I don't remember ever not loving Georgian Bay. And every time I go back, I just love it even more. Thus, this trip report - which summarizes a trip which included the very best parts of Georgian Bay in a week - will likely be full of whatever words my thesaurus will show under synonyms for glorious…
A week ago, I got on a school bus (and if you were wondering, it wasn't the little bus, either). Flashbacks to my school days and the daily 90 minutes notwithstanding, I was pretty excited to be getting on that bus (and even more excited when the school bus did a Tim Hortons coffee stop, we never got that when I went to school), because it meant that we were on our way to Killarney for a really cool adventure. See, behind the school bus was a trailer with our boats, and in the school bus were eight paddlers - all of them well groomed and clean at this point - and their gear. And the gear included seven paddlers' food bags, which were still full of treats.
Are you counting with me? Eight paddlers. Seven food bag owners. Nobody on a starvation diet, either. Sad to say, Joe's food bags did not make it onto the bus, and consequently Joe did not make it out on the trip, and we said goodbye before ever hitting the water and Joe rode the bus back to Parry Sound. The rest of us, though, shoved, cajoled and wriggled our gear into the various nooks and crannies of our boats (Gord's duct tape is still in the bow of his Extreme. By some miracle, no part of Gary got stuck in his Gulfstream, since his packing job required something akin to physically crawling into his hatches and sucking the air out of his gear with a straw. John settled on strapping a big bag to his rear deck of his new boat. I smirked, since having packed my GTS so many times meant that I actually had a space for everything. Not to mention no skeg box, and more than 17 feet of boat to plunk stuff into…)
I'd never sea kayaked out of the Killarney area, and since we already know that unexplored territory + fun activity = danger of Johanna wetting herself she's so happy, I made sure I had my bilge pump ready when we started paddling down Chickanishing Creek. And then! The Bay! And it's particularly pretty around Killarney, because you have that backdrop of white quartzite ridges (Ron suggested that when we get tired of paddling we go for a quick ski - it looked that white. I thought this was a silly idea, not because it was still July and thirtysome degrees and sunny but because of the "when we get tired of paddling" part of the suggestion).
We only did a short day, to Desjardins Point, which made me happy because of the aforementioned unexplored territory point. This area is riddled with premium camping spots, and we spied one that seemed to be the cream of the crop from the water - and it was unoccupied! How could all these silly people bypass this perfect spot - gently sloping landing, sculpted rock, a perfect camping ledge high above the water - for other less enticing ones? Clearly, we were the smart ones for finding it.
We didn't look so smart five minutes later, when we discovered that the gently sloping landing was more slippery than greased dogshit. I kid you not - I got out of my boat, and I sat down in the water, because my feet slid away beneath me. From there on, we all looked like we were part of a comedy routine - try as we might, we could not get in to shore. I have no idea how Gord eventually did it, but he extended his paddle to me and hauled me in, and by this time Gary was on land and he threw a towline to Ron to bring him in. Of all of us, only Nancy figured out where to bring her boat in, and I think she was the only one who never wiped out in the slime. Personally, I went for a hat trick, with a couple of spectacular wipe-outs later in the day during the swimming part of the afternoon routine (the swimming part was after the beer part, but it was only one beer, so no, it wasn't alcohol related. It was slime related). My third wipeout hurt, and I had visions of backache and having Advil for breakfast, but I had a little lie-down on the hot rocks, and all was well.Meanwhile, the men of the group decided that it would be particularly exciting to all cluster together on one rock out form shore, and Nancy and I sat on our hot rocks and laughed at them. I guess it's a guy thing.
Our campsite really was great. It had enough room for all six of our tents, it had a downed tree that would provide an emergency shelter (and did, the next morning, when we waited out some rain), it had rocks you could wander up to take in the view. The one department it was perhaps lacking in was soil, which we needed for complying with the established and approved poop-disposal techniques, but Nancy solved this problem when she found a pocket of soil down a little cliff and decided to hang a rope so we could get to it. The idea was to take hold of the rope and swing on down, and then use it to come back up. It worked, at least for some: Gary proudly reported that he felt like Tarzan, but Nancy - who asked Bill and me to come looking for her if she didn't come back soon (the rest of the group was out paddling) got stuck at the bottom and Bill and I … ummm… forgot. Oops.
Our first night on the Bay was uneventful, but our second day out there was just chock-full of events. It started with rain as soon as we'd finished packing up. For some reason, we decided to wait for a bit rather than risk being struck by lightning (*I* was game to paddle. Though there were no giants on this trip, I was still the shortest person - and John was much, much taller than me. I figured I'd just paddle next to him). So we huddled in our tree, cracking jokes, and then Bill cracked some joke about Gary's boat not complying with the no paddling rule. It took us a few seconds to realize that it wasn't a joke, and the red boat really had launched itself. Fortunately, Gord braved the slime and he and his purple boat came out as a heros. Eventually, though, we came to the same conclusion as Gary's boat, and launched.
And we paddled off into some high winds. There was wind, there was big water, there were shoals, and there was more rain. I pulled out the goofy red hat, and thus became invincible. We pushed into the rough stuff. As usual, I loved it while simultaneously wondering just how many pairs of clean underwear I'd brought. But, really, it's big fun when you're in challenging stuff: you work hard, and your mind works too. I love not just the paddling, but scanning the water to find my way through the shoals. I was still loving it at one point when I looked around and counted heads, and came to six - and I had remembered to count my own head. I counted again. Still six. So I asked Gord, who was paddling sweep and right behind me, to count. He only needed one finger on his second hand too. We were missing John - and Gord thought he saw his paddle flashes in a bay to the left, so went off to investigate. I picked up my pace to go tell Ron where Gord was going - and just as I pulled level with Nancy, I saw a big rock and veered right. The wave that broke over it was huge - I was maybe five meters to the right of the rock, and it hit me squarely in the chest. I paddled like stink, and punched through. Nancy, however, was practically over the rock, and had taken a breaking wave just before this one and thus was not even facing this one squarely. All I saw was a wall of white, and then I saw the white of her hull, and then (to my great relief) her head pop up. Her boat, however, was sucked into the washing machine. I didn't even contemplate going in there, I just started blowing my whistle like I was demented. Lucky for me, Gary was not far ahead - and he had his boat turned around and was heading into the washing machine for Nancy's boat before it smashed on the rocks that were 100m downwind before I could even register where her boat was headed. I got as close to Nancy as I could without going into the really scary stuff, and she swam to hang out with me until Ron showed up to save the day and I beelined for calmer water - where I found Bill, and eventually Gord. We chose an overland route to find Nancy, Ron and Gary huddled on some rocks - boats safe (though everything had been ripped off Nancy's rear deck) and paddlers safe.