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Philip Edward Island - A canoeing/sea kayaking destination to put on your list
By:  Megan McTavish   (2013/08/15)

Every summer Karl and I try to go on a canoe trip.  Sometimes its just for a weekend, sometimes we manage 4 or 5 days (like 2 years ago when we went to the French River).  We find that it is a great way to "get away from the office" and recharge, while still being active and actually getting in a lot of upper body endurance training in. 

This year, the destination was Philip Edward Island.  This location was recommended to us by Vesta and Kyle (XC Ottawa Alumni) who had done a trip there earlier this spring.  It is a big island on the north shore of Georgian Bay, between Sudbury and Parry Sound.  To circumnavigate the island it is approximately 50km.  However, the south shore of the island is so interesting and beautiful, we opted for an out and back trip instead. 

Philip Edward Island is one of the top sea kayaking destinations in North America, but it is also possible to go in a canoe.  We went with the canoe option simply because we have a canoe, and we don't have sea kayaks.  This trip was planned rather quickly and it was just easier to go with what we had and knew.  The waves do get pretty big when you leave the sheltered parts though, so you should have a stable canoe (like a Prospector) and be fairly experienced with canoeing if you choose to use one.

Map of Philip Edward Island (can be purchased at MEC) - We parked at the Chikanishing River parking lot which is located in Killarney Provincial Park.  To park here you need a Park Pass which can be purchased at the Park Office at the George Lake Campground on your way in.  Camping on and around Philip Edward Island is free though since it is crown land.

Here I am at the boat launch on the Chikanishing River.

An early view of Georgian Bay after exiting the river.  The first crossing of Collins Inlet, which is the passage between mainland and Philip Edward Island can be quite rough, but we were lucky and it wasn't bad.  As you can see, there is a lot of shelter provided by small islands in the less exposed areas.

The first night we camped on Pig Island after paddling for a few hours through the many small islands which pepper the southern shore of PEI.  It was beautiful paddling and the campsite was also great!

Nice fire!  Lots of dry dead wood around.

A view from our campsite the next morning.

We stopped to do a short hike up "Big Rock" in Big Rock Bay.  You can see it ahead.

There were tonnes of blueberries to pick, and the higher up you were the better the berries.

A view from the top of Big Rock. Nice view of the La Cloche mountains (Killarney Provincial Park) in the background.

Karl coming back down Big Rock.

A pretty narrow channel somewhere near Bateman Island.

Somehow, this happens on every canoe trip we do. We tried to go through a channel behind Deer Island, but it wasn't much of a channel!  I guess the water level is a bit low this year.

After paddling in one of the more exposed sections - they can definitely pretty windy and wavy!  We were impressed with how our canoe handled the huge waves.

Beautiful sparkly water. Lots of sky too...

A view from our campsite on the third night...up on a cliff back in Big Rock Bay after spending the second night in The Chickens.

Getting unloaded.

Quite a scenic spot for a tent.  Good thing it wasn't stormy!

View from inside the tent.

Sunset from our cliff campsite.

And the morning coffee.

Another short hike up Blockbuster Island which is noted on the map to have excellent viewpoints.  We checked out The Foxes from the top of the island (a recommended destination on the map) and decided it wasn't too far to get to Sly Fox Island where we would have lunch.  However, partway there we heard thunder so headed back to the closest island to eat instead.  After we ate we decided that the thunder we heard was not coming our way and we would be safe to cross the big open area to Anchor Island and get ourselves closer to shore.  During our stop though, the wind had picked up and changed direction.  We were doing ok, but it was difficult to go in the direction we wanted to be going.  At some point we decided to turn towards our destination and go with the waves but ended up heading directly for a shallow rock.  In our efforts to avoid the rock, we ended up at a bad angle and the next thing we knew we were swimming!  Luckily we weren't too far from Anchor Island and there was a nice lady beckoning us to her campsite.  Somehow we managed to gather all of our stuff while being pushed by the huge waves in to shore.  Karl didn't even lose the sunglasses that were on his head!  We dried off, waited for the wind to die down a bit and finished our journey back to the car.  As you can see in the picture below the sky was pretty interesting and it looked like it was stormy somewhere not too far away.

Here I am in my dry clothes ready to cross the last tricky part to the Chikanishing River.  The dry bag in the picture did its job and our stuff wasn't wet after our swim.  Our other bag that was just a regular back pack and had food in zip lock baggies, didn't fair as well.  I guess we need to buy another dry bag! 

Overall it was a wonderful trip and we finished it feeling super refreshed and happy.  Luckily for us, it wasn't the end of our vacation.  Next stop was my cottage for more fun and relaxation. 

Hope everyone is having a great summer and is managing to get out and enjoy some of the beautiful places our country has to offer!

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