One fabled place on the Island that Bill and I have been wanting to explore is the Broken Group Islands. This archipelago of islands in Barkley Sound is a prime destination for guided trips and many of our paddling friends have waxed eloquently about camping trips they have taken there. We were made aware of an opportunity to spend several days there, on a lodge-based trip, with some friends, so we took advantage of it and had a great time. Here is the recipe for success:
Make reservations at ONE Island Lodge.
Broken Island Lodge is actually on the mainland but only accessible by water. Staying in a bed, with 3 squares a day, with wonderful scenery of islands and water, is a wonderful alternative to camping!
Bring TWO good friends
We introduced Matt and Jason to kayak camping on our trip to the Broughtons in 2017 and we also showed them the magic of kayaking in Georgian Bay in 2019. When I invited them to come with us, now that the border is open, they jumped at the chance. Since they live in the US, they had to navigate the complexities of paperwork and Covid-19 testing (both ways) but they made it safely here. We loved showing them more of the Island, invited them to join the cult of using Greenland paddle, which they heartily accepted, and strengthened our friendship, sprinkled liberally with TWO boxes of wine, over the days we spent together.
Spend THREEE days of paddling among islands with spectacular scenery.
The first day in sparkling sunshine and no wind allowed us to travel to the outside islands and enjoy some fun rock gardening and even entry into a cave on the shores of Gibraltar Island.
The second day we visited some white shell beaches, toodled around small islands and appreciated the mountains play peek-a-boo with clouds.
Reduce the group to FOUR paddlers in the rain.
Rain moved in on the third day but we still paddled. We enjoyed the fog-shrouded islands and the pitter-patter of rain on the water. Not everyone was as silly as we were but given the drought conditions we did not begrudge the rain. We enjoyed it.
Watch FIVE bears forage for food.
There were two family groups of bears. One sow with a cub and another sow with 2 cubs. They regularly walked the beach by the lodge, turning over rocks to find crabs and other goodies to eat. We all stayed far enough away and were watched but they never seemed threatened by our presence. We all thought the cub climbing the tree was worth the price of admission.
Chat with SIX people around the table during meals.
Lively conversation during meals in the dining room often lasted past meal times. We swapped stories of kayak trips, talked about gear and of course solved the world’s problems. It was a great way to know fellow lodgers.
Make SEVEN new friends.
Our friends Heather and John had invited us to take this trip, and they were with a group of 5 other people so we were in a flotilla of 11 boats when we were paddling (except the rainy day). There was lots of chatting and sharing of stories as we paddled the 20 km each day.
Load EIGHT kayaks on the water taxi.
Weather permitting, you can paddle the 14 or so km to the lodge, but we opted to take the water taxi there and back, since Jason and Matt could not bring boats. We were the only ones on the boat on the way to the lodge. We were whisked across the channel in 20 or so minutes and we had our first glimpses of the area. It saved us a lot of time!
Sing with NINE or more people around the campfire.
The lodge has an fire ban exemption certificate and the dry wood they collect on the beaches makes great fires, when it’s safe to do so. Gord, our water taxi captain and co-manager (with his wife Nancy) of the lodge, plays guitar at night and those that know the words can sign along with him.
Get Ready for lights out at TEN pm.
The lodge is completely off grid. Water comes from a lake near by and they even generate electricity with a turbine when the lake levels are high enough in the winter. But in the summer, power is provided by generator which is turned off at 10pm at night. We are plunged into darkness then, and without any light pollution, it really is dark! But we enjoyed the sunsets before that.
Variations to the recipe will make this a different trip each time it’s used. Next time we may camp or be with different people but I’m sure that any time we do it again we will enjoy it. We were so happy to spend time with Matt and Jason, to meet new friends, and enjoy the beauty of the Broken Group.