Thursday, July 3, 2008

Foster Island Stories #2

Two more days of paddling around Foster Island and its neighbouring rocky islets awaited after our surprise pike dinner on night one. Here are some of the highlights:

Amy battles her way into a stiff headwind on our second-last day out. The paddle to Foster Island is relatively sheltered, but there are a number of areas, like here in Burritt's Bay, where you'll find yourself fully exposed to the prevailing west wind, which creates a playful chop in the relatively shallow water. But watch out for the rocks. Also, I'm told that it's bad luck to sing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" at the top of your lungs when the wind is up like this. So don't.

The Gereaux Island lighthouse, built in 1880, was manned for a remarkably long time. In 1989, the last keeper finally descended from his perch for good. Now this old wooden beauty, still active, is maintained by the coast guard as part of a rescue station. It's a familiar landmark to paddlers heading toward Foster Island, as it marks the place you turn south and weave your way through the tricky rocks and shoals of the Magnetawan Ledges. The south side of Gereaux Island is also blessed with remarkable camping, and we often stay here on our last night out.

Here is one of those great Gereaux Island sites. You can forget staking a tent down here, but there are plenty of boulders to tether your shelter to. Just before paddling back to Britt for the long ride home, we sat in the early morning sun here and watched a Blanding's turtle in action, slowly (even for a turtle) hunting crawfish at the edge of the water, then busily stirring up the muck on the bottom. All the while he carried a clam, which he appeared to be saving for brunch, in his back claw.

As the day heated up, we felt the usual sadness at having to shuffle away from the silent mysteries of this unique corner of Georgian Bay and back to our busy city lives. But we intend to return soon. And it's comforting to know that nothing will have changed.

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