Saturday, April 26, 2003
length: 15.0km, 1 day
participants: Michel Néray, Peter Farr, Stephen Farr,
After being delyed a week due to thunderstorms in the forcast, we were all very happy to have a bright, sunny day for our trip. Our party consisted of six of us - Michel, Stephen, Barbara, Carlo, Rosalinda and Peter - in three canoes.
We dropped the canoes at Willow Creek off George Johnston Rd, to the West of Barrie and left two cars at the take out in Edenvale on Hwy 26.
The weather was cool and sunny with a stiff breeze out of the NW. Willow Creek started off through fields for a KM or two, but then headed into an area of flooded open forest. The current was surprisingly strong and deep, even though the banks were never more than about 4-5m apart. Several times we had to gun our way over log jams and once over a sand bar, but in general it was easy navigation.
We stopped for a mid-morning gorp break (provided by Michal's daughters) around 11:30 or so ("is it lunch time yet?" being heard from Stephen every bend in the creek or so).
After starting off again we quickly came to the swamp proper. The constant bends had made (and continued to make) forward progress very slow in spite of the fast current. The swamp was impressive - not a speck or dry land in any direction. All around us we could hear what we think were hundreds of bullfrogs. In the centre of the swamp, Willow Creek is joined by abother creek flowing in from the SE. At this junction it is important to head NW toward the Nottawasaga River. If you just make sure to follow the main current (watch the weeds under the water) you can't go wrong.
By this time the breeze was very stiff and coming right out of the NW, and we were heading into it. I can't say directly into it, since the many turns and twists actually kept us tacaking across. In fact, once we perfected the technique of front-ferrying across each straight streach and just powering around the bends, travel becames a "breeze".
We stopped for lunch somewhere in the middle of the swamp on a pair of gigantic tree trunks. It was a well-deserved rest for all, and Michel provided the mealtime entertainment by showing off his diving and water-ballet technique.
After many, many, many turns we reached another section of flooded open forest. Just past this Willow Creek met up with the Nottawasaga. The river was singluarly unspectactular (although quite pretty). At this water level at least Willow Creek was as big or bigger than the river.
From the junction of the creek and river onwards, the course was a series of gentle bends under arching trees... very nice. The terrain eventually opened up into farm fields then passed under Hwy 26. We took out immediately on the other side of the bridge, but we should have continued another KM or so to the park. The highway is extremely dangerous, but luckily the man running a garage/used car lot beside the river kindly let us load up there.