Eastern shore of Lake Huron, 30,000 islands region.
Something was swimming across the bow of my kayak and it wasn't a duck. I turned to intercept it as it reached a rock in the small bay. It was a mink and it turned to look at us curiously. Then it caught and ate a dragonfly, and went on with its swim.
We were on our way back to our put-in at Chikani-shing Creek after an overnight trip to the Fox Islands at the north end of Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. This huge bay on the northeastern side of Lake Huron has 30,000 islands. Most of the islands (and the mainland) are part of the Canadian Shield, a vast area of pink and gray-banded granite. The original white pine forests were logged years ago, replaced by spruce, hardwoods, and bushes. But the dominant features are the beautiful rock, the trees and the clear water. We had read about kayaking in Georgian Bay and thought we would get here in 2000. But it didn't happen. We tried again in 2002, crossing into Ontario, Canada near Buffalo, NY. From the Toronto region we traveled north to Parry Sound and checked into the provincial park on Killbear Point.
On our first day we rode our bikes about four miles to the end of Killbear Point along an excellent bike path. We found a nice kayak store and gathered information about where to go. We decided to start our first kayak trip from the beach at the lighthouse end of the park. As we drove the truck down the park road the next morning we saw a black bear on the bike path. We carried our kayaks down the short path to the water and loaded our lunch and rain jackets. We hadn't gone far when we encountered the first loon. We paddled along the east side of the point and stopped for lunch on a rocky islet. To the north a series of deep bays cut into the mainland with cottages dotting the shore. Slipping through a shallow gap near Johnson Island, we entered Loon Bay and continued around the Giffon Islands at its head. It was a lovely day with little wind. By the time we returned to the truck we had been paddling for 4 hours.
Our muscles and hands were sore, but by the next morning we had organized our gear for a 4-day trip to Franklin Island. If we were too tired we could camp on an island enroute. Some of the islands were privately owned and had cottages on them, but we saw few people. After eight miles we were paddling by Snug Harbor, the usual starting point for kayak trips to Franklin Island. The wind was beginning to rough up the water as we crossed into a bay north of Regatta Bay. By mid-afternoon we had made camp on a rocky point. The wind gave us some relief from the mosquitoes.
In the morning we paddled clockwise around the island, exploring various bays and narrow channels. We met a solitary kayaker at the southwest corner and continued up the west side in moderate swells from the open expanse of Georgian Bay. Usually we could stay inside the protection of rocks and islets. At the north end of the island we stopped for lunch on a large rock and considered portaging our kayaks across the narrow neck of a peninsula. But we continued around the peninsula and down the Shebeshekong Channel on the east side. Soon we were back in camp.
With the light rain in the morning we decided to head back. The water was calm and smooth. We celebrated our anniversary at a wonderful German restaurant near the park and had jaeger schnitzel and roladen and fine wine.
Traveling north, we put our trailer in an RV park at Sudbury and drove back to Killarney Prov. Park, our starting point for an overnight kayak trip to the Fox Islands in northern Georgian Bay. Paddling out of Chika-nishing Creek, we rounded the west and south sides of Phillip Edward Island, weaving our way through dozens of pink granite islets. After about four miles, we made camp on Anchor Island. The weather looked unsettled, so we lounged around after lunch. Then we took off and paddled among the many glacially sculpted pink granite islets and islands nearby. We chatted with a kayak guide who had made camp on Low Island, then continued on around the easternmost of the island group. The water got rough so we slipped back into the calm water and found a way through marshes of wild rice. After dinner we watched the sun go down from the top of a rock dome near camp. It didn't get dark until after 10 pm.
We explored several bays and inlets of Phillip Edward Island on our way back to Killarney Prov. Park. That's where we saw the mink. As we drove out of the park we saw two black bears beside the road.
We stayed in Killbear Provincial Park near Perry Sound, RV facilities.
No fees or permits for kayaking or camping on islands.
From Toronto, take Hwy 400 and Hwy 69 north toward Parry Sound and Sudbury.
Natural Resources Canada topo map 41 H/8 & 41 H/7 Parry Sound (for Franklin Island area).
41 H/14 Collins Inlet (for Fox Islands)