Dates: July 29 – August 1, 2011
A long weekend always means travelling. We took an extra day off to make it 4 days, so that we can try out the Old Voyageur Channel canoe route I recently read about in a newly purchased guide book.
Change of plans
We started late (in this case it means 6AM), so we only got to the canoe rental place at 10AM. Getting the canoe, packing it, and parking the car took some more time, so we were on the water at 11AM. Normally, it’s not a problem, but French river has a peculiar micro-climate that makes starting late a really bad idea. The Main Channel of the river runs almost in a straight line from the Georgian bay, and also aligns perfectly with prevailing wind direction. That means that by mid-morning, paddlers on the way to Georgian Bay often start experiencing very strong head wind and waves. All of this makes progress in a canoe quite slow and difficult. Case in point – on the first day of the trip, we were really struggling to make enough progress so that we would still be able to complete the full route (the guide book estimated 4-5 days, so we were already cutting it close). Eventually, we decided to change our route for a shorter one. We decided to be really lazy and chose the Figure 8 route, normally a 3 day trip. Here’s a map (bonus points if you can guess where exactly we chickened out). After the change of plans, the trip became very relaxed. We got to the first campsite early, and spent the rest of the night relaxing, swimming in the French River, and enjoying the great views.
We smartened up a bit, and started earlier. We were already on the water at 8AM. The wind didn’t pick up yet, and the water was very calm, so we easily covered the distance remaining to the location called “The Elbow”, where the river splits into two channels. We turned West, still following the Main Channel, and found these weird objects sunk in the water:
We portaged around the Dalles rapids, and quickly made our way to the entrance to the Georgian Bay. The paddle in the calm morning waters was so effortless that by noon we already reached our campsite. I am a fan of this starting early concept now; never before paddling 12km seemed so effortless.
Our own little island
The campsite was on Mangee Island in the waters of Georgian Bay. It was a fabulous camping site. It had a little bunch of trees to hide from the sun, a nice swimming area, and total solitude (except for an occasional paddler going by and looking for a campsite). We spent the rest of the day in a very lazy manner – mostly reading and napping. At one point, I went for a swim, although the water was a bit chilly. Vitaly chickened out and staid on the shore.
We staid up until the sunset, and then went to bed to get an early start next day.
To be continued….