Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thomas Bay, Georgian Bay, Ontario

August 1 - 3, 2008

Killarney generally marks the crossove point between the North Channel and the Georgian Bay sections of Lake Huron. As we headed eastward out of Killarney, we got a good view of the customer docks. We also got a great view of the Killarney East Lighthouse to which we had hiked. Whereas the North Channel geology is mostly white quartzine, granite, and limestone, the Georgian Bay coast is pink granite and veins of white quartzite. There are also various other types of rocks that the glaciers deposited. This area has some of the oldest rocks on earth -- created by some billion year old geologic and climactic events.

Georgian Bay is sometimes referred to as the sixth Great Lake. It probably would have been made it to Great Lake status if they could have worked the "G" into the HOMES acronym (HOMES = Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).

We had two possible anchorages selected: Dufois Bay and Thomas Bay. Both offered good protection from wind and waves and seemed to have good hiking and kayaking potential. Bernie voted for Dufois since the Great Lakes Cruising Club (GLCC) Notes said that bears have been seen on the shore. Phil was voting for Thomas Bay because the GLCC Notes said that bears have been seen on the shore of Dufois Bay. Thomas Bay seemed to have more all-around protection and be a little more scenic so we chose Thomas. Thomas Bay's entrance is tricky and the GLCC notes, charts, and GPS certainly helped out. As we have become "experts" at tying up to a tree, we started setting up for that anchoring style again. After we finished anchoring and tying to shore, we noticed that the sailboat GDay was there. We'd been running into them (figuratively, not literally) periodically since Long Point Cove. Since they'd seen us anchor before, they wisely took off in their dinghy when we started to anchor -- not wanting to witness the Meridian's crew's latest anchoring escapade.

At least Phil has stopped fiddling with the anchor. Now he fiddles with the shore lines. At Thomas Bay he decided that one of the trees didn't look strong enough to hold Meridian so he moved the line. Then he added another line to a different tree just in case beavers came and toppled the first tree. You can never be too careful! He only stopped to take a periodic BLUEBERRY break.

When we were done and it was safe for the other boaters to return to the bay, we dinghyed over and introduced ourselves to the GDay boat. John, Joan and Waylon the Mountain Climbing Wonderdog are from Michigan in the summer and Georgia in the winter. That evening we did a campfire with them on one of the small rock outcroppings.

Although no bear or moose were sighted, wildlife abounds in the Thomas bay area. On one of our hikes, we saw a ruffed grouse. We also saw a mink along the shore one morning. Although, it wasn't until after we bought a book entitled "Up North" (and its sequel "Up North Again") that we were able to figure out what we saw. Both books give great detailed information about mammals, birds, fish, insects, plants, trees, and weather in this area. A fellow cruiser recommended it and now we recommend it, too.

Thomas Bay is not far from the Chikanishing River in Killarney Provincial Park. We had heard there was a river a little ways up and we tried to find it in the kayak without benefit of GPS, but instead, kept finding inlets that we THOUGHT were rivers but turned into coves. We also saw a good number of campsites where people had canoed or kayaked in. We went back with John and Waylon the Wonder dog using our dinghy, their speedy gas engine, and a GPS and found it.

The Chikanashing River access point seems to be a launch site for some organized canoe camping trips. We saw a group go off on their adventure. There is a very nice hiking trail that can be done with non-skid sandals but would be easier with hiking boots, that goes up the bluff and along the river out to Georgian Bay. It offers spectacular views of the Georgian Bay area.

Thomas Bay can fill up, though. When we arrived, there were only three boats, including us. By the time we left, there were over a dozen.

Thomas Bay is a great introduction to Georgian Bay. We enjoyed it so much we spent three nights there (or maybe it was just all the effort we knew was waiting for us when it came time to untie all those shorelines that Phil kept adding). It made us want to explore more of this area perhaps next year.

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