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Interview: Kayaking the Fox River with Brittany Tripp

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If you’re out on the Fox River, chances are you’re going to meet Brittany Tripp. An artist, avid outdoor enthusiast and Aurora resident, Brittany’s fondness for the Fox and the Aurora Area shows through in her commitment to education and community-building. We caught up with Brittany to ask about her favorite season to go paddling and to get tips for visitors looking to kayak the Fox River in the Aurora Area, from the Challenger Dam in Batavia on down to the Marge Cline Whitewater Course in Yorkville. 

What's your connection to the Aurora Area?

I've lived in the Aurora area for about ten years now. Wow, it's actually been a long time. Both of my kids were born here and we really love the community we've found here. Over the years I've worked for some really great organizations (including the Fox Valley Park District) and have been able to balance that with staying home part of the time with my children.

I'm involved in the Aurora Mural Project and other community initiatives to promote public art in our city. My personal projects at the moment are Tripp Collective, which is a bit of an art project, and Midwest Wild Women, an online community whose mission it is to connect, inspire, and empower women on an organizational and individual level. And of course I love the river. If I'm not coming up with some wild idea, I'm usually out on the water. At least that's where I'd prefer to be.

How often do you get out on the water? What do you like most about the Fox River?

I like to go out once a week whenever possible. If I can manage to snag some free time mid-week I'll drop what I'm doing to float around a bit. Sunday mornings are a favorite for me. I'll head out nice and early before the heat of the day. Usually I ask a friend if they want to meet up and paddle up river. I like that the Fox is so accessible for me. I live near Downtown Aurora so it's really convenient to either walk the kayak down to the water using the trailer my husband fashioned or throw the kayak on top of the car and just zip over there. Every day is different because the river's always moving, always changing. It can be a leisurely paddle or a real workout depending on conditions. Also, it's worth mentioning that sometimes the river is not safe to paddle, especially after major rains and flooding. 

Have you ever paddled the Marge Cline Whitewater Course in Yorkville? 

My husband has paddled it but I haven't. The kids and I met him and cheered him on as he went and enjoyed some ice cream at Foxy's in Yorkville afterwards. How about I paddle it this weekend and get back to you? (Laughs) It's a great stretch of river if you put in south of the dam in Montgomery. 

What's your favorite season or weather to be out on the water?

Gosh, every season has something to offer. But as these summer days are waning, I am so looking forward to paddling this fall. Something about the crispness of the air and geese migrating overhead and that golden light of autumn. To be fair, I think fall's my favorite season in general. 

As someone who spends a lot of time on the Fox River, do you have any advice you'd offer visitors coming to the Aurora Area looking for outdoor adventure?

Come paddle Aurora! We have a great paddle shop in town, Rocktown Adventures, that can set you up with the gear and rentals that you need. Their knowledgeable staff can prepare you for the water. I do not work for them, just have a high opinion of the shop based on renting there and past interactions with their staff. If you own a kayak or canoe or other small watercraft, I'd just say you should familiarize yourself with the river. Know the locations of the dams, consider the weather conditions, water level, and temperature. And go for it! Be safe, have fun, and keep paddling. 

When you're not out enjoying the Fox River, what else do you like to do for fun in the Aurora Area?

The Aurora Area is great. Every year it feels more like home to my family. Our extensive trail system and amazing park district alone keep us entertained. I really love it right here in downtown, too. There are cute cafes and museums and our beautiful library. Plus, the First Friday of each month, all year round, Downtown Aurora comes alive with art as businesses open their doors to host pop-up art shows and other special activities. Throw in local summer festivals centered around art, music, and culture, and there's a lot to love about living here.

All photos in this article © Brittany Tripp. 

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