Trip Reports

French River 2019 Trip Report

French River 2019 Trip Report

French River 2019 116Our 10 day trip started on Sat Jul 27 and we returned Mon Aug 5. It included Henry N (trip leader), Mike B, Xuan Q and Cory D. This was my (Cory) first time on the French River, with the other three having been to the area many times.

We had an amazing trip, with great weather and calm waters. Each day included some easy paddling, swimming, lots of relaxing and nightly campfires. I also enjoyed some fishing, photography, listening to podcasts, reading Dune by Frank Herbert, and watching the show Zone Blanche/Black Spot which I had downloaded from Netflix to my phone. I might not have had a toilet, running water or electricity, but there was no shortage of things to do!

For a funny story, read about the "barrel challenge" on day 9, which was a great way to end the trip.



Day 1 - We all met at Mike's house, loaded Mike's canoe onto Xuan's car and were on the road shortly after 7am. After a few rest stops along the way, we arrived at Hartley Bay Marina. We picked up permits, loaded boats and were on the water around 1pm.

 French River 2019 101

Loading canoes at Hartley Bay Marina

We paddled through Hartley Bay to Wanapitei Bay, with Henry telling me about the area as we paddled. The winds picked up and looked like it would rain, so we headed to a campsite on the shore, arriving around 3pm. Xuan did a great job setting up a tarp as the rain started.

 French River 2019 102

Henry and Cory drying off

 French River 2019 103

Day 2 - We awoke to a beautiful morning, and after breakfast and packing we were on the water. It was a great day for paddling as we travelled south to the Western Channel, past Pig Island and Crombie Bay. The wind picked up a bit as we arrived. We set up camp, had some lunch, enjoyed some swimming, napping and relaxing.

 French River 2019 104

Mike paddling as we left Wanapitei Bay

 French River 2019 105

Henry and Cory doing dinner dishes after Xuan's yummy dinner

 French River 2019 106

Kind of a creepy picture. Mike was playing with night photography while Xuan sat by the campfire.

Day 3 - Another beautiful morning, o the water around 8:30am. Because of high water levels, paddling through the Old Voyageur Channel was easy, with just one carry over. While trying to take a picture at the portage, I slipped and fell in the water, scraping my leg and almost dropping my camera in the water. Luckily both my leg and camera were ok!

We continued West along the Western Cross Channel, past Green Island. The afternoon wind picked up as we headed south-west into Green Island Bay and found a site. After setting up camp and having lunch, we all headed for a nap. While in our tents a storm came through with high winds, rain and thunder. The storm stopped in time for dinner, then I explored the island, Xuan collected firewood, and Mike and Henry relaxed and enjoyed the sunset as it peaked through the clouds. We had a nice campfire, with a large stone someone had placed acting as a windbreak, with good chats and stories until after midnight.

 French River 2019 107

Morning view from my waterfront campsite.

 French River 2019 108

French River 2019 109

Mike and Xuan paddling through the Old Voyageur Channel

 French River 2019 110

 French River 2019 111

Beautiful sunset as the clouds began to clear

Day 4 - We spent the morning paddling East through the islands to the Southern Western tip of Green Island Bay, and exploring channels leading to Georgian Bay. Along the way we took lots of photos and videos using Cory's GoPro.

The rest of the sunny day was relaxing, with Xuan finding a rattlesnake near his tent! Before bed Mike took some amazing night sky photos.

 French River 2019 112

 French River 2019 113

Henry and Xuan consulting maps while exploring routes through the islands

 French River 2019 114

 French River 2019 115

 French River 2019 116

Beautiful shot of the night sky and Milky Way

Day 5 - We spent the morning paddling West through Batt Bay, checking out some of the campsites at the Western edge of the park. Due to high water levels, we were able to paddle through some areas normally not accessible.

 French River 2019 117

Henry looking his best

Day 6 - Woke to very calm waters. After breakfast we packed up and loaded the canoes. While waiting for Mike and Xuan to load their canoe, I caught two good sized smallmouth bass. I released the first one, but the second larger one got free before we could net it.

We paddled north on Green Island Bay, through the Fort Channel past "The Mailbox", past the Bad River Channel and camped at a site on The Fingerboards. The water was very calm and almost no wind, which made the paddle very easy.

I chose to setup my tent away from the group near a beautiful stream, with a view of Georgian Bay. Surprisingly we had good cell phone reception, so I was able to give some of my family a call which was nice.

 French River 2019 118

Calm waters near Georgian Bay

Day 7 - Leisurely start to the day, followed by a day paddle. We paddle North on the Bad River Channel/Boat Channel, seeing lots of boats anchored in the bay near Devil Door Rapids. Because of high water levels, all of the rapids in the area were washed out, which allowed us to paddle through Devil Door Rapids. We paddle to Lovers Lane, then up Crooked Rapids. As we were deciding whether to paddle down Lily Chutes, and motor boat came down, which made going back down Lily Chutes an easy decision!

We continued East through the Easter Cross Channel, with two short lift overs, which was less than normal. The wind had started to pick up, so we took the inner passage through the islands along Georgian Bay.

 French River 2019 119

Xuan, Mike and Henry enjoying dinner

Day 8 - We were up and on the water early in hopes of getting a site on Obstacle Island. We went east through the Eastern channel past Whitefish Bay and Sand Bay, across to Obstacle Island. Along the way I caught a good sized smallmouth bass, which Xuan happily put in a large pot between his legs. I started a small campfire and cooked the fish, which was a nice treat before lunch.

It was a bit hard finding a flat spot to setup my tent. There were lots of blueberries, which Henry and Xuan spent the afternoon filling containers of them to take home.

 French River 2019 120

Beautiful morning at my site facing Georgian Bay

 French River 2019 121

 French River 2019 122

 French River 2019 123

Interesting tree Xuan pointed out to me. What looks like the root of one tree grew into the trunk of a tree beside it.

Day 9 - We were up and on the water early (at least Henry and I were!) as we knew finding a site on the long weekend would be tough. We paddled north, with two easy 50m and 10m portages into Bass Lake. We continued through the Easter Outlet through "The Elbow", then north into the Main Outlet to Wanitipei Bay, finding the site we wanted.

After lunch we decided to have the "barrel challenge", with the winner getting an extra homemade gingerbread cookie. At the beginning of the trip Henry had questioned whether my barrel was a 60L barrel, the size of the club barrel. We couldn't find the size stamped on the barrel, but I was sure it was a 55-60L barrel. So we emptied both barrels, filled mine with water then poured into the club barrel. To Henry's surprise my barrel was within litres of the club barrel, with Mike and Xuan declaring me the victor. Not wanting to be a sore loser, Henry had saved his cookie from lunch, so we both enjoyed our cookies together.

 French River 2019 124

Mike and Xuan paddling out of the first portage

 French River 2019 125

Day 10 - Wanting to get to the marina before the crowds, Henry and I made record time, catching up to and passing 5 other canoes in the process!

 French River 2019 126

Beautiful sunrise on Wanitipei Bay