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PostPosted: November 13th, 2020, 3:33 am 
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Continued from Part 1...

Day 5 - Site 417 to 523 = 32kms
A dreary morning welcomed us, and the wind was rearing it's ugly head once again. The entire day ended up being gloomy, with rain scattered off and on, heavy at times. We geared up as best we could and got an early start. We reached Cross Island that morning, a place I intend to learn more about. It's mysterious to see the white cross standing on the lonely island.
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We continued through the increasing rain and headwinds, and eventually passed under the hydro lines, the train bridge, and Hwy 69. I saw this as a milestone, as every time I've driven over this river, I had promised myself to one day paddle it! The gorge section of the French River is absolutely beautiful, and a joy to paddle. However, in dealing with the headwinds and rain we weren't able to enjoy it as much as we wanted. We reached the portage around Recollet Falls late after a long day of paddling. This portage is river left, and you DO NOT want to miss this! The current rapidly increases after you go under the Hwy 69 bridge, be on the lookout and listen carefully for the falls! The portage takeout was awkward in high water, and it's steep. However, it's short. By this point it was absolutely pouring rain and we were soaked to the bone.
The put in at the end of the portage is VERY tricky to paddle. The pounding falls create many strong currents that make paddling away from the falls very difficult, use caution here! We kept paddling thru the pounding rain until we reached campsite 523. I set up the tarp and Bill got the fire going. We set up the tent in the rain, getting the tent floor soaked in the process. It would turn into a long, miserable, wet night.

Day 6 - site 523 to site 708 = 25.25kms
Thankfully, we woke to sunshine and warmer temperatures. We took an easy morning to allow our gear to dry as much as possible.
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We pushed far in short time on this day, enjoying the now unseasonably warm temperatures and sunshine. We went through Ox Bay, and Wanapitei Bay which is as cottagey as the French gets. You finally leave the cottage-lined shores when you enter McCallums Narrows, which eventually is where the river begins to turn south towards Georgian Bay. We paddled to site 708, which has a beautiful beach. The colours this evening were once again beautiful. We were getting so close to Georgian Bay now, and to reaching our goal of paddling the entire river!
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Day 7 - site 708 to Georgian Bay via Old Voyageur Channel, up via the Mills Channel, up to site 600 = 36kms
Today was the day! We would reach our goal today no matter what. We had a lovely day yet again, lifting our spirits as we entered the gorgeous Old Voyageur Channel. The beauty here is just on another level! The winding channel often narrows, and you can ride quick swifts as you thread the needle. It is pure joy paddling here!
Finally, the river began to open up, and we could see the mighty, vast expanse of Georgian Bay..We paddled faster out into it's welcoming arms, we did it! We had successfully paddled the entire length of the French River!
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Despite our excitement of reaching our goal, our trip wasn't over. We needed to paddle as far back towards Hartley Bay marina as possible, where my truck was waiting for me. We zig-zagged our way back up using 2 channels east of the Old Voyageur, one of the channels I believe is named "Mills". Again it was a beautiful area, but this time going upstream meant we had to portage and line quite a few areas. The portage around the falls at the northern end of the Mills Channel is best taken river right. We stopped for a late lunch here.
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We pushed on, paddling hard for many more kms. We wanted to get as close as possible to Hartley Bay marina, where my truck was waiting. We were now backtracking up until we reached Wanapitei Bay, where we paddled north. We then turned east, and paddled to site 600, which is the closest campsite to Hartley. We covered 36kms this day, our biggest day of the trip.We set up what would be our last camp of the trip, having accomplished what we came here to do.

Day 8 - Site 600 to Hartley Bay Marina = 2kms
It was a cold, wet morning. It felt as if the French wanted us to leave after we had conquered it. We packed up our wet gear and did the short paddle to Hartley Bay marina. Our bodies were stiff, feeling the effects of the entire trip. My shuttle driver had come through, bringing my truck from Lichty's on Lake Nipissing down to Hartley Bay for us. It was an unusual feeling touching land this time, knowing that our trip was over. After we packed up and were driving toward cold beer and real food, our conversations were only about what we had just experienced, and what experience should we take on next.

This was an epic journey, and I would highly recommend you take this on! If you have any questions about any particular section, campsite, obstacle, or logistics (or anything else) just let me know.
We filmed this adventure, and I'm editing this into a full documentary titled "North to South", which will tell our story but also share history of this beautiful river. The trailer for the documentary can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp5nMEf7UQA

Thanks all!
Pete - Ontario Fishing Quest
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PostPosted: November 13th, 2020, 7:01 am 
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Location: St. Catharines, Ontario
Nice trip report! I've done some of this trip as 4-5 day sections and it's always in the back of my mind the string them all together.

708 I agree is a nice site! I stayed there this summer as well.


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PostPosted: November 21st, 2020, 11:41 am 
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Thanks so much! I'd return to 708 in a heartbeat. Stringing all the sections together is something I'd so highly recommend doing. Looking back, our favourite spots were the southern shore of Nipissing, the Dokis, and the 5 Mile Rapids section in terms of beauty and feeling more remote. The Delta is in a class of it's own no doubt, but everyone knows about it as well.

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