FKT: Becky Grebosky - Illinois River Trail (OR) - 2022-10-02

Route variation
one way
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
9h 16m 23s

What a day! I feel so lucky to have experienced the rugged and remote Kalmiopsis Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Illinois River Trail today.  

I started out just before 8am with 2 liters of water, a filter, 4 spring energy gels, a PBJ, some salt tabs, and a couple of rice krispie treats...around 50 degrees.  Giant thanks, by the way, to my husband Jamie who drove me to the start (2 hrs), drove to the end (4 hrs), and drove us home (2 more...).  

Beautiful going for the 1st 6 miles, winding along a ledge high above the river. Then I made a grand mistake and followed a trail way down to the river, all the while feeling like something was wrong, but not checking my gpx file.  A mile and 700 feet down, I realized the error. The climb back up was soul-sucking and when I got back to the ridge, I noticed another trail tucked behind a downed tree!

Anyway, the trail continued to be stunning, with views of the river, and then a steep cut inland and up Bald Mountain, where I experienced the remains (and regrowth) from the Biscuit (2002) and Chetco (2017) fires.  Around mile 20, I veered back down toward the river and ran out of steam. I filtered water around 23 and wished I had more food.  But the views and terrain kept shifting, so I stayed focused (lots of brush taking over the trail, grabbing at my ankles and prickling me, then massive views of the entire range, then a mysterious burn, then emerald green crystal clear water, then old growth doug fir/sword fern forest.....).  

Being completely alone so close to my "backyard" in an area I have never explored made me feel very very lucky to live in Southern Oregon.  If you haven't been here before, please check out the Illinois River Trail.  And give some thanks to the Siskiyou Mountain Club, who brought it back to life!