Old Voyageur Channel Loop
Total Distance: 68 km
Duration: 5 days (though it could be done in 3)
Number of Portages: 2 (more if water levels are low)
Total Portage Distance: 340 m
Level of Difficulty: Novice (though wind on Georgian Bay can make that section difficult)
Maggie was experiencing her first night of backcountry canoe camping and loving the views and wonderful feeling that one can only get in the Ontario wilderness.
We soon arrived at Petite Faucille Rapids. Even though it could be lined easily, travelling in a large group, we chose to do the short 10-meter lift-over that traverses the large rock to the left of the chute.
When Shawn, Liam, Declan and I began to situate ourselves next to the fire pit to have a moment of relaxation, I heard my dad call out to us to check out a snake that had wandered into the site.
While I was well aware of the fact that we were camping in Massasauga Rattler territory, I didn't mention it to anyone before that point, for fear of alarming my daughters in particular. They are a notoriously shy species (the snakes, not my daughters!) and I never thought we'd actually come across one. Well, it was too late for that, because that was exactly the snake that slithered into camp.
Looking at the map, it appeared as if we could take a shortcut through a backchannel creek that would lead us to the end of the Cross Channel and out to Whitefish Bay. However, after a good 15 minutes of paddling, we hit a dead end. It was an area clogged with alder. I'm sure we could have bushwhacked through it to get to the Cross Channel, but with 8 people and some inexperienced trippers in tow, it just wasn't going to happen. Besides, with the conditions the way they were, we felt pretty safe heading back out onto the big water.
So, we backtracked and found a passage leading us past site 723 and out into the bay. We could see the wind turbines in the distance to the east. The water remained amazingly calm. It was already 10:30 am and this giant body of water was like glass. It was an incredible paddling experience.
Also, at the take-out, immediately on our right, were the ruins of an alligator. It looked to be the boiler for the steam engine. The logging industry was massive on the French River from 1870 to 1920. The aforementioned village that we passed below Dalles Rapids had a population of 1000 people at one point. It's now a ghost town.
After just a few minutes of paddling, we came upon the remainder of the alligator submerged on the right of the river.