Previous Post: Kayaking Georgian Bay – Killarney To Snug Harbour
Unless your trip is a loop and you paddle your way back to where you started, the biggest logistical issue is getting back to your vehicle! The two basic options are :
- Jockeying cars so that one is at each end. It is the cheap solution but it can be a bit of a downer at the end of a trip. Cost: time. In our case, 5 to 6 hours of driving.
- arranging a shuttle. On the plus side, it eliminates the drive back to the put-in to retrieve the vehicle. Cost: money. In our case, $650.!
We decided to go with the shuttle option.
White Squall rents kayaks and canoes. Not having my own, I rented a Boreal Designs composite sea kayak for eight days at $42. a day. White Squall also provides a shuttle service. This included the use of their vehicle to transport the three kayaks. Using your own vehicle and having the shuttle driver drive it back to the end point would presumably cost a bit less. Cost for us: $650. shared by the three of us.
My rental kayak was already on their vehicle when we arrived before 10 a.m. After loading the other two onto the White Squall truck, the driver followed our two vehicles to Snug Harbour. It was his last day on the job. Later, as he drove us up to Killarney we briefed him on our route and he filled us in on his upcoming move out west to Kamloops and his Outdoor Education program at Thompson Rivers University. Lots of anticipation all around!
We had arranged with the folks at Gilly’s Marina to leave our cars in their parking lot, paying $7.50 a day for the nine days we figured it might take us to paddle back to Snug Harbour from our Chikanishing put-in point. Then we headed up to Chikanishing in the White Squall vehicle. We were getting ready to put in at Chikanishing about four hours after heading for Snug Harbour from the White Squall Center.
A the end of the trip – waiting for us at Snug Harbour were our vehicles; we would drop off my rental kayak at White Squall on the way out to the 400 and the ride back to Toronto. Given how little the trip down the coast cost, the $220. per person for the shuttle was easy to rationalize!
To make sure we’d get to White Squall early, we had driven up from Toronto to Ken’s family cottage on Victoria Harbour the night before. We were treated to the warm glow of sunset as we sat on the patio. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the next day called for major rainfall at least until the early afternoon.
Before getting to White Squall at 9:30 we drove through a torrential downpour or two and watched another one from the Jolly Roger restaurant just south of Parry Sound where we had stopped for breakfast. After that it seemed to clear up a bit – but not completely. At Chikanishing as we were loading our kayaks with our various bags, there was one more badly timed downpour. We did not know it at the time but after that wet send-off, we were to have seven days without any rain!
Day 1: From Chikanishing Creek To Solomons Island
The Chikanishing Creek Road turn-off from Highway 637 is just 1.4 kilometers past the Killarney Park Info Center. It ends in the large parking lot pictured in the satellite image below. It is a popular parking spot for kayakers and canoeists off on their Georgian Bay paddle trip. (It costs $14.50 a day to park there; you pay at the Park office.) We drove to the grassy area just above the put-in and within a half-hour were ready to go. The bonus downpour probably speeded things up a bit!
Given that it was 1:45 when we set off we knew that we would not get far, maybe ten kilometers or so. It would all depend on the wind and the waves. The NW wind pushed us down the Bay side of Philip Edward Island after we rounded South Point and we zig-zagged our way through the maze of islands along the coast.
The water would be a bit choppy as we made our way east along Philip Edward Island. As the map shows we made major use of the islands as wind blockers. Happy just to be on the water, we were not obsessing about the distance covered on this first day. We would make a couple of stops – one for lunch and another to stretch our legs and check out the views. The stretch of water above Le Hayes Island would be about the most turbulent we would see during the entire trip!
It was about 4:30 when we passed by what looked to be a possible campsite. I thought I recognized the island from the hill behind the camp area. The previous summer my brother and I had stopped for lunch on the south side of an island and then gone for a ramble up the hill behind us for fine views all the way east to Big Rock. This looked like it – but, then again, it was not the same!
