By Jim Hagerty
The start-to-finish Rock River kayak trip continued Friday, May 23, as three college students from Illinois paddled toward Dixon, Ill., on their way to the mighty Mississippi.
Jon Gress, Jake Boucher and Garrett Feik stopped in Rockford Wednesday, May 21. The team met Frank Schier, founder of the Rock River Trail, TV crews and staff from the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau before setting up camp at the SM&SF Club.
Thursday, May 22, they were joined for 17 miles by kayakers Scott Skrogstad and Dave Druen, of Daves Outdoor World.
“To top it off, Frank Schier brought us some fantastic steak dinners,” Feik said via Facebook. “Afterwards, we all had a round table discussion on what we hope to see become of the Rock River. There’s a lot of work to be done, but with the Rock River Trail leading the way, we foresee great things in the future for our Rock River.”
A 100-year-old cabin at Lowden State Park was their shelter Thursday night.
Boucher said they will portage around two dams on this stretch of the 320-mile paddle. The Dixon Dam is downtown Dixon while the Sinnissippi Dam is near Rock Falls, Ill. The men will camp in Sterling, Ill., Friday night, and be on the water over the Memorial Day weekend.
The trip was initially scheduled to conclude Thursday, May 29. Because they bought some time early on, they will be in the Quad Cities Tuesday, May 27, Boucher said. They started on the journey Tuesday, May 13, near Horicon, Wis.
The paddle is a fundraiser for Maranatha Baptist University, in Watertown, Wis., where Boucher and Gress are students. They hope to raise as much as they can through donations to help pay for athletic uniforms and paint the school’s gymnasium.
Feik, of Aledo, Ill., is enrolled at Western Illinois University. Boucher also hails from Aledo. Gress is from Pekin, Ill.
Follow the trip at facebook.com/RockRiverStart2Finish. Updates are also listed at rockrivertimes.com and rockrivertrail.com.
Send donations to:
Maranatha Baptist University Sabercats
745 West Main St.
Watertown, WI 53094
Online donations can be made at mbbc.edu/kayak/.