Bad River is one of the many outlets into Georgian Bay by which the French River flows. The area has many cuts both north/south and east/west where water flows, often quite fast producing rapids. This area is also known for its fishing and a fishing lodge is located on one of the cuts, the only building in many miles. There is a story about the rock wall in the background of this shot, the reason it begins this post, even though it is not a colorful or bright image due to the heavy overcast on this day.
On the boat, in the anchorage, there is no cell phone signal. This location is far from any civilization and also from the Trans Canada Highway which has cell towers along its length. So, extra altitude was needed to get a cell phone signal. The pink granite wall had the highest altitude in the area, but was fairly vertical. The first section was only a moderate challenge, but the second half could only be ascended by climbing up an angled crack in its face, often narrower than a shoe.
Not all of the Last Dance crew thought a climb up the face of the rock wall was a good idea. So, instead of climbing, warnings of impending doom that could befall one was constantly shared. Fortunately, the worst case scenario did not occur and all the crew made it back to the bottom of the wall and into the dinghy.
Another advantage of increased altitude was the view that was available. This is a view to the south, along one of the main Bad River channels, into Georgia Bay. Even on this very gray day, the beauty is evident.
The best known rapid in the Bad River is Devils Door, which provides the connector from the anchorage area to all the other cuts, river channels, bays, and rapids. At normal water levels, the drop from the upper level to the lower level, which is at the height of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, is about 3 feet, resulting in a fast running and steep rapid. Those with high horse power dinghies can run up the rapid and access all the many channels beyond. Although, sometimes when the rapid is high, the high horsepower dinghies push the bow so high that it comes over the stern and the dinghy is upside down. In 2016, the water level was 2 feet 9 inches above normal, reducing the fall at the Devils Door to about 6 inches. Little enough current that the 4 hp outboard powering the Last Dance dinghy, Rubber Duck, was able to make it up stream.
Even with the higher water levels, the drop at some of the rapids was still large. This is a cut that fishing guides use to come back down river. The boats often leap airborne as they cross this drop at high speed.
There is not a way to get up river, to the many bays and cuts rumored to be filled with fish, unless one takes a boat up one of the rapids. This particular rapid is not one of the ones that is recommended.
Other rapids are even smaller in width and depth. There are many cuts running north/south through which the Bad River flows. Knowing which one might provide the access to the upper river waters is key to safe passage.
One of the joys of cruising is the wonderful people you meet along the way. Among new Canadian friends is Bruce Rawlerson. His knowledge of the waters, many successful years fishing, and his dinghy with a 15 hp outboard, made the trip up the river and up a set of rapids possible. A quite thrilling ride. A fishing lesson ensued, but it seemed that all the fish were on Bruce's side of the dinghy. Here a small Pike provided a sporting fight and a delicious dinner. The best lesson was on filleting a Pike - into five fillets, not two. The Pike has a backbone with ribs extending in a Y pattern. Fillet them incorrectly and you wind up with many, many small bones in the fillets.
One of the cuts leading upriver, one farther away from the anchorage, reportedly was navigatable by dinghy with more spectacular rapids. A higher water line that occurs during spring runoff can be seen.
There were many narrow sections that limited travel to smaller beam boats.
And, there was one long, narrow section that lacked depth, causing rapidly moving water that taxed the horsepower of Rubber Duck to make it upstream. Of course, running back downstream was accomplished quickly.
The next section of rapids stopped all travel. This rapid is much too shallow and rapid for transit. A kayak or canoe could be portaged at this point to access the upper river, but would have been tough to impossible to get up the previous rapid. There are many good reasons that canoe expeditions in this area always begin farther upstream and the canoers paddle downstream.
The ridges running north/south are the most common geological feature in this area. With some east/west cuts thrown in, these ridges become sectioned and turn into islands.
The Bad River area offers much for outdoor recreation. The ridges have many hiking and exploring opportunities, running through beautiful natural habitats.
The area is also known for having many and prolific blueberry bushes. Oh, the flavor contained in wild blueberries cannot be approached by their larger, cultivated cousins.
Fishing is not only limited to those moving by boat. Shoreside casting is always an option.