Sunday, December 30, 2007

View from the top of the ridge - Orphan Lake Lookout #2


So here is a piece of the spectactular view I've been warning you about. Over looking autumn bronzed, tree clad hills and the glory of Lake Superior's open water. Note that I started at the bottom of this valley and hiked strait up along the ridgeline to get here....
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Strange Sentinals

Almost to the top now (and feeling it - I Garuntee you). This lookout was probablythe most challanging for me - likely because it was on the tail of the 5 km Nokomis trail and because the sun came out (nice for pics, but hot and encouraging to small biting flies). Still.... the view was great and the rest at the top greatly enjoyed. Good place to linger and think.

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Burnout

A burnover section on one shore of the lake was facinating to explore. Lots of birds and wildlife - although I only caught the tail end of a garter snake in a photo.... and then its up, up, up hill to a spectacular lookout!
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Midway Peatmoss and Cranberry


Just a fun mix of colours growing on a boggy bit of ground beside the trail.
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Orphan Lake from the Bluff


The first part of the trail wanders mainly uphill through the maple-beech woods until you reach the first look out over the lake. Note that you can also see Lake Superior in the distance
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Orphan Lake Trail


Shortly after beginning my second hike of the day at Orphan Lake, I came upon these delightful mushrooms bursting from this root. I should be able to at least tell you the latin name, but I fear I've lost quick access to that knowledge of parisitic mushrooms... I'd guess honey mushroom given its colour and shape, but that is just like guessing that someone is named Jennifer since there are so many of them.

I'll complete my journey around Orphan Lake slowly over then next week. But here are the first steps if you can imagine hiking up a trail through the hardwood hills, bright leaves littering the ground, but many still clinging to the trees. Lots of maples in all their scarlet glory. The temperature is that frustrating one.. crisp in the shade and warm in the sun, leaving you stripping layers on and off to manage your temperature. The sun poking in and out of site behind clouds that would bring unbelievablye torrential rain that night.
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Superior View from Nokomis Lookout


So, Nokomis was my short but challanging hike that first morning back in Lake Superior Park. My next hike would be Orphan lake (8km, medium difficulty), but by the end of it I would be zonked. Still - its a wonderful trail, just as they say, with something for everyone. You really can beat autumn in Lake Superior Park at any rate. I'll have to go back some day to hike to the falls.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Face of an Old Woman


Here is a close up of the face of the Old Woman, of Old Woman Bay.
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Old Woman Bay - from Nokomis Lookout 2 or 3


Lookout's 2-4 were fairly close together and faced the bay and Lake Superior. The cliff you see in the picture is the one containing the Old Woman's face. I think Nokomis means grandmother, but again... my memory is a bit shifty if you go 2 months back.
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Nokomis Trail - Lookout 1


I found the hike to this point to be one of the most physically challanging, but the view was worth it. In all this trail was about 5 km, but the terrain was more challanging than the Awausee. The first lookout faces away from Lake Superior.
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Old Woman Bay


Old Woman Bay is an inviting place for picnics and hanging out. The name comes from a feature in the cliff face on the southern side of the bay that does look somewhat like the face of an old woman. I think I have some better pictures that I took while hiking up the hill behind the bay on the other side of the highway. So... of to the Nokomis trail.
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A little later - Rabbit Blanket Lake


Sadly, I'm far enough past my trip that I don't recall all the details. Likely, I ate a bunch of gorp and granola bars for breakfast before washing face, brushing teeth and heading to Old Woman Bay for my first hike. I do remember that there were a tonne of RV's and that i had to turn around and go backwards because one was parked on the road, probably not expecting my shortly after dawn departure.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sunrise at Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground


