Grafton Paddle – 9/23/2020

I had a random day off of work and I wanted to get in some paddling somewhere new to me. Danelle was working and not able to join me. So I contacted JoJo and Jason to see what they thought. They were up for anything. Along the way we also picked up Mark Fish to join us. The plan I came up with was to paddle from Pere Marquette State Park on the Illinois river back to the Alton Slough that I started from in an earlier paddle. I figured this to be approximately a 25 mile paddle.

The plan was to meet at the Alton Slough finish area at 8 am. There, we would all meet. But as a fantastic surprise. JoJo who maintains many friendships all over had a friend meet us to shuttle drive. Her friend lived in the area making it convenient for helping us out! Sorry I forgot your name, but you are amazing!!!

With all the boats loaded on JoJo’s van, the 5 of us rode out to Pere Marquette State park to put the boats in and set off on an adventure! The shuttle ride was pleasant and we arrived at the park’s boat ramp. Its here that I should mention that we had 2 boats. Mark’s “Into The Mystic” kayak, and JoJo’s new 26′ wood strip 3 person canoe. This was the first voyage for this new boat.

Being a new boat, it took a bit to get our outfitting correct. In the process, JoJo managed to slip on the slimy boat ramp concrete. After seeing this, we all decided to launch from the boat dock to avoid any more falls. It is much harder to enter and exit canoes and kayaks from boat docks as they are much higher, but with team work, we all stayed dry and got in without any more falls.

We were getting settled. Jason and JoJo were going to double blade. I forgot to get mine out of the van, so it was single blade only for me.

A quick peek before we went out of the protected area and into the river.

I did try to double blade this canoe from the middle seat, but the middle is too wide. Actually, its too wide to sit in the middle and perform any effective paddling. If I scooted to the edge where I could apply more power, the boat would have tipped.

The scenery was everything we hoped it would be!

We picked our way between islands as the river is very wide in this section.

Seems crazy to us having houses this close to the river. They have to get flooded!

Jason was in the back paddling hard and steering the whole way.

So happy to be out paddling.

A sunk barge.

This is the Highway 67 bridge that connects Alton, IL to Missouri. Just a mile or more beyond it is the Melvin Price Lock and damn. But we’ll jump off the river just before it.

Looking at the town of Alton, IL

I was slightly off on my distance estimate. Just under 24 miles. And somehow I can’t type and he is now “Mark dish”.

Hogan Haake