Day 1 – Monday, July 02, 2012 (day off in Canada)
7:30 – 11:00 – drove from Caledon to Hartley Bay Marina: Mount Wolfe Rd North to Hwy 9, then East to Hwy 400, North on Hwy 400 and 69 with short stay at Tim Horton’s in Parry Sound. North of the Bridge over French River turned left to Hartley Bay Road and after 14.5 km we were at the Hartley Bay Marina – family run business very busy this time of year. Paperwork was minimal, we unloaded the car and left the keys to rangers to park the car.
12:30 or so we were on the water: Olga and Eugene in the rented canoe and me in my kayak.
Until 6:00 PM we paddled along the Hartley Bay, turned left (South) to the Wanapitei Bay, then turned right (West) into French River Western Channel and went between left (Southern) bank and Pig Island. Stopped for the night at the campsite #702, where Western Channel turned to the South.
|Loading a canoe (note on the rack only one left)|
|Ready to go: my Advanced Frame Inflatable|
|South on a Wanapitei Bay: between left (East) shore |
and chain of elongated islands
Followed Western Channel to the South. Had a short lunch on the small island where river divided for several branches – channels. We choose Old Voyageur Channel for our trip and follow it until we came to the dead end. Discouraged by this issue we decided that it is not an Old Voyageur Channel at all and came back to where the river splits. We tried the right Channel, which had to be Voyageur Channel or Black Bay, but there were no way through at all. Finally we headed into the only direction where the open water was seen – to the South-East – into Channels of Bad River. It was close to 6:00 PM when we stopped at the campsite #731.
|Entering to the Old Voyageur Channel|
|Sometimes it became really narrow|
|There is dead end there...|
|Back to the entrance and into Bad River Channel|
|There on the left are the shutes of tomorrow |
(view from the site #731)
Day 3 - Wednesday, July 04, 2012
After some hesitations we decided to go to the Liley Chutes and use the portage there – the way recommended by many people and by boaters we met just above the Chutes. Portage was about 100 m long and went along the open rocks. We took the pictures of the Liley Chutes from above – even with this low water it would be impossible to pass them neither in kayak nor in canoe. We were in the West Cross Channel now – just in place where we supposed to come through the Old Voyageur Channel. Detour was finished thus and we continued our route to the East through the Devil's Doors. Thise rapids are easily accessible in the low water. “Behind the Doors” one has a choice: to go South to the open waters of the Georgian Bay or to pass the treacherous labyrinth of the West Cross Channel. The wind was fresh enough to persuade us to the latter. If we’d know in advance that it will be 5(!) beaver dams to lift over instead of 2 mentioned in Kevin Callan’s description, we’d better go to the Georgian Bay.
It was still lunch time when we enter the East Cross Channel and stopped for snack at the campsite #729. Paddling to the East we had to lift over 5 beaver dams and the closer we were to the entrance into Georgian Bay the louder the wind swept among the trees.
Finally we enter the Georgian Bay and cannot resist to swim in its clear water. Two consecutive campsites (#719 and 715) were occupied and only third one (#714) was waiting for us. And it was beautiful!
|Liley Chutes, portage on the right side|
|Exiting the Devil's Doors - safe and sound|
|Damn Dam ! I think it was third. |
Two more to go, but we have no idea yet.
|Over there the Georgian Bay is!|
|One of the best campsites - #714 at the entrance to the Eastern Channel|
Day 4 – Thursday, July 05, 2012
Wind changed direction last night and once again in the morning and became though not 100% fair but quite propitious for us to go along the Georgian bay shore to the Bay which ended with the longest and most comfortable portage in the area. It goes from Georgian Bay to the Bass Lake, is 240 m long and all covered by the plank. There is even a car to carry your kayak/canoe and gear. Of course true travelers never used the car. We used it for one trip and then abandoned and brought our canoe by ourselves.
When in the Bass Lake one has to hug the left shore not to miss the channel heading to the North and hided behind an island. We had a nice lunch and swimming session after entering the main Channel of the French River and then paddled to the North toward the “Elbow Cross”.
Night at the Campsite # with a beaver and a deer.
Scylla and Charybdis - among small islands |
along Southern Shore of the Georgian Bay.
|A "Civilized" portage at the bass Lake|
|Hi beaver, could you please take picture of us three?|
|Our last campsite (# 621 )|
Day 5 – Friday, July 06, 2012
We’re heading home and there was a rare opportunity: the favorable wind – just in our back. After crossing the Main Channel we formally close the ring (circle) and entered into Wanapitei Bay again. Stopped for lunch on the opposite side of the island where campsite #601 was situated (it was occupied). Swam for the last time, boiled the water for tea on the gas stove (tried it for the first time) and were ready to cover the last portion of our route through the Hartley Bay to the Marina. It was Friday and more and more boats run toward us in the opposite direction. It was just time to go home. Again the wind was favorable and Olga even made a sale to speed canoe past my kayak.
|Americans in canoe: paddling with the kayak paddle and using sail|
At the Marina we met the team who began the trip same day as we did and who portaged at the Bass Lake together with us. Took pictures of one another and drove home.At 6:00 PM we were in Caledon. The Big French River Delta Loop was closed successfully! My old dream came true!