California to Jerusalem
Illinois Canals

How do you keep life simple?

Between July 28 and August 7 we walked the Hennepin Canal and parts of the Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal across north central Illinois to the Fox River in Ottawa. These pictures show some of the flavor of that passage..

We arrive at the Hennepin Canal in the early morning in Moline.

Morning on the canal.

We go under a bridge and encounter our first of many locks. Water cascades over a concrete dam where once a door held the water at bay while boats entered or exited on the low side. Many of the locks have similar cement dams with no-longer-existing doors.

Petra walks the path between trees and the canal often hidden by tall weeds and volunteer trees. We were walking on a technically closed path.

This is why the path was closed. The weather had washed away a couple sections of the path. This is the bigger washout. We had to pull and tug and carry our carts down and then up a make-shift path worn in by many who have passed here since the wash out.

Another lock taken from a lift bridge at the end of the lock.

Petra had to take this picture of me standing on that bridge. She said we have too many pictures of her and not enough of me.

This is the leaking dam of another lock. The door was replaced with the dam. But it leaks as much as the door would have leaked.

The back lock doors (the ones down stream) on most locks are almost in working order. At least they have not been torn out in many cases. This is the outside side of one of these doors.

And this is a view of the inside of another door. The levers opened and closed underwater doors to allow water to exit the lock or be held in.

Petra walks the canal protected from the ever-present sun by her umbrella.

One of many huge cottonwoods along the canal.

The sun continues to shine.

More cottonwoods offer brief respites from the relentless sun.

In Annawan we met Jim Briggs who is walking across the country from east to west. He is walking in sections a few months each year. This year he started in New Philadelphia, Ohio and is walking to South Dakota or so. We talked long of each others' walks.

The next day we walked the more long straight-aways like this one.

Fog had a serious hold on the canal as we got up from our tent site at Lock 21.

Two and a half hours later the fog was still holding in at a lock up the canal.

At one place three locks follow each other in close succession. Here one follows another by only a few tens of yards. You can see the falls of one lock through its doors while the closer one has no doors in this on-end view.

Petra walks along the path below these multiple locks. By the time we reach these locks we have passed the center (hydraulically) of the canal and its feeder canal. Now the water is flowing east toward the Illinois River. Before it was flowing west to the Mississippi.

Off the Hennepin Canal and on the way to the I&M Canal we passed this sign on the outskirts of Peru, Illinois. Does such a run-down sign say something about the town center it is trying to promote? We saw it as ironic and symbolic of what is happening in so many town centers.

We walked over the bridge south of La Salle to this eastward view of the I&M Canal. This was one of the few places along the canal that had a lot of water. Many other sections were clogged with weeds or just dry.

This was the final lock on the canal before the barges entered the Illinois river. They have prettied it up to show us how all the others one time looked. Only pieces of the other locks remain.

When we arrived in Utica, we could find no place to stay. In the Co-op Owner Gerard (right) set us with Marcia's B&B in Ottawa and contacted the gentleman on the left (I do not remember his name) to give us a ride to Marcia's. Next to Petra in the center is Dr. John Firehawk who helped Petra with her newly formed blisters. We do not know whether his spray or the new shoes Marty delivered that day did the trick. But the blisters went away. We must say however that his spray has helped with several other minor injuries in the days since. We had a wonderful late afternoon at Gerard's.

When we returned the next day to walk from Utica to Ottawa, the rain came down in buckets most of the day. It was the rainiest day we have had on the walk so far. You cannot see it here probably because I could not take a picture at its height; my umbrella was leaking at its seams.

The rain may have stopped near the end of our day's walk; but we still had a lot of water to avoid.

Return to the window where you came from.

Changed Oct 14
Copyright © 2009-2013 Mike Metras,