My wife and I took our kayaks out on a 3 day 2 night trip on Georgian bay back in June. I heard from a retired co-worker about a good novice paddling route out to Franklin Island which is just north of Parry Sound on Georgian Bay. I thought this would be a great first trip out on some ‘big’ water with our kayaks as my wife is not that strong of a paddler yet. We looked at my wife’s work schedule and found a stretch from Thursday to Saturday where we could take the trip so I booked some time off and we started planning.
The plan for this trip was to launch our kayaks at Snug Harbour, and head out to Franklin Island. The first day was going to be a fairly short paddle out to Henrietta point where I was told of a good site for camping which offers great sunset views and a thunder box (for when nature calls). For the second day, we planned on heading north up the west side of the island and either camping on the west or north side of the island (I didn’t know of any site, just figured we would find something). The third day would be our paddle back to our car on the “main land” either around the island or back the way we came depending on where we camp.
For meals, we decided to go with pre-packaged freeze dried meals (the type you find out outdoors stores like MEC or REI). We brought along my Emberlit titanium wood stove as well as a small grate to cook over the campfire. For utensils we brought an MSR titan kettle (essentially a 900ml titanium pot) a primus litech frying pan (which never got used), a couple light ziplock plastic bowls, and titanium sporks (light my fire style) and a couple optimus titanium long spoons (which are great for reaching into freeze dried food bags). Water filtration is always a must and for that we currently use an MSR Miniworks EX filter. It works great, but I think I’ll eventually switch to a gravity style filter instead to save a bit of weight. Along with the filter I like to bring some coffee filters to use as a pre-filter, as well as a collapsible bucket which is great because its light and folds down to a small size which fits in the filter bag.
I am currently loving hammocks for camping, but at the time we didn’t have one for my wife, so we brought along our MEC Wanderer 2 tent. We use Thermarest Prolite pads for our bottom insulation. Instead of sleeping bags, we used a home made Ray Jardine 2 person quilt. Its probably one of the ugliest things you’ll ever see but man is it warm (it was my first sewing project, and silnylon is very slippery to work with). For clothes, we pack light one pair shorts (bathing suit for me), one pair pants, two shirts, extra pair of socks, light weight sweater, rain jacket and a base layer for ‘just in case’ warmth which includes a merino wool beanie hat and a pair of wool gloves.
For tools, I brought along my Condor double bit Michigan style axe, since we were traveling in kayaks and I wouldn’t have to carry it. I also brought along my Bahco laplander saw, and of course my neck knife, which is an Eskabar that has a custom kydex sheath and a ferrocium rod attached. In our life jackets we always have whistles attached, and a fire kit / folding knife. This is a just in case measure. That pretty much sums up all our gear. Lets get to the actual trip.
Before we left home we checked the weather one last time and it looked beautiful for the whole weekend, no chance of rain at all. The drive to Snug Harbour was easy and we didn’t run into any complications. We first pulled into the restaurant, and asked where the public launch was. (It is a couple bucks per kayak to launch at the marina there) It turned out, the public docks were literally 1 minute down the road. The public docks is essentially just a big dock, but there are spots on either side where you can get two kayaks in the water. lots of room to load up and push off. Just up the road there is free public parking for overnight trips, and we were told its very secure BUT it fills up quick on the weekends. We were there on a Thursday so only one other car was parked at the time. There are two parking lots, the one closest to the water is for residents, so non-residents have to park at the further lot.
We launched from the docks, and headed north between Snug Island and the main land which brought us through a narrow channel. After this we ended up taking a bit of a long route out to the island because I got a bit turned around. Looking at the maps, I thought the island was further out then it was, when I saw it in person I thought “nah, that can’t be the island, its too close!”. well… it was the island. As we were paddling in the wrong direction, I could just feel that we were off course, so once I got out my compass and took a bearing, we were back on course. We found the site just past Henrietta point, and unloaded the kayaks. In short order we had our site all set up, with our tent on a flat piece of rock (its all rocks, so you look for the flattest one) for tie-outs we used smaller rocks attached to the tie out points with some mason line.
Once camp was set up and I had some firewood collected for later on, we decided to go for a swim. My wife slowly slowly got into the water, while I just jumped in. It took a few seconds for my heart to get going again (IT WAS COLD!) but once it did I surfaced and swam a bit before getting out. We saw a 3-4 foot water snake hanging out on the rocks right where we were swimming as we were drying off.
Before dinner we decided to take the kayaks out for a little paddle, and explore some of the bays that run into the island. It was good to just get out and paddle without a destination. We went into the first inland area, and saw a hawk, a turtle, which the wife and dog got nice and close before it abandoned its log. further in I ‘almost’ got a good picture of a great blue heron perched in a big dead tree. But it started flying away as soon as I got the camera up. It was getting a bit dark, so we turned around and paddled back to camp, where we prepared dinner and got some great pictures of the sunset.
The Night was uneventful, we slept ok, but my back was still stiff in the morning, which is to be expected sleeping on a rock. I have to admit, I was really missing my hammock! We packed up camp and set out for our days paddle. We didn’t know exactly where we would be camping, but we had an idea of the area. The day was filled with lots of paddling, and lots of great views.
We had a lot of fun paddling through / around all the rock islands and pathways between them. We found a few good campsites earlier on in the day, but obviously wanted to keep paddling for most of the day, so we continued on. Unfortunately we didn’t find any suitable sites to camp at along the north shore, so we kept paddling on as it got later in the day. My wife was completely exhausted and I started to paddle ahead to try and find a spot to camp for the night. we eventually made our way around the north side and around to the east side of the island before we found a suitable spot for camp. We did a total distance around 16 to 17 kilometers, so it was a good day of paddling, just a bit too much for my wife. We had a nice breeze rolling through the site, so it kept it cool even with the sun and hot weather we were enjoying. We both jumped in the lake for a quick swim to cool down, and then prepared some dinner over a small fire. We didn’t stay up late, but we did sit around the fire for a while before hitting the sack. I managed to get a picture of a water iris that I thought turned out nice (at least, that’s what I think it is).
The night was uneventful, and in the morning we were lucky enough to witness a dragon fly hatch. I guess during the night the nymphs crawled out of the lake onto the rocks. Once the sun came out the dragonfly’s emerged out of the skins. They then proceeded to crawl to a spot on the rock which had direct sunlight and a slight breeze to dry out. There was a line of the new dragonflies all along an edge. then about an hour or two later, they started to fly off. My wife spent a lot of time watching them and filming part of the process as I packed up camp and got ready for the paddle back to the car.
Since we made it around the top part of the island we decided to continue down the east side of the island back to the car. This was a 6-8km stretch and it was into the wind the whole way which made it a bit harder paddle. We made it back to the car, packed up and headed home.
Georgian bay is a beautiful spot to paddle, and Franklin Island was definitely worth the trip out there. its close enough to shore for it to be a great trip for novice paddlers. If you are an experienced paddler and have a couple extra days, you can extend the trip out to the Mink and McCoy islands. While out there, we found a few more great sites along the West side of the island and we definitely plan on going back there again in the future.
I’ll leave you with an ugly mug shot of myself taken on the water, I attempted to get both myself and my wife in the picture by holding the camera out about 4 times and every single time my head was in the way of my wife. At least I got the dog in the picture though 😉