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 Post subject: French River Route
PostPosted: July 10th, 2020, 2:40 pm 
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I'm planning a trip with my sons to French River in August. We have paddled around Algonquin and Killarney quite a bit but never near a big body of water like Georgian Bay. Looking at a 4 day route that takes us from Hartley Bay down the Western Edge through the Five Fingers to Georgian Bay, then east to Bass lake and north back to Hartley.

Most of route looks fine, except for the stretch from Five Fingers to Bass Lake. On the maps I see a route that runs parallel to Georgian Bay from Five Fingers to Sand Bay. Would that be the safer bet vs the open water of Georgian Bay or does it really just depend on the weather? I would hate to miss some beautiful scenery along the edge of Georgian Bay, just not sure about what to expect for conditions.


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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: July 11th, 2020, 7:14 am 
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Haven't looked at the map for the more sheltered inside passage vs the more exposed open coast, but will say that GB water levels are back up, making shallow-water travel behind islands and in bays easier. Previously in low water many of the channels were dry, making liftovers and ports necessary when maps (made at a different time) indicated clear going.

You'll probably want some time spent out in the open GB water for those long views and sunsets, so if it's calm, time well spent. So is time spent in the shallow back bays and inlets, often free of motorboat traffic that's making noise in the deeper water areas.

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: July 11th, 2020, 7:27 am 
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If by Five Fingers you mean the various outlets at the bottom of the Western Channel, then yes there is a cross-channel you can use that makes for drama-free paddling on a stormy G’Bay day. It is made up of two sections -

1. from Black Bay at the west end to Devil’s Door Rapids 3.2 km.
2. from the bay below Devil’s Door Rapids to Whitefish Bay4.4 km.

Image


Once at Whitefish Bay, if it is stormy you can use the long narrow islands running alongside the main channel to get up to Bluff Point. Then there are lots of islands that will provide you with some windscreen as you make your way across to Bass Creek.

See the two following posts for more info and some pix -

Across The French River Delta From East To West

The Cross-Channel From the West End of FRPP To Whitefish Bay

You ask -

Would that be the safer bet vs the open water of Georgian Bay? Yes

or does it really just depend on the weather? Yes

I would hate to miss some beautiful scenery along the edge of Georgian Bay, just not sure about what to expect for conditions. Time will tell!

The French River delta is the probably the most scenic spot I’ve ever paddled! Enjoy your trip and a string of windless days! And if it is too windy for your comfort level, there is that cross-channel and countless islands to deke behind!

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: July 12th, 2020, 12:26 pm 
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Thanks @frozen_tripper and @true_north. That channel east of the Bad River Channel is exactly the one I was looking at.

Thanks for the blog post suggestion. I stumbled across those posts when we started looking for trip ideas, part of the reason I'm really looking forward to the trip. I'll be sure to post a trip report once we are back.


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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: July 13th, 2020, 6:22 am 
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Reading on the weekend that GB water levels are up seven feet above the 2013 lows.

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: July 13th, 2020, 8:25 am 
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We did the are that TN map shows last year---spectacular. Bonus---with the high water level 'Devil's Door was barely a swift. It's too bad that you don't have more time to explore that whole area. IMO it is the very best of all the great area out on the bay.

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: July 13th, 2020, 8:52 am 
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wotrock wrote:
We did the are that TN map shows last year---spectacular. Bonus---with the high water level 'Devil's Door was barely a swift. It's too bad that you don't have more time to explore that whole area. IMO it is the very best of all the great area out on the bay.


Based on everything I have read about the area this will be the first of hopefully many trips there.


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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: August 31st, 2020, 7:40 am 
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Trip report?

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: August 31st, 2020, 9:08 am 
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We were there in the last week of July and went down Big Jameson "rapids". Water must have been high because it was also barely a swift. We got lucky on GB.. it was like glass.


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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: August 31st, 2020, 10:39 am 
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The map view I posted above has rapid names in the wrong place! Not sure how that happened since the map view is from the Natural Resources Canada Toporama webiste.

It has Little jameson Rapids north of the Cross-Channel and has Devil's Door Rapids where the actual Little jameson Rapids are!

Here is the correct locations of the various rapids at the top of the Bad River Channel -

Image

Canoe Daddy - isn't it great when G'Bay is so glassy calm!

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: August 31st, 2020, 11:09 am 
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When we were there last year there was so little current that i am not sure where it was.

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2020, 2:29 pm 
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TRIP REPORT

My two boys (13 and 16) and myself visited French River Aug 14 - 17. We have done a fair amount of paddling in Algonquin and Killarney and were looking forward to exploring some new spots. The trip was a little earlier than we typically go (normally late August to avoid the bugs).

Trip Route 55 kms total:
- Hartley Bay to the Western Channel, down to Georgian Bay, across to Bass Lake and back to Hartley Bay.
Attachment:
trip-map.jpg


Day 1: 15 kms
- Arrived at Hartley Bay around 12:30pm, in the water by 1pm. Staff was super friendly and helpful. I was surprised at how busy the marina was.
- Weather was fantastic, 30C, almost no clouds, a little breeze from the south.
- Padding was easy the entire way down the main channel and into the western channel.
- There was more boat traffic than we had expected, a fair number of sea doos on the western channel. Apparently that's the best route out to Georgian Bay for local cottagers.
- We had planned to find a spot around Pig Island to stop for day 1. By the time we hit site 700 we were starting to run out of steam, 3 hours off paddling in the perfect weather had sapped our energy.
- We stopped at site 705. Great site, nice views to the south and west. Fire pit was nice and open.
- The sun had done a number on myself and the 13 year old, we needed some down time to get our energy levels back up. We forgot to put sun screen on before starting out from Hartley Bay, our exposed knee caps paid the price!
- Had a scare from a rattle snake while looking for some fire wood. Hearing that rattle gets the heart rate going pretty quickly
- Site was relatively bug free through out the night
Attachment:
site-705.jpg


