Viens chez-moi     Viens chez-moi, voyageur
Viens, viens Chez-moi voyageur

Je t'attends, je t'attends
Viens chez-moi voyageur


June 12th
Getting there and a nasty surprise.

incoming stormCold and brisk. campsite 613Campsite 613. We left Briagreen about 07:15 and, with only 2 stops for coffee, arrived in Hartley Bay at 1:30. After paying $10.00 per person per day in Park Fees, we unloaded and started paddling at 2:15. The weather was cold and overcast so we spend an easy hour paddling over to Site 613 for the night. After setting up tents, Doug cooked up a nice steak with a salad and some red wine while I played with my canoe.

broken canoe seat Seat/thwart after removing the rotted wood and drilling a new seat bolt hole. new seatJury-rigged seat and thwart. Just as I was approaching the campsite, the seat in my Shearwater broke. Quite the surprise and almost a dump. Thank goodness for a good brace and the fact that the seat broke on my paddle side. The falling seat also ripped the back of a water shoe making it next to useless. Day one of six. I wonder when, in the following days, my temporary work will fall apart and dump me and all of my gear in the water?

June 13th
Off to the Old Voyageur Channel

Doug canoeingDoug canoeing hard voyageur route Into the Old Voyageur Channel. On the water by 08:00 with winds at our back. An imature bald eagle flew quite low and right in front of us. Good omens. The water through the channel was running high and fast. Although the Old Voyageur Channel has a special cache about it, Doug and I really doubt that this is, in fact, the real route. The "canot de maître" was used between Montreal and Lake Superior. They were 8 to 10 meters long by 2 meter wide, a draft of about 0.75 meters, and could transport 3,600 kilos of goods. They were manned by a crew of 8 to 12. Not a canoe for this channel.

Wondering about the actual Old Voyageur Route

ledgeQuite the 90 degree turn after this ledge. the channel Doug coming down the Old Voyageur Channel chute. Apparently Dalles Rapids had been dynamited to substantially increase the flow down the French River Main Channel. This caused the water levels in the western channels to drop considerably so we think that the actual route is just to the west of the Old Voyageur Channel. We ended up camping at Bullis Point. There wasn't much for flat ground but in berry season, this place should be loaded with blueberries and, most likely, feeding bears.

June 14th
Black Bay to the top of the Old Voyageur Channel

morningGreat beginnings to a great day Doug canoeingHeading to Black Bay Doug and I wanted to head down the Old Voyageur Channel again but the current in the chute was much too strong. So we decided to head up Black Bay to see if we could get through and ascertain if it would have been a better and therefore more probable route. Black Bay is wide and deep making it idea for the larger canoes. Two liftovers, although fun and a bit challenging for us, would have been well underwater until the blasting of Dalles Rapids. Another great run down the Old Channel, down the chute and back to camp. A perfect day and another nice night at Bullis Point.

ted canoeingTed waiting for the seat to break again. water snakeA large and very beautiful water snake hunting at the water's edge I was quite worried about the seat repair breaking so had been kneeling for two solid days. I was hoping that less weight on the seat and feet underneath would stop it from dropping too far. By the end of the day, I could barely walk. Doug spotted both a mud puppy (salamander with external gills) and, best of all, a meter long very beautiful water snake. I spent the better part of an hour watching it swim, relax and hunt. Feet forgotten about.

June 15th
To and through the Finger Boards

The Finger Boards are a group of long islands and shoals made from glacial action.

Doug canoeingDoug - why canoe when you can walk on water. islandsThe Finger Boards We has a nice relaxing paddle over to Lily Chutes. The Black River Channel can often be accessed via Devil's Door Rapid but not this year. It was way too big a drop ending in a large 45 degree curler at the bottom. Big Jameson Rapids was just that - big - too big for a loaded flat water canoe. The sneak through Little Jameson was perfect however. It was a fun few hours discovering and trying to manoeuvre around hidden shoals in the Finger Boards.

channelThe little channel into Site 724. campsiteOur campsite. We almost missed the little channel into Campsite 724. It was actually a post indicating Site 725 that got Doug's attention. Site 724 is a lovely spot - up a little channel and some shade. Shade was really needed and enjoyed. A few bugs in early evening but nothing untowards. 725 and 724 are large expanses of bedrock with lots of loose rocks used in lieu of tent pegs.

