Sun and Snow

It’s been quite a stretch without a new post here but the weather hasn’t been very favorable for doing a heck of a lot.  I have been getting out, now and then, for walks, but nothing more than my regular routes.

Today the sun finally made a rare appearance, so I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and light winds.  I really didn’t have any particular destination in mind as I headed out.  I just wanted to get out and go for a nice walk.  I started out on one of my regular routes but it was so nice that I decided to walk all the way to the Sherriff Creek hiking trail and I ended up hiking the red loop of that trail system.

As you can see, the snowmobiles are out in full force now and Elliot Lake is covered with tracks.

Elliot Lake is about 7 kms long, so they have a lot of distance to cover on a nice flat surface.  I’ve had a chance to see both snowmobiles and ATV’s up here in Elliot Lake and I would have to say that, for the most part, snowmobilers are out for speed more than anything else.  Whereas ATV riders tend to putt around on the trails a lot more.  That’s not to say that I haven’t seen ATV’s flying along at break-neck speeds too, but that’s not usually the norm.   Then again, ATV’s do not usually have access to very long flat surfaces.

One thing I’ve learned about the local roads up here, they don’t use salt on them.  What happens is, a hard packed snow layer forms on the roads and stays there all winter.  This gives studded snow tires a distinct advantage up here and I did notice many vehicles with studded tires on before the snow started.  Studded tires are allowed on vehicles from Parry Sound northward.  Also, anyone who lives in the north can travel into southern Ontario with studded tires, even though they are against the law in Southern Ontario.  This is similar to the emission checks on vehicles.  They are not required in the north but are required in the south.  However, a vehicle from the north can legally drive in the south.

I would say that there is enough snow on the ground now to allow for the use of snowshoes, however, I hadn’t planned on going into uncharted territory today and, for the most part, the snow I was walking on was well packed.

No bird watchers here today!  Not too many birds either.  Maybe some chickadees and ravens, with the odd blue or grey jay thrown in there.

It was a great day for watching shadows though.  With that bright sunshine we reached a high of about minus 7 today.  Pretty balmy compared to the minus 30 windchills we’ve had recently.

As usual, there were a lot of animal tracks crossing over open areas and in the bush.  My guess is that most of them were either fox or rabbit.  I’ve been studying up a bit on track recognition but, when it comes to canine tracks, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between most of them.  Sure, you can go by size, especially when it comes to fox, but it’s really only guess work when you get to the larger canine tracks.  There are some signs that one can use to give some idea of which animal it was but not too many people can say for sure, one way or the other.

The trail goes through some bushy areas.

And past this frozen river.

Then more quiet bush.  It tends to be even quieter in the winter time.

An interesting tree with snow covered fungus on it.

The trail leads to this opening in the bush.

If I was walking across there then snowshoes would be very handy.

I did see a few people on the trail today but not that many.

I saw quite a few snowmobiles out today and I walked on a number of groomed trails.  They are fairly easy to walk on without snowshoes but you have to keep your ears open and pay attention to the traffic.

It’s pretty easy to hear them coming though.  Usually they’re revving their engines like a race car.

I kinda felt sorry for this guy today.  What’s that old saying about a brass monkey?

Here we have some folks out on Horne Lake enjoying a little ice fishing.  On Feb. 25th Elliot Lake will be holding an ice fishing contest on this very lake.  The top prize is $21, 000. so it’s no small event.  Attendance is usually around the 500 entries mark with tickets going for a hundred bucks each.  I hope the ice is thick enough to hold all those people, plus their friends too.

It was good to get out on such a nice sunny day.  In just a couple of days they’re forecasting rain and I high of 6 degrees!  This sure has been an up and down winter.




2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Avril Frame on January 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Al ……… glad to see you are still walking the trails. I also have taken up walking, since Dec. I do a 4-5Km walk cross country through our back 40. The dogs enjoy it more than going straight up and down the lane. I was a an avid walker….but I am surprised that I stayed with it this long. I have finally learned to stop and enjoy the beauty around me as I walk. Who knew!!! I often think of you when I am admiring the wonder of nature. My treks are not as magnificent as yours, but they fill me full of joy as much as yours do for you.

    Not sure where you are staying now, but hope you have a warm cozy place to lay your head at night. Eight more weeks till Spring!!!



  2. Yep, I’m still alive and kickin’…..For now anyways. Ya, there are so many neat things about walking, not just that it’s great exercise, which it is. It also slows us down and makes us feel like we belong to something much bigger than the little world in our minds. There’s so much going on in the natural world around us that we never pay any attention to because so much of our time is taken up with things that are supposed to ‘matter’. I, for one, always feel much more alive when I’m hiking out in the bush but you don’t need to be way out in the middle of nowhere to get close to nature. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always found places to walk and enjoy the great outdoors.
    I am still in Elliot Lake and, yes, I am nice and warm. In fact today it’s supposed to get up to plus 6 degrees with lots of rain. I made the mistake of walking down to the grocery store only to find that everywhere I stepped was as slippery as a skating rink. It’s a 4 km round trip to the store, up and down hills, so it was quite a challenge to get back without any broken bones, but I did make it.


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