So we've arrived. A short paddle (maybe 45 minutes) from our put-in point at the Hartley Bay Marina and we're camped on an island.
We left the Y canoe shed on Lockhart Ave at 7am and headed north on 17 in a fleet of cars. We stopped a couple of times -- Deep River for breakfast and Sturgeon Falls for lunch. My vehicle arrived at 3pm. The others trickled in between 3:30 and 4:30.
I think we "embarked" about 4:45 and made camp at about 5:15. The site is spacious and well furnished - a tad overly so à mon avis. Someone even made a broom. There is a (tatty, beaten up and almost full but nevertheless extant) thunder box/treasure box/shitter/loo/I think you get it by now/outdoor toilet. But there's a swamp in the bay to my right, which should make for a bumper bug crop later.
Now I'm sitting here in my thermarest chair while Bruce and Denise practice latin dancing to the tune of "slow quick quick slow..." it's quite cute really.
So the Y Canoe Camping Club is a pretty neat outfit. Everyone brings a meal or two, their personal equipment and the club supplies (at a cost-covering fee) canoes, (some) packs and equipment. There's a volunteer leader and people pitch in to do camp tasks. This is a marked contrast from the "company of strangers" trips I've been on with the Ottawa Outing Club where the trippers are "clients" and the guide is the boss.
This group seems to know each other. Or at least a lot of them do. There are a couple of couples, two pairs of friends and a couple of loners, me being one.
The French River seems nice. Thus far it reminds me of the Key River -- rocky shore, with trees perched on them, growing out of cracks and dust, sporadic motor boats, sporadic cottages. I imagine it will get a bit more like wilderness before long.
We have a lot of gear. Why do I feel like I always say that? Two bear barrells, at least eight 130+ litre canoe packs and an insane number of klingons. There are more than a couple of those metal-framed folding chairs and even a lo-chair (aka Festival chair). Our longest portage is apparently 250m and there's only one portage (although the official word is "who knows -- it depends on the river levels"). People are packed appropriately, I reckon, given the paltry amount of portaging involved.
It was hard to know what to bring. I didn't know how hardcore this lot were going to be. As it turns out I could have brought lots more stuff and not looked like a comfort queen, relatively speaking. Ah well. As it is, I'm not on privation patrol. I have three pairs of shoes, a bathing suit, a towel, thermarest chair, yadda yadda yadda.
Oh my but the bugs are bad. Drove everyone indoors real fast after a dinner of chicken, rice, greek salad and pie. Yes. First night food is glam city. They all enjoyed the chicken. We're planning on being on the water for 9:30am tomorrow. So I've set my alarm for 7:05am. Wonder how they handle mornings.
Tomorrow is 15km of paddling with no portages. This should test my collarbone. Today was fine. I'm a bit rusty on the technique, but not any weaker than I normally am.