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Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

May 29, 2024 – This sunny day had me heading out to Honey Harbor to catch my boat ride west to Beausoleil Island, a part of the Georgian Bay Islands Parks.  You will need to make a reservation with Parks Canada to plan your day trip, though I would recommend staying overnight to really experience the best of this beautiful park.  I thoroughly enjoyed the commentary provided by the rangers on the boat ride over to the island, a bit of history, a bit of sarcasm, a bit of fun. One ranger suggested that hikers should take a moment to take a picture of any bears. Umm, so while I know that bears rarely interact with people, I don’t really want to take time to pull out my phone and snap that special picture of a bear that is TikTok worthy.

I arrived at Cedar Springs and the visitor centre for Beausoleil Island where I declined the guided tour and decided to try to get to the lighthouse on the west side of the island; a decision I would regret several hours later.  I started off full of hiker enthusiasm and took the lesser known and more rugged treasure trail. The trail was muddy and buggy but worth the hike. I marvelled at a great blue heron lifting off just a few short metres from where I stood, and captured photos of lesser-known plants and fungi along the muddy trail. I mean, bluebeard lily, who has ever heard of that!? As you head further north the environment changes from hard wood forest to glimpses of the Canadian Shield and that traditional granite rock.

The only problem with this trek is that you must consider your boat out.  In all, the total time you will have is three hours from boat drop off until you should be ready at the dock for the boat out.  My goal was the lighthouse on the opposite side of the island.  This meant I gave myself an hour and a half out and then another hour and a half back, and that would mean a very fast pace across the island.  I worked up a great sweat, which attracted all the horseflies and black flies.  As I travelled across the island I walked through marshes, old growth forest, and cedar groves, with an abundance of bird calls and large brown millipedes traversing the same trail that I was taking.  With only five minutes left in my self-imposed time limit, and still no sign of the lighthouse, I was considering turning around.  Stubborn me instead made a final push through wet mud and rocks, and with only one minute left I came out onto the beautiful beach next to a dilapidated metal structure and looked out to another island to see the small white and red lighthouse in the distance.  Hmm, anticlimactic. However the view itself was incredible, across blue waters and the pink granite mounds.  Now it was a mad dash back the way I had come, except I avoided the treasure trail and used the Huron trail to make a quick trek back to the visitor centre.

This is a spectacular park to explore, with little people along the trail, and so much beautiful scenery to explore.  I am already making plans with my family to return for a family day trek.  Enjoy not only the trails, but the great boat ride to and from the island, and all the information from the wardens.  Note to all of us; the ranger says that about nine people a year are bit by the massasauga rattler, most of them males 18-35 years of age, who may have had a bit too much to drink and then thought that wrangling a rattlesnake is a good idea.  Leave the critters alone, leave only footprints, take only pictures.

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