Ever had one of those trips that you’ve always wanted to do, but never quite get around to actually making happen? The Illinois River has been one of those for me. Located in southwestern Oregon, it’s just a little too far from Bellingham for it to be an easy weekend objective, and it’s a short enough stretch of river that it’s tough to justify a longer trip/time off from work/etc. So, it became something we talked about doing for years, but that’s as far as it ever got. This year, we finally decided that enough is enough, so one day after work four of us piled into my rig and hit the road.
I’m so glad that we did. The Illinois is incredible. We made it to the put-in at 2AM, camped next to the car, and woke up the next morning with nothing ahead of us but three days of paddling on a beautiful stretch of wilderness river complete with warm sunshine, fun rapids, crystal clear turquoise water, skinny dipping, amazing riverside campsites, and drinking well-earned beers around the campfire with good friends while watching the stars. It really was that good, and the river is at a perfect level in the early spring, when warm weather hasn’t quite fully hit Bellingham. It was like being transported two months forward in time. It has me fired up to check off a few more of those lingering projects that I keep putting off, and I know for sure that we’ll be back for another trip down the Illinois next spring!
A few more images from the trip: