ON - Georgian Bay - 2007/07/27 to 2007/07/30 - Part 2

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Kayaking on Georgian Bay near Killarney, Ontario. Day 3 through Day 6.

Day 3 - 20.8 miles

Ah how nice to awake without the hum - almost no mosquitos this morning. A hazy sun has risen over the few rocks between me and the open bay. I have another crossing scheduled for this morning so its good to have fair skies and just a light wind. I pack and leave my little rock with the big streak in the middle.

I leave the shelter and intimate rocks of the southeast side of the Bustard Islands and round the southern tip. Turning northeast I see the Bustard Island Rocks lighthouse ahead of me. As I paddle toward it. The visibility, which started out as four miles through a slight haze, gets noticeably smaller. All around and everywhere at once a thin fog is developing. Unlike the fog bank that I am used to, this fog does not roll in from somewhere else but forms seemingly spontaneously everywhere at once. Like a curtain rising from the sea surface the visibility decreases to half a mile but gets no worse. I continue with the one and a half mile crossing back over to the shore near The Fingerboards.

Once over near the shallows on the mainland I turn west and paddle along the outside of all the small islands for about 15 miles. During the middle of the afternoon, the fog lifted in the same strange manner it had come. Everything starts to get clearer everywhere all at once. The winds remain light at less than ten knots.

By late afternoon I am once more looking for a place to camp. I had passed the French River Provincial park where there are designated campsites requiring a permit. I had also passed the Indian Reserve at Point Grondine. I do not know the rules for landing on their territory so I just avoided it. Now I am in an area where as far as I know you can just camp anywhere. I find a nice high chunk of rock with a shallow flat rock around the back for pulling the boat out of the water. On the top of the rock are several large cracks filled with pools of rain water and deep moss. This is going to be a buggy camp in spite of the 15 knot wind blowing in from the bay. In the distance to the west I can see the Fox Islands. This little pack of islands were I suppose the hunters of the other group of islands I had passed earlier in the day - The Chickens. With the fog gone some convective clouds appear on the western horizon and are now impinging the disc of the sun casting a silver light over the bay, islands and my camp. Soon I am in shadow while the Fox Islands remained in the sunlight.

I set up the tent in the only relatively flat place on this big rock that wasn't channeling several hundred square meters of impervious rock surface down through the tent site. Even though the rock was convex and sleeping on it without rolling off my mattress would be difficult, at least I wouldn't have a river passing under and perhaps into the tent if it started to rain.

Day 4 - 10.2 miles

Well I only got a brief rain shower last night but it was enough to cause quite a number of little rivulets coming through a couple of places that I had considered for my tent spot. As I had figured the mosquitos were bad this morning and I was glad to be on the water paddling toward the Fox Islands.

As I approached the islands I began seeing several groups of kayak campers. I saw more kayakers this day than on any other day of my trip. The Fox Islands and all the little rocks on the south side of Phillip Edward Island are very picturesque. The clear water is a bright turquoise to green in color, looking almost tropical. The white quartz mountains of Killarney Park contrast with the thick green stands of pine on the mainland. With only an easy half day paddle out of Killarney and its outfitters to get here, it is not surprising that this place is well attended with kayakers and boaters. I saw six different groups as I went past the Fox Islands and rounded the western end of Phillip Edward and began to paddle back east in the narrow high sided channel that separates PEI from the mainland.

As I passed by an island in the middle of the channel, I noticed a fire ring up on the very end of the island. With a nice mud bank full of reeds to pull the kayak up onto, I decided it would make a nice place to stop for lunch. Besides I was getting tired paddling into the 18 knot headwind I had faced since turning back northeast. Sure enough up on the 20 foot cliff was a beautiful camp with a perfect place for the tent under the pines. The forest floor was a thick duff of soft pine needle. The scent of the pine resin filled the air, liberated from the needles and pine tree trunks by the warm sun of a brilliant blue sky. The wind through the pine needles called to me that this was one of the most idyllic camps I had ever seen. I decided to call it a day and set up camp, even though it was only mid day and I had only made about ten miles.

I pitched the test under an inviting pine tree and took a glorious nap. Upon awakening I started a small exploration of my little piece of terra firma. There was another little rock and reed beach on the other side of the island from where my boat was pulled up. Between the two shores was a stand of willows. It was quite clear that this was beaver territory as there were several paths through the reeds. Also there were many felled branches soaking in the water. I could not see their house, but surely they must live nearby. I was glad to have my water filter as giardia is often found where there are beavers. I walked/climbed up to the summit where I found some red raspberries and some very small but very tasty blueberries.

Returning to camp left a few hours to sit and enjoy the day and the little items of interest around the camp, blue flowers, some moss among the pine needles and a cute little tree growing in a crack in the rock. The little thing was destined for a hard life with so little soil for nourishment.

As it grew dark, I decided to go ahead and use the pre-existing fire ring and the charcoal and left over wood of a previous camper. Usually I never use a campfire as it is ecological destructive. But since everything was already here I decided to indulge. I started a small little fire and got close so the smoke and heat would discourage the mosquitos who were trying to make a S'more out of me. From the bluff over the water, I could see two beavers swimming down the shore. They didn't see me until I stood up. Then one slapped the water with its tail, warning the other and they both dove out of sight.

For my small fire I had burned down about half of the wood left at the site by the time I decided to call it a night. It took three bottles of water in a wine bottle that someone had carelessly or thoughtlessly left at the site to completely douse the fire. With the very dry pine needles littering the ground, any spark landing outside the fire ring could have caught fire. I made sure I stirred and drowned the campfire as taught me by Smokey The Bear. Once the fire was out it was quick into the tent before being consumed by mosquitos, a few of which made it into the tent with me. After a brief hunt and the dispatch of four of them, I turned off the light and was soon asleep.

Day 5 - 19.8 miles

The next morning the strong northeast winds had disappeared. This morning the winds were nearly calm. The little wind there was came from the south. The island I was on sheltered the cove and made a perfect reflection of the granite spine across from my camp site. With a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds it was a very special scene.

Today I would continue paddling around the north side of Phillip Edward Island along a passage named Collins Inlet. The ever narrowing channel made a nearly straight passage through high banks. About half way around the top of the island a mile and a half long and quite deep arm heads south. In the middle of Mill Lake, as the area is named, are a number of islands. There are some cabins on a few of the islands and yachts were anchored in the coves off the islands. I paddled down the lake to the end along one bank and then up the east side on my return. The lake is much shallower on the eastern side and the larger boats can only make passage on the western side.

Along the banks of Collins Inlet long strands of submerged aquatic vegetation rose kelp like from the bottom. In closer to shore the lilies with their pads and blossoms were interspersed with the grasses. I saw a pike lounging among the pads and I also paddled over something that exploded in a flash of shiny skin, fins and water as the bottom touched him. I would guess it was another pike or muskellunge about two feet long. It was one of the few fish I saw. There weren't even many fishermen around. Perhaps it was the wrong time of year. But the few people I saw fishing looked to be casual fisherman, a dad and his son or daughter just trying their luck, usually in the middle of the day. Everyone I asked seemed to not be catching any fish.

At the end of Collins Inlet I turned south and headed into Beaverstone Bay. The wind had picked up to high Force 3 coming right up the bay. I paddled along the islands on the west side of the bay stopping at one of the smaller ones. In the shallows I noticed a large number of what looked to be fresh water mussels. I had seen the shells opened on the granite rocks where I assumed the birds had dropped them in order to open them. I decided to collect some and cook them up. I soon had picked up three dozen in the waist deep water. I put them in the kayak and continued on down the bay until I found a nice place to pull out. I got out my pot and stove and cooked up the first dozen. They were frankly terrible, tasting like the mud and green algae which they fed upon. I released the other two dozen back to the water.

I continued on down the bay and around the southeast corner of the island where I found a nice rock for camping on Hincks Island. The little cove was protected from the south and west so any weather that blew up over night wouldn't leave me stranded on the rock. The water right off the camp site was deep and clear. Further up the island were a number of fire rings and charred wood. Boaters around here really like to create fire rings. They are all over. The heat of the fires causes the granite underneath to crack and exfoliate, leaving not only the unsightly carbon stain of a fire but considerable physical damage as well. Too bad no one seems to realize the damage they are causing.

As I wandered over my little island I found some more raspberries and blue berries. One soon learns to seek the berries at the ends of the run off channels. Here the berries are bigger and more plump for they are not so starved for rain as are the ones growing in small cracks in the barren granite.

The island was exposed on its southern end to the open Georgian Bay. Small waves came in breaking over a smooth granite rock that looked like the back of a small whale blow hole and all swiming along the shore. A silvery glint from the sun shining through high cloud covered the water to the west of the island. In the far distance the mountains of Killarney were dark, their usual white quartz tops shadowed on the east slopes.

Day 6 - 20.5 miles

The next day I left Hincks Island and headed southeast along the coast, turning due east once I reached The Chickens. I paddled past the Indian Reserve at Point Grondine and into the Voyageur Channel of the French River. This is a part of the route used by the French Canadian Voyageurs to travel from the St. Lawrence to the beaver filled rivers west of Lake Superior. I wanted to follow in the wake of these hardy paddlers and investigate the river which they used.

I paddled as far up the river as I could until I ran into the falls. One was just a riffle over rocks and one was a fast moving chute. I was not going to get past any of them without a portage. There were not any explicitly marked portages and I didn't have a permit for any of the camps above the falls, so I turned back and headed out to the bay along Fort Channel.

Once out of the Fort Channel I turned east through Maitland Bank and started looking for a camp site near Bottom Island. I noticed this totem on a rock next to a small channel. It was a little off the main route and not at an official campsite, but I pulled in anyway. The well constructed little man had been signed by its creator, Anna.

The site had a flat area for a tent and a set of cedar trees that made a perfect windbreak for the 15 knot winds out of the west that had developed during the afternoon. Once again there were fire rings all over this little island as well as circles of loose rocks that people had used to anchor their tent and had not replaced them back to where they are gotten them. I used a couple of the rocks on the inside of my tent to keep it held down in case the wind shifted out from behind the trees. My tent is free standing so I do not have to worry about not being able to peg the corners down which of course is quite impossible on the hard granite. Here the only thing you can do is tie the corners with rope and place rocks on the rope or load rocks into the inside of the tent. Hence all the rocks in a circle in the places where people have put up tents.

I put the kayak in a crack along the edge of the shore where it would also be safe from the wind. Tall cumulus clouds were building over the mountains of Killarney, The sun was right on the edge of the clouds and as the sun went down the clouds moved to the west so that the sun was always right on its edge. In any case it didn't look like there would be any rain this afternoon.

On to Part 3...........

Return to Part 1....




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