 miles in just under three hours. But most of the time was spent drifting through flat pools, staring through the crystal clear water, watching salmon head upstream, and gawking at the scenery.

In terms of rapids, obviously there is “Big Falls” (which we portaged river-left), but there is also one other some-what steep fast riffle. At higher water it would be interesting to see what this would turn into. On this run, we just lined up on river right, squared to a very small lateral, and shot through the slot. Big Falls is impressive and, although it has been run, I wouldn’t be up for it. Especially at this flow where, as Pete pointed out, some of the drop was landing on a rock at the base of the flow. Furthermore, there’s an undercut on the river-left wall, which is where quite a bit of the water ends up going – that is unless you opt to land on the rock.

We took out at McCaleb Ranch, where there is a road coming down the canyon from the Illinois River Road.

Here are some photos from this trip:







Illinois River – April 4/5, 2009


We left Portland mid-day on Friday and headed to Selma. The adventure truly began shortly after dropping the trailer at the Rogue River Journeys guide house when we decided to eat dinner at the bar in Wonder. Definitely a locals place, it was nice to see the community in full form. Jane (the owner) started it off with a good-natured “Who the hell are you guys?” The food was great and we felt very protected by Jane and her cash register pistol. After a few drinks it seemed like a good idea to buy one of their t-shirts, which we did. It gave me an idea for t-shirts on this site: “If you touch my boat…” (you’ll have to ask me about what the rest said)…

After our stint in Wonder, we drove back to Selma. Pete and Tom, who were driving from Carson City, got in just before the rest of crashed out. Woke the next morning to icy grass and 26 degrees. Pretty chilly. Got to the put-in a little after 8:00 AM. Aaron, Megan, Kynne, and Tyler met us there as well and soon we were on the water. Even though the gauge said it was under 900 CFS, it was definitely healthy and the tributaries were kicking in quite a bit. 900 when things are dry is certainly different than 900 when the streams are flowing.

Ate lunch in the scorching sun on the bar just upstream and across from Klondike. Here, the sunburns started to kick in and Aaron went for a swim to cool off. That certainly doesn’t happen on most Illy trips! Reached Green Wall a little after 3:00. We all caught the eddy upstream of the first drop, except for Alan who decided to just run through and snap photos from the bottom.

There were two options at Green Wall: Door A or Door B and the hole at the bottom drop was pretty small with a tongue just to the right. We all made it through without too much excitement and continued downstream. The rest of the way to camp was uneventful and we made it to the Waterfall Camp just after 5:00. It stayed light for another two or so hours and we filled up on a hearty meal. Brent passed around the Fire Ball, we had just the right amount of beer, and, thanks to our Dex Phone Book and the wood Doug brought, we had a blazing fire. We were the lucky ones!

It was another good trip on the Illinois. Made take-out just after 1:00 and got back to Portland at a decent hour!




























Illinois River – March 8, 2009


It was a 9:00 to 5:00 day. Except we weren’t at work, there was plentiful beer consumption, and we were on the beautiful Illinois. Launched at 9 AM and took out at 5 PM. We pushed a little in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon to enjoy the canyon.

Stopped at Pine Flat to water the trees, a quick stop at South Bend to determine that, yes, it was snowing and then on to Prelude and Green Wall. We must have done something right because the snow/sleet/rain stuff stopped and the sun broke free long enough to get to the bottom of Green Wall and have a lunch atop a rock with a great view of the beautiful rapid.






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.