Journal of Darren McGinnis - Outdoor Adventurer
Journal Entries: Darren's
2003 July 2003
Marie, Ontario to Port Severin, Ontario.
19th to August 19th
St. Mary's River, The North Channel, & Georgian Bay.
It just occurred to me that it was this very same day last year,
(Aug. 25) that I departed Thunder Bay to travel to and also down
The Mississippi River. I have been making myself nervous off and
on lately about whether or not I will have enough time to beat
winter and make it all the way to The Big Apple. I am planning
about a week long stop over in Toronto to visit friends and family
and have been doubting whether or not that is a prudent
idea. I guess I am worrying myself for nothing though because if I
can successfully start out this time of year from T.Bay, I should
have no problem at all starting out this time of year from
Ok, here's the skinny. I realize it took me a month to go from
Sault St. Marie to Port Severin, located on the south-east end of
Georgian Bay. The fact is, I really spent fourteen days in The
Sault area for various reasons.
Once I got going again, I paddled from The St. Mary's River to
Killarney in eight days, completing the voyage on The North
Channel of Lake Huron. From Killarney, I paddled another seven
days, with one day off, to Port Severin, completing Lake Huron's
Georgian Bay. Now I think I understand why my subconscious is in
turmoil regarding the remaining time needed to complete this trip.
Frankly though, I have no doubt in my mind that I will succeed in
reaching New York City. I have paddled roughly 1300 km. to get
here and have slightly less than that to go. As well, much of the
remaining km. will be
traveled on inland canals, rivers, and lakes which will make the
going much easier. I certainly can't complain about my experience
on the big bodies of water either. I feel that I was really lucky
this year because I had no real problems to deal with and the
weather was very accommodating. It most likely has to due
with the fact that I am just better at wilderness traveling and am
using substantially better gear this year. The water and
wind were still very good for me none the less.
During this leg of my journey, I enjoyed many good times on The
St. Mary's River. I stayed several days at Bell's Point
Campground. Although more expensive, I did meet many great people
and had a great deal of fun. I also
was visited there by my cousin Cory from Toronto on her way to
Manitoba for a month, which was nice to see a familiar face. I
made my way from there to Echo Bay and was swept up by some local
folks who were cool enough to take me to Toronto to the Sarsstock
Once back and away again, I started to make my way along the North
Shore of The North Channel. The first night out I ended up camping
in the yard of Mason Phelps. Mason was kind enough to let me use
his property, facilities, and even fed me dinner with all of his
other guests. I might add that Mason's summer home is a sprawling,
cliffside, multi-million dollar mansion!! The following day, I
floated beside a cruiser for awhile and drank scotch and waters.
Once I had left the cruiser and had set up camp on shore, I was
delighted to have left-overs arrive, compliments of the folks from
The day after that, despite the scotches, I paddled well into
darkness due to the fact I could not find a hospitable piece of
shoreline to make camp on. I finally came upon a camp on an island
and pulled in. I checked to see if anyone was home but there was
not. It looked as if the camp had not been opened for the year but
to my surprise, the door was unlocked. The beach was going to make
rocky, uncomfortable sleeping and there was also an overnight
thunderstorm in the forecast. I figured that nobody would be
around this late and they would probably not mind if I used there
couch instead. I would leave the camp in better condition than I
found it so I convinced myself that it would be OK. Around
midnight I was startled to hear voices and a boat motor being cut.
I quickly blew out the candles I was reading by and could make out
a boat creeping up to the shore with men's voices coming from it.
I do profess to be fairly hard to rattle but I would be lying to
say that I was not crapping my pants at this point. I was sort of
hoping that it was the police because I could at least avoid an
ass whopping then. I heard a man yell out that they saw my candles
and to come out. I obeyed and walked down to the beach. The man
asked what I was doing and I fumbled around for words to tell him
what I was up to and why I had decided to squat in his camp. He
informed me that they were staying on the other side of the island
at his parents camp and as long as I did not light a fire, was
welcome to stay the night where I was. I was extremely relieved to
hear this and thanked them profusely. As they were pulling away,
the man also added that I should come around the island the next
morning to have breakfast. I was surprised at how kind these
people treated their burglars and said that I would indeed do
The other interesting things I experienced on The North Channel
was staying at The John Island YMCA. I was given a cabin for the
night and was fed dinner and breakfast with the councilors and
kids. I also stayed with Terry & Kay Gaffney at The Strawberry
Island Lighthouse built in 1884 near Little Current, Ontario.
Once reaching Killarney, Ontario, I was officially moving from The
North Channel to Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. The first night out,
I camped with a group of young people and we ate road-kill moose
meat all night. We cooked small pieces of meat over the fire on
sticks but basically, it was raw. Apparently raw moose meat is Ok
to eat and I did not have any adverse side affects. I have a
pretty solid guts I suppose because I drank all my water straight
out of the bodies of water and continued to do so on Georgian Bay
Once on Georgian Bay, I stayed in the bunkie of Les & Rea
Horst one night in Britt, Ontario. The Horsts are fanatical about
pugs and have one of their own named Lucy. Lucy has gotten quite
obese over her nine years and had outgrown her leather, studded,
biker outfit. The Horsts were kind enough to give it to Yoda as
they felt she would need to look tougher to go to New York. I also
stayed on "Summer Office", a yacht owned by Glen &
The only different wildlife I encountered during this leg, was
several mink that were quite bold in letting me watch them dive
for crayfish. Mink are exactly like ferrets only dark brown.
To sum up, my trip thus far has been virtually flawless. It is
much, much easier traveling in the summer rather than in the fall.
I was concerned about excessive heat but it has turned out to be
nothing but enjoyable. I was also concerned about insects during
the summer but they have turned out to be very little trouble. I
have not found the insects to be any worse than last year, during
September and October. So, I am happily looking forward to
paddling The Trent-Severin Waterway which is the next leg of my
journey. This waterway will encompass 400km, a marine railway, two
lift locks, 42 locks, will take me over the Atlantic Watershed as
well. I paddle upstream to Kirkland, Ontario and then from there
on I will be paddling downstream.
Till next time, cheers, d.
Darren the Kayaker & Yoda the Pug.
1-380 Shuniah St.
Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada P7A 3A6