KAYAKING ON GEORGIAN BAY
Due to COVID-19, the NWT is closed to non-residents and non-essential travellers. Sadly, that means that this year I can’t get Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve, Canada’s newest park. Of course I’ve rescheduled my visit to 2021.
So this year I’m exploring near my home in Ontario. An old friend, Sue, who use to lead wilderness canoe trips with me, asked me to join her for an 8-day kayaking trip in KILLARNEY PROVINCIAL PARK and the nearby islands on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron.
Days of heavy rain and thunderstorms, accompanied by my inevitable migraines, kept us island-bound for a while. Our first wilderness camp thereby became a base-camp from which we explored the “neighbourhood”.
The water levels on the Great Lakes are at an all-time high, distorting the shapes of inlets and islands. There are now 2 or 3 small isles where our topographical maps indicate just 1 large one island should be – above the new water line, crowns of dead trees denote were the low lands between rocky hilltops once were. Other low islands and shoals that are marked on the map, no longer exist – sometimes we could see the yellowish, rocky humps far below our kayaks. I count hilltops, peninsulas, inlets, and channels as we paddle by, constantly cross-referencing my sightings with the maps and compass. In the wilderness there are no signposts to tell you where you are.
Also unlike at our city homes, we were continuously serenaded by song birds: wrens, warblers, finches, sparrows, and whippoorwills. Gulls, loons, geese, and even owls and woodpeckers added to the clamor, day and night. And without all the urban light pollution, we marveled at the sun rises and sets, and then at the innumerable stars and the milky way on cloudless nights.
These natural delights greatly offset the lack of modern conveniences and technological entertainment. Yup, I can live with a swim instead of a shower, pancakes with fresh-picked blueberries instead of a restaurant meal, and a sleeping bag under the stars instead of a luxury hotel room. Then again, the ubiquitous mosquitos, continuous camp chores, and constant dictates of the weather (too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet, too …), all ensure that I appreciate the safety and comforts back home.