While Ken and Rick landed their kayaks I paddled around the point to the south side, thinking I would see something that fit in better with what I remembered. Unsuccessful, I turned back and checked out the spot that we decided would be our home for the night. It was only when I got home and took a look at the GPS track on my computer screen that it became clear that the Used-To-Be Island that I had convinced myself we had camped on was actually Solomons Island. Both islands do have fine viewpoints – as the snippet of Jeff’s Killarney map makes clear!
Both Rick and Ken, pros at Georgian Bay kayaking and camping, pitched their tents on flat rock surfaces. I chose a more sheltered spot tucked in among the trees on the left where I was able to make use of my tent pegs.
Day 1 – in spite of the bad weather in the morning – had been a great start to our trip down the Georgian Bay coast. We had covered about 8 kilometers. Day 2 would add another 20+ and have us paddling through more of that Bay “eye candy” that makes kayaking there so incredibly rewarding.
Day 2: Solomons I. to Past Point Grondine
Given the myriad of possible routes of a trip down the Georgian Bay coast, the map above illustrates just one thing – what we were comfortable with on Day 2 given the lack of wind and waves. Another day and the route would be adapted to suit the different conditions. Thanks to an almost windless day and calm water, we paddled long stretches across open water, not feeling a need to stay really close to the shore or use islands to break the wind.
Rick and Ken have done several trips down the Bay coast over the years so it was fantastic to be able to tag along and benefit from their experience – and their collection of great places to stop and have a break, have lunch, have a swim, or set up camp. It was all there on Rick’s heavily annotated map! As we passed by the above rock face I recognized – just a tad late – a photo-op. Out came the little point and shoot and a view that did not quite capture what I had wanted to.
Luckily the spot – Family Island – was on Rock’s list of special places so as we rounded the corner – just over an hour into the day! – we beached our kayaks and made ourselves at home. I even got out my Helinox chair! I’ll admit, though, that I spent most of the next hour rambling around the island with my camera and lenses. While I never did get that shot that had originally drawn my eye to the island, I got a bunch of others from an equally enchanting perspective!
Back to the kayaks and there was Rick studying his map and a horizontal Ken taking in some of the warmth of the sun.
By 11 we were approaching Beaverstone Bay, passing some cottages on the way. South of Popham Point is a collection of islands and rocks known as The Chickens with Hen Island on the south-east looking over them! We found a flat rock to beach our kayaks and then hopped over some rocks to find a spot sheltered from the wind that had picked up a bit since our start at 8:30.
Some canoe tripping parties make a rushed affair out of lunch. Day 2 and I was liking what I was seeing – these guys took their time and even let their engines idle for a bit after lunch. My brother and I have always spent an hour or so on our midday break; Rick and Ken were doing the same!
After lunch we rounded Point Grondine and headed up to some islands north of Horseshoe Bay. (Jeff’s Killarney map does show a couple of island campsites just north of the point but we were headed a bit further up.) Since the mainland (Point Grondine Reserve #3) is a part of Wikwemikong First Nations territory, no camping is allowed. We made sure that we were indeed on an island before we called it a day!
Still in the category of Crown Land are the islands offshore of the reserve – i.e. the Chickens and the islands on the east side of Point Grondine where we were looking for a camp site. Current negotiations may change the status of those islands, as well as Philip Edward Island (P.E.I.) and the Foxes and the Hawks island groups south of P.E.I. The map above shows the proposed settlement to the land claims issue with pink and yellow indicating lands under discussion.
Our campsite choice was not on Jeff’s Killarney map but it more than fit the bill as an excellent stop thanks to its flat tenting spots and fine views.
Day 2 – another great day on the water and on the rocks and islands! This Georgian Bay kayak tripping is easy to take. This canoe tripper, used to rapids and beaver dams and sweepers on the rivers of the interior boreal forest, was not missing the portages! Coming up – two very satisfying days where we covered almost 60 kilometers in more great paddling weather.