|Stand-Up Paddleboarding the Galena River|
Galena is a favorite destination for many of us busy Chicagoians. Accessible and rather posh, its perfect for long weekends and getaways. The comparatively rugged scenery of the northwest fin of the state starkly contrasts with the common idea that Illinois is flat and uninteresting. One could easily into several thousand feet of elevation gain and loss if on a bike. Hiking opportunities abound too. I've thought of it as New England Scenery meets Midwestern Nice.
|A different kind of river experience than the one we're used to in the Loop|
I've never been stand up paddleboarding before but Dee is a tremendous fan. Being a yoga teacher and a lady quite fond of all things water, she took to stand up paddleboard yoga as a way to combine her favorite things. We rented through Fever River Outfitters and has a nice 4 hour trip up and down the river.
Initially we headed north past most of the iconic sights of Galena. The town's golden gate bridge instantly came into view and towered over our little paddleboards. Clearly the river gets quite high as the bridge looked strongly built- like it could withstand a tremendous amount of force from a spring river. Towards the right, the famous Grant Park and all of its Civil War era relics were nicely framed.
|Grant Park who's famous lettering was washed away in a major flood. Of course, somebody's Eagle Scout Project was restoring this sightly location!|
|Dee, going up the Fever River|
Outside of town the trees and flora close in and the river seems just about as wild as it has ever been. Horseshoe mount looms overhead and the rugged landscape of this part of the state is clearly appreciated. We saw a few other intrepid paddlers on our trip but for the most part we were alone. This late in the summer, the river was teaming with life and a cacophony of noise from insects and birds. Such a pleasant noise to hear when one is used to the roar of downtown Chicago!
|A few other paddlers on the river|
At some point we turned around and half-floated/half-paddled our merry way back through Galena. Had we more time, we would have liked to have made it to the Mississippi River about 4 miles away. We did paddle about another half a mile down the river from our starting point and further appreciated a waterway in its natural state.
I'm used to the "dawn to dusk" long distance kayak paddling trips which usually involve more effort than appreciation of scenery. I admit I've long made fun of standup paddleboarding as a fake sport but this trip I really came to like this pasttime. Its a less intense way to experience the river but still we felt we burned enough calories to enjoy more food downtown. I'll sheepishly admit that I was even a bit sore after 4 hours of paddling, something Dee will never let me live down.
We found another way to explore our new-favorite getaway! I'm sure we will be back in the fall.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!