June 16th
Circumnavigating the island

While looking at the map, I mentioned to Doug that it appeared as if a person might be able to head further up our channel and get to the Bad River Channel across from Devil Door Rapid via several creeks and ponds. Doug immediately said "Let's do it clockwise." So we did. A very interesting day indeed and thank goodness for accurate maps.

turkey vultureWhy do turkey vultures always follow me? Ted and DougTed and Doug relaxing after a fun day. After weaving through the Finger Boards, we eventually turned north up the Bad River Channel, then a turn east into a channel that got progressively smaller and ended with a few liftovers and a rather large beaver dam. The rest of the trip was exploring and trying to determine which of many creeks or long bays were the correct route. Sometime mid-afternoon, we approached our campsite from the north. Done and well worth the effort.

horizonInfinity Doug taking photosDoug photographing the sunset.
It was our last evening on Georgian Bay so Doug and I spent some time just enjoying and photographing. I couldn't help but take a photo of Doug taking a photo. The full moon was the perfect ending.

June 17th
Back to Hartley Bay

rusting ships boilersRusting boilers and sunken water-logged wood
All good times must end. At Doug's suggestion, we decided to try a different route home via the Main Channel and Dalles Rapids. Along the way we spotted three old ship's boilers rusting in the water at the edge of the Channel. Two were side by side. They were a couple of logging tug boats that technology had over-taken. They were steam driven and new tugs were diesel so they had just been run aground to slowly rot and rust away. One of the old boilers had taken on a second life as a beaver lodge with sticks and mud closing up the larger openings.

The Bear at Dalles Rapids

Sorry for not having any photos of this experience but we were rather occupied at the time.

Doug and I, after a couple of fast chutes that required some lining, found the beach and the portage around the main part of Dalles Rapids. We both had lots of gear so we decided on a 3-pass portage. As I had to stop to put on decent walking shoes, Doug ended up well ahead of me. One of my portage tricks is to carry both main pack and food barrel for a while, then leave the food barrel half-way and an easy walk back for it.

Doug had dropped his gear and was heading back for more when he surprised a bear sniffing around my food barrel. It took off and we thought nothing more about it - at least for a while. Nonetheless we decided that one person should stay with both food barrels while the other went back for more gear and canoes. Everything went fine for a while. But shortly after Doug left for his canoe, I spotted the bear staring at me from about 30 feet away. I immediately went into shouting and rock throwing mode being careful not to actually hit him. Instead of taking off however, he quietly took a few steps towards me - no huffing, snorting or stomping the ground. That's when I started aiming the rocks at him and slid the safety off the bear spray trigger. Shortly after Doug came back down the trail, the bear slowly turned around and just walked off. Thank goodness for that.

While I was changing back from walking to water shoes, Doug heard it coming around for a third time! That's when I did a one shoe on - one shoe off clamber into my canoe and was gone! He was a fair sized male but a bit skinny and, most likely, very hungry from hibernation. This fellow wasn't bothered at all by verbal abuse or badly thrown rocks so my guess is that he was habituated to swear words and rocks from cottages and fish camps in the area.

Worried about the upcoming weekend and perhaps more campers heading south via Dalles Rapids, we decided to canoe all the way back to Hartley Bay to let the staff know. They also thought that the bear was way too aggressive and phoned the Park Warden to advise him. It was a long drive home that night rather than a last full-moon evening at a camp but....

I really shouldn't be too worried as in 50 some-odd years of camping in grizzly and black bear country, this was my first really negative experience.

Time now to start thinking about a sea kayak trip back that way for next year.