This summer, I visited the St. Lawrence River on two occasions - my first and second visits to the region. It is a magical place, with many varied vistas, conditions, and histories to explore.
The first visit was in August and was a car-camping trip with a friend who shared the need for a short kayaking vacation. We camped at the Ivy Lea Campsite , one of the Parks of the St. Lawrence. Even though we were there just at the kickoff of the annual Festival of the Islands in Ganonoque, we were lucky enough to get a beautiful waterfront campsite right on Smuggler's Cove for 2 nights.
We ate (and drank) decadently, paddled along the northern edge of the river to Mulcaster Island and back, hung in hammocks, and spent the remaining time entertaining and being entertained by the resident water fowl and racoons.
The second visit was a bit more ambitious - a paddle from Kingston to Ivy Lea along the Water Trail of the 1000 Islands. Five paddlers drove to Kingston on 12-Sep-05 and launched into the Cataraqui river at the Cataraqui Canoe Club. We had planned to paddle to Milton Island for the first night, but the short paddle from the river mouth to Cedar Island - made interesting with the full force of the afternoon WSW winds across the entire reach of Lake Ontario and into the St. Lawrence - had us in agreement that getting to Cedar was all the challenge we wanted that evening, and there was a lovely campsite available as well. So Cedar it was, just across the water from a Royal Canadian Naval institution (yes, the cannons were pointing at us!). On the island was the Cathcart Redoubt, an old fortress built to defend Kingston in 1846. A couple folks set alarms for the wee hours to see the Northern Lights expected that evening, but this was not to be as the sky was too bright with the lights of Kingston 2 miles away.
Tuesday, 13-Sep-05, we headed on past Milton Island and into the Bateau Channel. We stopped at Grass Creek Park for lunch and enjoyed a short visit to the MacLachlin Woodworking Museum, which the curator was kind enough to open to us even though it is officially closed on Tuesdays in the fall. We continued out the eastern end of the channel to the Admiralty Islands, and made camp at Aubrey Island where we were serenaded by a Great Horned Owl for most of the night.
Wednesday, 14-Sep-05, we travelled the Wanderer's Channel through the Admiralty Islands, and crossed over to the ACA's Sugar Island in the lake Fleet Islands. Of course, with a couple of ACA members among us we had to stop at Sugar Island and tour the facilities. We never found the register book said to be there to sign in, but the island itself looks like a very worthwhile destination, and I haven't ruled out a visit to the annual Encampment there.
We continued on to the Navy Islands and camped at Mulcaster Island, enjoying a leisurely afternoon swimming and hammock-hanging.
Thursday, 15-Sep-05, we paddled out the short distance to the municipal dock at Ivy Lea where we had our shuttle vehicle parked. All in all it was a lovely 32-mile September journey. This is a near-by paddling destination that is a great way to spend a few days.