Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Multi-Day River Expeditions

Multi-day river and lake trips range from 50 miles to 150 miles in length and involve camping each night on beaches. Of course, this necessitates carrying all the gear and food and water you'll need for many days. Here are photos and info on the trips I've done so far...

--1999 Rafting the Grand Canyon in Arizona

-- 2003 Kayaking the Mississippi River in Illinois and Iowa

-- 2003 Kayaking the Suwannee River in Florida (middle Suwannee)

-- 2003 Houseboating and Kayaking Lake Powell in Arizona (western portion)

-- 2007 Canoeing the Missouri River in Montana (Missouri Breaks)

-- 2008 Canoeing the Green River (again) in Utah

--2012 Again Houseboating and Kayaking Lake Powell in Arizona  (eastern portion)

-- 2018 Paddling Way Down Upon the Suwannee River in Florida (upper Suwannee)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MetroBikeLink Trail

St. Clair County in Illinois is home to this rail-with-trail as it travels from Belleville to Swansea. Though only 7 miles in length now, there are plans to extend in each direction to the next train station thus making it accessible to six stations. The southern end runs briefly through a sub-division, but construction is underway to move it alongside the track and build an overpass to avoid  a busy street. The train travels all the way to St. Louis' Lambert Field airport.

The trail is mainly flat with some rises and a few overpasses and underpasses to negotiate. Currently it ends at Memorial Hospital in Belleville on the north and South Western Illinois College on the south. Below you see the train passing as it speeds by. The trains are electric and quite quiet as they speed past, and they allow you to ride the trail with your bike if the need arises.

The trail is equipped with these emergency call towers at regular intervals.

The Richland Creek Greenway Trail travels along the creek and takes you though seven Belleville city parks. Currently it is in two un-connected sections and the trail totals about 4 miles. This bridge is just past the water treatment facility.

Here's the map for the trail.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lake County Removing Dams from the Des Plaines River

The Des Plaines River in Lake County was interrupted by three old low-head dams that had been built back in the 1930s or earlier by farmers to create pools for fishing or watering crops or for farm vehicles to cross the river to reach fields on the other side. Below you see the dam that is visible from the bike trail bridge in Dan Wright Woods. Four times I paddled the Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon and had to negotiate the dam with canoes and kayaks. If you look closely, you can see a "V" notch cut in the concrete which I used uneventfully each time, but craft that missed the notch had problems.The dam is 140 feet long, two to three feet high, and 25 feet wide.

Since the dams are no longer necessary and in fact disrupt river travel by fish and invertebrates, they are being removed. The Ryerson Dam was removed in 2013 and ecological improvements are already being seen, such as small bass sightings upriver. Also, silt will no longer accumulate behind the dams.

Below is a photo I took on 9/24/14 from the same bike trail bridge, after work had begun on the removal process. But pilings were discovered under the water and the projected had to be re-engineered and bids re-let. Then with Illinois' financial difficulties, the funding was cancelled and work halted.

Kudos to Lake County! Realizing the state may never again fund the removal of the remaining two dams, Lake County has decided to foot the bill ($690,000) even though they may not be repaid eventually by the state. 

So here's the work resuming. I took this photo from the same bridge yesterday. The concrete that had been on the right side of the photo (eastern half of the river) is gone and work is proceeding on the west side now.

The Illinois EPA and Illinois DNR will work with the forest preserve district to sample the river for three to five years after the removal. It will be interesting to see how Mother Nature reclaims her own along the waterway!