Rafting Oregon’s Illinois River III 23-Apr-2021

This section of the Illinois contains eight named rapids, including the famous Class V Green Wall. If yesterday had been a wet, but easy, day, today was expected to be a hard and wet day. We prepared for the ordeal ahead with meditation and stretching.

The stork pose
Getting loose for the water ahead

Soon after leaving camp, we came to Prelude Rapid (IV-, aka Fawn Falls). By now the flow (measured up at the USGS gauge near Selma) had fallen to 496 cubic feet per second (14 m3/s) and the line was tight. Much pushing and pulling and walking ensued. But we managed to get all the rafts (and passengers) through without any mishaps.

The rafts had to be heaved through a narrow gap where the water was now too low to float them
The passengers walked
Two rafts through, two more to go
Interlude

Prelude Rapid is a prelude to the Green Wall Rapid (V). After much scouting, the guides determined that the flow was too low to safely float guests. They would take the rafts through while we walked around to the bottom of the rapids. It was a little disappointing (but not much) to not run Green Wall but being on shore allowed for better photos of this famous rapid. The heavier gear rafts were able to make it through but the lighter passenger rafts had to be hauled around some obstacles.

Green Wall Rapid
Green Wall Rapid
One of the drops in Green Wall Rapid
Shana goes aground mid-channel
And is pulled free by Alex
Getting over an obstacle at low flow
Down the Green Wall
One last raft
Regrouping at the bottom of the rapid
You said we’re going on a cruise. Where’s the shuffle board? The endless buffet?

We got past the Green Wall and into the Little Green Wall Rapid (IV). It was just slightly less complicated and we were able to run it with everyone onboard and no lining or portaging.

Through Little Green Wall Rapid
Shana powers through Little Green Wall

Two more rapids followed – Sweeney Todd (III+, aka Rapid #97) and Holey Pohle (IV, aka Rapid #104). Rebekah got thrown out of her raft in one of these and was pleased to find that her dry suit was in fact dry as Derik lined her back to shore. Then came Submarine Hole (IV) where we again had to resort to pushing and squeezing.

At the head of Submarine Hole
The raft gets wedged…
And heaved on through
Derik celebrates during lunch at the bottom of Submarine Hole

After we got past Submarine Hole, the day got much less intense. We started losing sunlight to an overcast that was streaming in ahead of a wet storm due in tomorrow. So, after some glorified riffles and two more rapids (Rapid #131 (III+) and Horse Sign Creek Rapid (III+)), we were all glad to pull into camp at Horse Sign Creek, some 12 miles (19 km) and nine hours after leaving South Bend.

Cruising along toward camp
The Illinois River Trail crosses a robust bridge at Silver Creek
The Illinois River from the Silver Creek Bridge (2016)
Clouds streaming in ahead of the storm
Fantz Ranch (arrow) and the Illinois River from Buzzard’s Roost (2016)
Horse Sign Creek under an overcast sky
The LovedOne, Jonathan, and Steve prepared for rain (so it wouldn’t)

We fully expected the storm to strike us before we reached camp. It didn’t. After we arrived there were a few passing sprinkles that barely got anything wet. These soon went away. So we had another great dinner in the open and sat around the campfire solving the worlds problems until overcome by tiredness. Then to bed, to be soothed by the white noise coming from Horse Sign Creek. It had been a long, but excellent, day. πŸ˜€ Tomorrow would be a short run to the take-out and a long drive home.

RETURN TO FRONT PAGE

5 comments

  1. Yes, but that fine line – the need to be prepared for some level of uncertainty and still being able to deal with whatever the conditions throw at you… that IS part of the fun! πŸ‘πŸ˜‰

    Like

  2. If you’ve read enough of our posts, you’ll know that there’s often a fine line between fun and “character building” activities with us. A very fine line. πŸ™„ At higher water we might have been able to float the rafts through all the obstacles in this otherwise beautiful river. But at 400 cfs, some work was necessary.

    Like

  3. The Green Wall was the longest and most intense of all the rapids we went through. Per our guides, too intense at this low water level. This is one rapid where vicariously has its advantages! πŸ™‚

    Like

  4. Okay, this settles it. I am never rafting this river. But I’m really glad you did! The Green Wall looks insane, and so do most of those other rapids.

    Like

Comments are closed.