Day 2: 20 kms
- Up at 7am and a slow start to the morning, hit the water by 10am.
- Another perfect day of weather.
- A pleasant paddle down the Western Channel. Really interesting seeing the landscape change as you get closer to Georgian Bay, the rocks become more exposed, trees bent over. The Canadian Shield on full display.
- The water levels were medium (according to the people at Hartley Bay), we could see it was down four or five feet from the high water marks on the rocks.
- We spotted a canoe in the distance to the south of us. They seemed to be zig zagging across the river, we figured they were from a local cottage just paddling around.
- Stopped just before the 5 Fingers for a break, 16 year old caught a few nice pike.
Attachment:
western-channel-pike.jpg

- We were hoping the water levels would allow us to paddle right down the 5 Fingers without needing to portage. We had never run any rapids before and wanted to get our feet a little wet, but only figuratively.
- We came down the eastern edge of the 5 Fingers through a few small channels and light rapids just before the Crooked Rapids.
- Video entering 5 Fingers https://photos.app.goo.gl/nCyiemY1TvjkphWCA
- The canoe we had seen earlier was slowly making it's way through the same spot. We said hi and kept padding on.
- We stopped above Crooked Rapids to get a look, the canoe we had passed pulled up and we chatted for a bit. They had just moved to Ontario from Calgary and were out on their first canoe trip (no hats, no sun glasses and looking very tired). We checked out the rapids together, they looked pretty easy so we decided to paddle through, no problems.
- The south wind was picking up so we decided to follow the channel just north of Georgian Bay across to Whitefish Bay. Lots of twists and turns, an extra lift over at a beaver dam part way through.
- We had planned to stop at Whitefish Bay for day 2 but the weather report was showing some thunder storms for the 16 and 17th rolling in off the bay so we decided to push closer to Bass Lake to be less exposed to the storms.
- Georgian Bay had some small white caps as we made our way across WhiteFish and Sand Bay. We stayed close to the shore and stayed inside the small line of islands along Sand Bay that lead back into the main channel. Those island provided some perfect shelter and much needed rest. We coasted along while the boys fished. Caught a few nice small mouth bass.
Attachment:
sand-bay.jpg

- We pushed hard in the wind across the bay to site 717. It took us a bit to find the site, we were looking on the wrong side of the island. 717 is not a great site. The main site area is really low and muddy, very buggy, no thunder box to be found. On the plus side, the were a lot of trees to provide shelter from the storm and provide good anchors for some tarps.
- The south side of the island is elevated with a really nice fire pit and great views of Georgian Bay
- Just before sunset the boys went to find a spot to dig a hole since we couldn't find a thunder box, another rattle snake.
Attachment:
site-717.jpg


Day 3: 15 kms
- Woke up to rain just after midnight, rain and very windy pretty much all night.
- The rain made getting out of a cozy sleeping bag difficult. Thankfully the trees and tarps kept us relatively dry.
- The weather broke at 11 am so we packed up quickly and hit the water hoping to get a few hours of paddling in before the storms came back.
- The plan was to head north up Bass Creek and Bass Lake and if the weather cooperated make it to sites 623/624 above Dalles Rapids.
- Bass Lake was like glass, absolutely beautiful. We ran into a couple heading south at the portage from Bass Creek into Bass Lake.
Attachment:
bass-lake.jpg

- The skies continued to clear over the next few hours, we stopped for lunch at site 623. A lot of canoes coming and going from the Dalles Rapids.
- We decided to keep heading north to take advantage of the nice weather, thinking site 621 or 618 would be a good spot to stop for the day.
- 621 was full, so was 618, 617, 616, 615, 614, 611 and 610 ... that wasn't expected
- It was starting to look like we might be paddling all the way back to Hartley Bay, thankfully site 609 was free. It was a fantastic site. Nice sandy beach area, big clear spot for the tent and some nice exposed rocks to lay out the tent and tarps on to dry out.
- The sandy ground made for some very comfortable sleeping.
- Watched a thunder storm rolled in from the west and pass across to the north east, lots of lightning. Glad to miss getting caught in that mess.
Attachment:
site-609.jpg


Day 4: 5 kms
- Since we had paddled a lot further than expected and the weather was fantastic again we enjoyed a lazy morning and way to many pancakes before a short paddle back to Hartley Bay.
Attachment:
day-4-breakfast.jpg


Overall the trip was amazing. The scenery was fantastic, paddling was nice and relaxed (vs going across some bigger lakes in Algonquin against the wind) and the lack of portages was a beautiful thing. A GPS is a must have to help navigate the area around Georgian Bay, so many little islands and channel it would be very easy to get lost.

Already looking at the map for some route ideas for next year.


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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: September 7th, 2020, 7:53 am 
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Well done!

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: September 8th, 2020, 8:20 am 
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Looks like you had a great trip---thx for posting. Lot's more adventures to be had out in the delta for sure! We went up and down the five Fingers several times last year and didn't need to portage. Love those narrow channels, trying to guess which way the river turns next.

Agree on GPS. Rather than always looking at the map and missing the scenery as a consequence, we check the GPS occasionally. We have a pretty good idea of where we are anyway. Smartphone topo maps are usually faster than a dedicated GPS because of the touch screen.

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 Post subject: Re: French River Route
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2020, 9:55 am 
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Canoe Daddy - isn't it great when G'Bay is so glassy calm![/quote]


Indeed...Awesome to be on that size of water and so calm.


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