Sunday, April 29, 2012
Today I was joined by my co-paddler and we headed further south on the Fox River. We dropped in at Fox River Shores Forest Preserve in Kane County. This is a nice, lesser known, put in. It is just up river from the dam on the northside of West Dundee.
The weather was 'ok' for a nice long trip. There was some wind when we started, and the sun never really came out, but all in all, it wasn't too cold or too windy. This is my second time paddling this section and both times, the current was pretty strong.
The water was low this trip and the current was not as strong as the last time I was out. We slowed down pretty good in some of the bends, but we followed the deeper water and we made some good headway. There were a few fishing boats out, but the water is too low for any major boating activity so that keeps the traffic really low in this area.
We paddled about 3 miles upstream and got further than the last time I hit this section. Once you start getting to Buffalo Park, the water gets pretty low (hug the east shore and find some deep water). The current also picks up quite a bit. This is where we turned around, because we were not gaining any distance.
As always, there was something unique to this trip. We were coming up to Buffalo Park and on the east side we spotted a deer running through some backyards. We saw her cross an opening and then duck back into the bushes. She reappeared in the water! We watched her swim across the river and disappear into the forest on the other side. I honestly didn't realize that deer could swim! The swimming deer is in the picture below right in the center below the shore line.
On our way back downstream we came across a HUGE softshell turtle. His shell was about the size of a large serving platter. He check us out as much as we were checking him out and we decided to leave before we upset him at all. He was a MONSTER!
This section is also home to some less natural things. There are two abandoned cars on the east side of the river just before the river bends west towards Buffalo Park. I dropped off my scout to investigate them a little more. They are some old relics and pretty cool to see from the water.
This is a great section to paddle if you are ok with a strong current. It isn't a hard paddle, but you do have to work at it. The current can take over pretty quick once you stop paddling.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
For what ever reason, I never realized that I was so close to the Des Plaines River. It was one of those things in my head.... "if I am ever over that way, I should check it out". Well, I don't know what I was thinking, there is access to the river about a half hour from work. So, I headed east and met up with the Des Plaines in Libertyville at the Oak Spring Rd Canoe Launch.
This is also the park that the Canoe Marathon kicks off at. I am very excited to be a part of that this year. It looks like it is going to be a great time and a nice long trip down the river.
I dropped in at Oak Creek and headed north. The river has a nice current to it. I think it would have scared me off last season, but it really wasn't anything overwhelming for me now. If you stopped paddling, you stopped. There was no coasting. It wasn't enough to spin me around and push the canoe back, but you knew when you stopped paddling....
Right off the bat on this trip, I saw a first for me. I had never seen a hive when out on the water. There was a nice size one hanging off a limb right over the river here. It was an old one, but it was still a unnerving looking straight up at it.
This section of the river was mostly forest preserve and neighborhood. It was really quiet out there. There was a couple spots that you could really hear the water trickling past a fallen limb and birds up in the trees. It really took you away from the hustle a bustle that was just blocks away.
A cool thing about paddling in a neighborhood section is that you get to see how some people live. Now, it is always different looking at one tiny part of someones property and dreaming how they live their life, but whatever.... that's how I do it. Plus, it isn't me dreaming how they live their lives.... it's me dreaming how I would live mine if I had their stuff. This bonfire setup was one of those moments. I could see myself sipping some beer and watching the water flow by in the firelight. Someday.... someday..
In this area, I was in Minear Park. Right along the bend in here is a log cabin structure. It was really cool all tucked in the woods on the river. I tried finding info about it online, but didn't see anything. I don't know if it is an old structure or something that was more recently built. Either way, it was cool to stumble across.
And around the next, my up river tour ended. I was met with a clog in the system. There had been a bunch of limbs and debris that had backed up against some large trees. It made a natural dam that was passable, but just not by me that day. I made it into the dam, but wasn't so ambitious to fight my way over it.
Instead, I chose to begin my floating portion of the trip. I spun the canoe around and headed back to the launch. I really got a feel for how good the current was at this point. It swept me down river pretty quick.
This was a great section of the river to hit. I am very excited to spend more time on it this season. I will be attending the Canoe Marathon and that will really give me a good tour of the Des Plaines River....well 18 miles of it at least.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
This morning I grabbed my thermos and headed to the river just as the sun was coming up. I got out to Lions Park in Fox River Grove and headed North up the Fox. This section is becoming my home base. It's close to home and there is plenty of mileage in both directions.
Coming under NW Highway, I was headed right into the sun for a good distance. It was pretty blinding. The birds were the only other creature I saw out there this time. There was one fish that jumped for me, but other than that, it was just the birds and I. It was a great way to start the day.
I only paddled a couple miles up river before I decided to let the current flip me around. I poured some coffee and started my lazy paddle back. On the way back, I stopped into Beaver Cove to see if I could see any action in there before getting off the water.
I was pretty deep into the cove when I came across the Goose below. Usually, the birds always fly away or move when the canoe is coming too close. This guy switched it up on me and turned towards me. I thought it was pretty neat that he was getting so close....until he got too close. He gave me the head nod a couple times then fluffed out his wings. That's when I started back paddling and making my way back out of the cove. Now, I do feel a little embarrassed that a goose won a game of chicken with my 16 ft canoe.... but I did not want to ruin my morning by getting attacked by a territorial goose. He strong armed me (or strong winged me rather) out of the cove, and I am ok with that. I know when I am not welcomed...lol