Franklin and the Minks

A return to one of our favourite haunts on Georgian Bay, but this time with our daughter, Aisling accompanying us. On this occasion, Georgian Bay displayed a much kinder, gentler side of its personality than usual. Previously, trips out to the Minks have been characterized by a hard 7km slog against the prevailing Westerlies. On at least one occasion the gales exceeded our abilities and we had to settle for plan B for a weekend. On this trip however, the winds never seemed to exceed 10km/hr and at various times came from all four points of the compass.

Our trip began with a visit to White Squall outfitters to rent a kayak for Aisling. It was late in the day when we got there. It was the August long weekend and the traffic out of town had been really heavy. It was also probably the busiest weekend of the year for these guys, yet everything seemed to be a model of efficiency. We picked up our boat, which came supplied with all the necessary accoutrements (including a “squaler hauler” – a two-foot length of2x4 to be used as a ramp for hauling your kayak onto Georgian Bay’s rocky shores.)

We then headed back to the put-in at Gillies in Snug Harbour. When it came to packing the boats, the third kayak gave us a bit of extra room. So even though we were packing for a 4-day trip, we managed to get the boats in the water pretty quickly. The first leg of the trip was the short paddle across the Shebeshekong Channel to the bottom of Franklin Island. Given the late start, the plan was to camp somewhere around Henrietta Point. When we got there however, we found site after site had been taken. We had never seen the place so busy. We continued up the coast and settled on a spot around Windsor Island. Although it lacked curb appeal and the take-out was a bit of a challenge, the site was reasonably secluded and actually worked out very nicely. Dinner was followed by a spectacular sunset.

Next morning, we packed up for our trek out to Green Island, our landing spot in the Minks chain. Getting everything in the boats took just as long as the take-out the night before and the whole exercise was extended with Aisling’s discovery of a large female wolf spider carrying her spiderlings on her back. Needless to say, a subject such as this had to be studied, photographed and fully researched before we could finally put the boats in the water and get under way.

The trip over to Green is about 6.5km across open water, but on this occasion with the wind behind and to the North of us – an easy crossing. All we had to do was to aim north a bit to compensate for the southward drift. We made landfall in under 90 mins.

Even out here, it was busier than usual, with three parties on Green itself. We were sufficiently spread out though, that it felt like we had the place to ourselves most of the time. Later in the afternoon, the weather closed in and we had some rain. It cleared up in time however to provide another incredible sunset. (This trip was really memorable for the sunsets). Some rain again in the morning but it cleared up soon enough. We spent a couple of hours exploring the adjacent islands (Rapier, Wallbank, Goodkey etc.) on absolutely still waters under clear skies. It might have been the Caribbean, with fresh water instead of salt, and smooth rock for sand. The word ‘paradise’ was used a lot.

We could have dallied here forever, but finally, it came time to head back to Franklin. After extensive debate about bearings and landmarks, we finally settled on a target to aim for and made our way across. This time, we were going to explore further up the west coast of Franklin, in the vicinity of Speers or Winkler Island. Again, we had an easy crossing, landing directly on Winkler. It’s Monday now, but there is still a fair amount of activity in the area. We explored the area around our landing spot and decided it was our ideal location for the night, with some spectacular views from headlands next to our site.

It’s hot now, and all activity is punctuated with quick dunks in the water to cool off. The evening was capped off with another incredible sunset followed by stargazing and satellite and meteor spotting. Denise and I retired for the night while Aisling persevered in trying to turn the local frog into a superstar by allowing itself to be photographed catching a mosquito with its tongue. Ultimately in vain however; The frog apparently valued its anonymity.

The trip back to Snug Harbour was only about 7.5km so there was plenty of time on Tuesday for goofing off. Aisling and I tried rolling the kayaks. Aisling successfully. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ll be booking some pool sessions again this fall. After a slow and reluctant pack-up, we headed back to Snug, motivated only by the thought of a cold beer and fish and chips at Gillies.

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Wolf spider and her brood

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Camp site at Winker

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The ceremonial paddle-toss

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You can gets lots into three kayaks!

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A weekend of sunsets

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Father channels Chuck Berry

Ais & Camera