We left Midland for a third time and decided that we needed to make some serious progress. It would have been lovely to go back and anchor again at Beckwith and spend the night but we were starting to feel some pressure to get across the Georgian Bay. The Small Craft Route winds up past Beausoleil Island and Honey Harbor past lots of cute little towns and bays to anchor in. But since we’d already been to Beausoleil Island and Honey Harbor we decided to cut straight across the bay to the northwest and go all the way to Pointe au Baril. We anchored off Hopewell Island for the night. It was an easy trip and a relaxing night.
The next morning we set out towards the west. As we were winding our way out of the channel around Pointe au Baril we passed a lot of cute little cottages, many with boats or seaplanes since that is the only way to access them. I really wanted to duck into the Bad River for the night. We had been told to go there by multiple people and the pictures I had seen of the Bad River, Beaverstone Bay and the Collins Inlet were nothing short of breathtaking. We read a lot of reviews and information about Beaverstone Bay and Collins Inlet and determined that (as much as we are so SICK of saying this) in this boat we shouldn’t try it. There’s a very narrow, very shallow section where you make a sharp turn into the inlet and it’s charted right at about 5 feet. High water this year aside, not worth the risk this close to the end of our trip. But I still wanted to go into the Bad River. Some of our Looper friends had such a great time here and spent multiple days in anchorages picking blueberries and enjoying hiking on the rocks and having fun. But we skipped it and kept going towards Killarney. We also went past the Bustards and Strawberry Island which we’d read a lot about. I’m keeping a list for next summer of all the places I want to go back and see!
The water on the Bay was uncomfortable and getting worse. Winds were out of the south and blowing up the Bay. It’s like it’s own great lake – technically a part of Lake Huron – and it behaves as such. It was just turning into a miserable ride and we all just wanted to push through and get off the Georgian Bay. We haven’t sped up past about 9 kts. in a long time but Ben sped up some on this trip. All the waves were just smacking us on the beam. Without the stabilizer we would have been so unhappy. As it was we weren’t enjoying the trip. At last we finally made out the Killarney lighthouse! We safely pulled into Killarney and welcomed the protection from land around us. Phew. We pulled into the Killarney Mountain Lodge and prepared to relax for a couple of days. The marina is very nice, there are free paddleboards, kayaks and canoes for our use, lovely red Adirondack chairs on every dock and all over the property and a swimming pool! We checked ourselves in and were able to unwind. Ben set to work washing the boat while the girls made a beeline for the kayaks and paddleboards! Those are two items on our must purchase list. I hopped in a kayak too and off we went paddling around. It was sunny and close to 80. We soaked it up and enjoyed the rest of the day. For dinner we headed to the famous Fish and Chips joint for a local white fish dinner.
Sunday brought another fun day. We planned to spend all day at the Lodge and the girls were off the boat and on the paddleboards by 9 AM. Ben and I grabbed kayaks and all four of us went down river a bit. At this point Madelyn decided her arms were getting tired so she held onto my kayak and I pulled us both along. Then my arms were tired! It was another gorgeous day. We got to watch a seaplane take off right in front of us as we were in the kayaks. Pretty cool. After we were done there we headed to the pool for the afternoon. We finished off the day with dinner in the lodge.
Monday morning we set out for Baie Fine. Another not to be missed stop! We officially were off the Georgian Bay and into the North Channel. Baie Fine is absolutely gorgeous. We were the only boat around. We’ve decided that’s a double edged sword. It’s lovely to not have to fight for anchorage space or worry about swing room. But we were literally in the middle of nowhere with very little cell service and not a soul around. Instead of anchoring way back in the famous “pool” we just dropped anchor out in the bay. In a change of events Ben had a hard time finding a spot shallow enough to anchor! The bay is really deep. But he found a spot and got the dinghy down to head back in the bay. We spent awhile just cruising around. There are amazingly beautiful rocks in there. And a few very secluded cabins. In the back of the bay right before you head back to the pool there is a dinghy dock. We did see one fishing boat pulling out as we pulled in. Yay, people! We tied up and hopped off, ready for our hike up to Topaz Lake!
We headed up the rocky path along the mostly dried up creek bed. There was still a trickle every now and then but nothing we couldn’t walk right over. This whole area is part of Killarney Provincial Park. While it is pretty secluded, the trails are maintained. There are tiny trail markers as you go along. After 15 minutes or so we got to a tiny sign for Topaz Lake with an arrow pointing sort of to the left. We looked up a steep hill of all pine needles and thought that couldn’t be right so we kept on walking following the blue Killarney Provincial Park hiking path. We walked all the way to the end up some seriously steep hills and got to a lake. Topaz Lake! Except it was ugly and weedy and not at all the incredible gem everyone had described. Hmmm. We found the tiniest sliver of cell service and got Google Maps to pull up. We had hiked to Three Narrows Lake.
So we turned around and hiked back to the tiny sign we saw a ways back. Yep, still pointing up the pine needle hill but we walked up that way and what do you know, yellow markers for Topaz Lake. So, we just got a little extra hiking time in. We made our way up the steep hill and through the pine needles and our efforts were rewarded. Topaz Lake was gorgeous! I’m running out of adjectives.
The water was crystal clear and an amazing turquoise color. It’s all rocks that you can see right down in the water. It’s jammed with people swimming in the summer and we had this gem all to ourselves. It was a little chilly for swimming though. The girls got most of the way in and we all did some rock climbing up higher to get a better view. It lived up to the expectations. Eventually we had to tear the girls away and head back to the dinghy. On our way down the hill we passed another couple hiking up – more people! We made our way back down and got back to the boat. It was late afternoon at this point so we stayed put at anchor for the night. We were all alone but it was calm and peaceful and we had a wonderful night.