While the road name would lead one to believe the access to this run is Free and Easy, only the free part is true.
We parked just shy of the ford of Josephine Creek, where the hiking began.
Contemplating distance travelled and distance yet to be travelled.
The hike is all along a road, which makes for easy going.
Being Priscilla's birthday, Ben put together this centerpiece once we reached the put in.
The put in rapid provided a promising start.
After the put in rapid the river cruised along with fun and straight forward rapids. The most consistent obstacle were the willows growing out of the riverbed. None required portaging and most added positively to the enjoyment of the rapids.
We took a break at the first steep-ish boulder garden while Aaron tended to a full body cramp.
The stream rolled along with short, but nice rapids in a mini canyon. At some point we ducked a log and the whitewater quality picked up, getting a little steeper with more engaging class III-IV rapids.
The river continued to gorge up until reaching its apex where the gorge walls, though low, were steep. We got out on the left after the entrance to scout "Birthday Bootie", so named after the birthday girl swam due to a suspect seal launch decision.
Aaron in the middle of "Birthday Bootie", just around the corner we stayed left through some neat hydraulics and a ledge or two. Below here was some more fun cruising with short, fun rapids that continued down to the confluence with Josephine Creek.
At this point the group split ways, Ben, Kate and Priscilla paddled down to the confluence of the Illinois, while I jogged the short distance back to the vehicle and returned to where Aaron waited with the boats. Aaron and I made the drive back out and met the team where they were waiting with a fire at the bridge just downstream of Josephine Campground on the Illinois. We loaded up and headed back to Priscilla's parents house for a birthday barbecue.
The Illinois peaked at 2,000 cfs while we were on Canyon, when I return I will look for double or triple that flow for a class IV day on the water.
We ran Canyon Creek on Feb 27, 2016
I like this gauge better since its on a similarly sized stream.
You may wonder, where is Canyon Creek?