Outdoor Adventure

North Channel: Women in the Wilderness

Wendy Grater
Wendy Grater is the owner and director of Black Feather Wilderness Adventures. Black Feather is an Ontario adventure travel company, offering guided, outfitted wilderness canoeing, sea kayaking and hiking trips. Wendy is a nationally certified canoe and sea kayak instructor, and has guided many trips on rivers and oceans, from French River to Georgian Bay, Lake Superior to the Arctic.
Our Black Feather women’s kayak group consists of Ann, Pat, Mary, Sally, and our intrepid guide Wendy, and we’re set to paddle the ‘North Channel’ of Georgian Bay, from Spanish to Whitefish Falls.

We meet at Mitchell’s Camp near Spanish, Ontario and start with kayaking instruction. Wendy is most helpful in helping us overcome our anxieties and teach more efficient strokes. The further we paddle from town, the more beautiful the scenery. We make camp in a lovely cove on Fox Island. Yoga and stretching becomes part of our regime with each of us contributes something we like. Wendy leads the yoga and the mind stimulation with great skill. Sun, rocks and nature awake different feelings in us all. It is worthwhile to think peacefully of our beautiful land when we have the opportunity. Supper is amazing… Black Feather salmon fillets, Caesar salad, wine, rice, strawberries, and cream.

We awake to a beautiful sunrise. Pat gets the fire going to get the water boiling for her morning caffeine boost! After enjoying a hearty breakfast and then stretching exercises, we head out to explore the quiet coves. The rugged pink granite and reeds in our bay are a beautiful contrast, a tranquil spot. This tranquility also contrasts the brisk wind and waves we encounter crossing the channel from Fox to the Benjamins. Whew! After a rest and some ‘gorp’ to refuel, we paddle a little further to our lunch spot. The rock formations are magnificent, rugged, and colourful; pink granite and rusty coloured lichen are dramatic. The white pines atop the boulders legitimize the Group of Seven paintings of those same wind-blown pines leaning in the wind.

A few bold ducks march up on the rocks expecting lunch, but they are disappointed as we’re hungry and unwilling to share. We find a snakeskin whose owner had slithered away… what kind, we didn’t know, it was a greyish colour. We have a great view of Sow and Pig Islands on one side, and Innes Island on the other, which is heavily treed. Innes marks the divide between the pink granite of Georgian Bay and the limestone of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island.

We finally head back to camp; retracing our path. The wind has picked up and we work hard to get home. We gather firewood and start dinner preparations, starting with yummy appetizers of grilled brie with pesto, greek salad, and pasta parma-rosa. We eat dinner in our wilderness restaurant: on the rocks overlooking the lake. As the sun sets, we chat around the fire, sharing stories and reciting Robert Service poems… The Cremation of Sam Magee, The Dirt, The Dark Pine, and more! We started head for bed after the moon comes up, content in our cozy tents, and happy to be women in the wilderness.

View the photo album here

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