Canoeing might just be one ofthemost Canadian activities. Being from western Canada, and having more experience with thepeaks of the Rockiesthan the lakes of Ontario, we thought it might be tough to plan our route.
After a Facebook shout out and atrip to MEC, my partner and I collected the necessary maps, gear and our fiberglass utility canoe, packed it all in our little VW Golf and headed north.
Leaving the smog of Toronto behind we battled our way through cottage traffic upHighway 400. We passed through places Ive only heard of in folk songs like Port Severn and Parry Sound, all of which were beautifully nestled along the shores of Georgian Bay. We arrived at the George Lake Park office in the early evening, eager to get our canoe in the water and set off.
Braving rain and with darkness coming, we paddled quickly for an hour to the backcountry campsite closest to our early morning portage. We set up camp, rehydrated supper and settled in, the next day was to be a full one with 4 portages and a 20km journey to go.
In the morning with a sprinkle of rain we carried our 60L packs all of 80m along a rocky stream into Freeland Lake. We paddled across the shallow, narrow lake and saw 3 black bears sauntering along the rocky shoreline. After the next 300m uphill portage, we entered the clear, calm waters of Killarney Lake, a popular long-weekend destination. Each campsite seemed perfectly placed on little islands or atop small cliffs overlooking the water. The inhabitants still drinking their morning coffee lakeside, they smiled, we waved, and on we went.
The trek between Killarney and Three Narrows Lake was one of the most character-building, relationship-testing, physically challenging experiences weve had together. Into the bush swatting mosquitoes and blackflies, slipping in the now rain-soaked trail, I heaved both packs while my partner balanced the canoe on his shoulders. We stopped many times, we laughed, we made bear calls, we enjoyed lunch sitting on rotting tree stumps and truly embraced our 2.9km uphill journey. After a short paddle and one last quick portage, we made it to Three Narrows to search for the perfect campsite.
As the sun finally broke through the clouds and the sky turned a thousand shades of pink, we pitched our tent on top of a rocky outcropping. Our campsite was about 1km away from any other so we never heard from our neighbors. The site was outfitted with a fire pit and a well-placed toilet seat so I could look out at the stunning rock faces and lake waters while doing my business.
We truly found stillness in the wild and spent another two days exploring the area, bushwhacking, skinny dipping,falling in lovewith Ontario sunsets and being coaxed to sleep by the coarse call of the bullfrogs.
When we made it back to the car after 4 days, we cranked up the radio and belted out Tragically Hip songs the whole way back to the city – a fully Canadian adventure complete.