So, I made it back to my car well before dark, but I was pretty tired after a day of stops and at least 10 km of short hikes. Shortly after leaving Jackfish, I made a stop at one of the lookouts, but those were the last pictures I took that day. Darkness found me many kilometers from my goal - Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground in Lake Superior. Somewhat into the evening, I made a stop at Whitefish A & W where I enjoyed a burger and called home and got gas before heading on through the dark to the park. I think I did arrive around 10 pm, filled out my self serve permit in the dark, brushed teeth then curled up to sleep. It was a chilly night. The next night I dedicated to hiking up to a look out over Old Woman Bay and completing the Orphan Lake trail before visiting Agawa Indian Crafts and camping at Pankcake Bay... but those are tales for another day....
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Apocalypse Now


This bizarre and crumbling structure is accross the tracks from another mystery structure (in better repair). These massive concrete buildings must have served some purpose, but I do not know what that would be.
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Herbie Sr's retirement


This ones been out to pasture for a while... I think there may be a tree growing through parts of it.
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Stairway to Nowhere


The foundations were all that remained of this one..
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Crumbling History


I wandered carefully through the remains of what I think may still be considered outside of the town site. I was never really sure if I made it, but the falling darkness convinced me to head back rather than explore further. I watched carefully for sharp objects or holes that could be crumbling well covers and such.
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Random Building with Town Site


Perhaps this is the municipal office :P.
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Jackfish Ghosttown


Here are the rickety remains of an abandoned building... and a somewhat newer looking boat.
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First view of Jackfish


At some point I managed to end up back on the beach - wandering westward hoping to find something before I ran out of light. Amongst the ruins of the town are a few relatively intact private cottages - on of which is for sale. Possibly (but I can't remember) the one you can see ahead.
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Nearly to the townsite

Hiking along the tracks


The space between the tracks was narrow and I settled for hoping that a train didn't come along. There was plenty of room not to get hit by the try, but I was worried that it might kick up some rocks or something.
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Cliffs!


This was about the point that I had to head inland and make for the tracks. Which is an adventure in itself....
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Shrubby Cinqafoil


Another favourite plant growing on the rocks.
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Orange Lichen


I always loved these lichens.
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Sunset comes at Jackfish


No tweaking.. this is my cameras doing.
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Encrusted Saxifrage


This little artichoke-like plants (at least if my memory serves me correctly) are encrusted saxifrage, one of the random arctic plants that are found in and around the north shore of Lake Superior.
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Pebbles - glorious pebbles


There were an impressive number of rocks on this beach...
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Looking west at Jackfish


I'm still on the pebble beach making my way toward the Jackfish Townsite. I had hoped to stick along the beach, since it was a bit too close to sunset to try some poorly marked forest trail. Unfortunately... I came upon some cliffs and was forced to bushwhack back to the tracks and reach the townsite that way.
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Pebbles On the Jackfish Crown Beach


After carefully crossing the tracks, I proceeded to this beautiful crown owned beach. I have to admit to playing with the picture a bit so you won't think that I estimated 2 hours of light at this point. Its just flat and overcast and the sunsetish tint (which would occur in about an hour) made the picture look more exciting.
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Jackfish, Ontario


Many weeks ago, I promised to continue my journal on my trip in October to the ghosttown of Jackfish, Ontario. Its not easy to find the road that leads there - I actually missed it on the way up and was more than surprised that I actually managed to find it on the way back. Even once I started down the messy dirt road, I was unsure if I was in the right place. Even once I became fairly sure that it was the right road, I'm was not sure until I found the lot which matched the description in my guidebook where I should park. The road was barely a road... Kashechewan has better, but the road to Martin Head is a good deal worse. It was rutted and had deep puddles and need slow and cautious driving to avoid potential problems such as getting stuck or finding a surprise under the puddle. It was also fairly late in the afternoon by the time I arrived. Using the finger technique (and my experience of the last few days), I estimated that I had about 1 hour of good sunlight, followed by an hour of rapidly failing sunlight. If it had not been one of the few places that I really, really wanted to see I probably would have thought better of it. I was relieved to see operating trains nearby. It made the scene feel less deserted.
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