Back to the Bush

It promised to be a sunny day, with temperatures just above freezing, so I decided to get back out into the bush today, for some much needed outdoor time.

March had been a bleak month up here, with very few days being favorable for outdoor activities, unless of course you wanted to challenge yourself, to see how much cold and snow you could endure.

However, that is not my purpose in life anymore. My sole purpose is to enjoy life, while I still have it, and I’ve challenged myself enough in the past to know what I can do, and what I can’t do, and what is just no fun at all.

Today I went back to a place that I had not finished exploring, mainly because the day that I went there last fall was too cold to do the whole route that I had intended. There was still a fairly cool breeze blowing here at the Quirke TMA(tailings management area) today, a reminder of how it was the last time I had come here. But, it wasn’t quite as cold this time, so I was able to take a lot of pictures without my hands freezing up on me.

I covered a lot of ground that I hadn’t seen last time I was here, and I made it all the way to Gravelpit Lake this time. As I started out on this trek, I noticed a lot of Elk tracks along the gravel roads that run through this area.


I remember, last time I was here, I also saw, what I believed to be, Elk tracks. I have since learned that there is an Elk herd that frequents this area, which is verified by the many tracks that I saw on my hike today.


Some of the dirt roads throughout the area were bare, which was a welcomed relief after all the walking I did on slippery snow covered surfaces all winter.


It looks like the mine workers do plow some of these roads, so that they can get in to do any monitoring, or testing required during the winter months.


As usual, it was very scenic and very quiet, and I missed not being able to get out for most of March.


Some of the roads were partially covered with snow and, as you will see farther on, some were still completely buried.


Even where the snow was still quite deep, I had no problem walking on it because all the freeze/thaw cycles we’ve had have made the snow very hard.


It was easy to walk along sections of the road that were like this, because of the hardened snow.


Mine were the only human tracks in here, but there were many other tracks, some which I couldn’t identify, but these snowshoe hare tracks were quite common in here. Lots of food for other animals such as bobcats and lynx.


I didn’t see any bear tracks around, so I’m guessing that they have decided not to venture out of their winter dens just yet. Maybe they know something that we don’t. I have heard that we’re supposed to get up to 10cm of snow this coming Saturday.


This, I believe, is Gravelpit Lake, although something didn’t seem right, because the map shows the water coming right up to the road I was on. However, I know that the water levels in these lakes can change dramatically, since the flow is controlled by dams and pumping stations.


There is a road that goes down there farther, towards Gravelpit Lake, but the snow covered over any signs of that road and, since I stupidly forgot to bring my GPS with me, I decided against going any further into unknown territory. Getting lost at this time of year would not be a pretty sight after the sun went down.


There wasn’t much in the way of ice melting going on, except for some areas where flowing water keeps ice formation to a minimum. For the most part, all lakes up here are still fully frozen over, and still being used by ice fishermen and snowmobiles.


I found a small side road, that went to a testing area, where there was a small dam built, and the water was in liquid form.


This is why the water doesn’t freeze.


The water is funneled through this narrow steel channel, where I expect the workers can test it’s quality at any time.


It then flows into the lake.


There was a convenient stairway leading down to the dam.


Here’s a better look at the whole setup.


At the top of the dam area were these large tubes going into the ground above the dam. I guess they are also used for testing purposes. There was even some kind of, what looked like, electronic device left hanging there by the mine workers. I guess they don’t get too many vandals in this area.


Actually, this little oasis was kinda nice, and I spent some time here just relaxing and taking some pictures.


Some of the first signs of spring I’ve seen, but I don’t think that winter is finished with us yet.


It wasn’t an easy winter for all of the plant life. Some didn’t make it.


As I moved along from the dam area, I came across this small weather station in the middle of nowhere. Not sure what they use it for.


The box on the bottom of it was open, but I didn’t approach it because I know that the mine workers are always checking these areas, and the last thing I needed was my footprints leading up to that weather station if someone had already been tampering with it. I continued on my way.


As you can see, it was certainly a beautiful sunny day, and it did get a fair bit milder as I went along.


I had made a loop around the lake, and I was headed back in the direction of the truck at this point.


I came across this large cut in the rocks. These are quite common in the mine sites. They mine the rock, crush it, and then use it to make dams wherever they need one.


When I arrived at this rock cut, there was a lone Raven roosting in the sunshine, and it squawked at me for disturbing its peace, before flying off to a quieter place.


The colour of the rocks and the snow and the trees made for some good contrast for scenic pictures.


I spent some time here, and then continued back towards the truck.


The Elk must be hiding up in them thar hills, because I saw tons of tracks, but no Elk.


Another enjoyable hike in the books, and back to the truck waiting patiently for me to return. I’m still a little gun shy when getting back to the truck in a remote area, after it failed to start one time last year at the Quirke Lake boat launch. There is no cell service out here, and I hadn’t seen one other vehicle on the highway up here, so it would be most inconvenient to run into mechanical problems. However, no problems this time.

As a side note; All these pictures were taken with my (new to me) Canon Elph camera. It’s a very small camera that fits into my shirt pocket and, best of all, it only cost me $1.25 on ebay. Of course I had to pay 8 bucks for shipping but, still, not bad pics for a $1.25 camera I would say.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Nice post, boy thats a lot of photos and $1,25.. I need to look at Ebay more often then!


    • Thanks Wild_E, Ya, you can get some good deals on ebay still, but you have to be willing to keep an eye out and know when to bid. I just can’t understand the people who will bid on an item days ahead of when it’s scheduled to end. They are basically bidding against themselves, and boosting the price in the process. Only bid at the last possible second, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but that’s the way to get the best deals.


  2. Posted by Avril Frame on April 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Al ……….. great photos. You still have a lot of snow there. Our snow is gone now. I’ve already done some gardening. Especially like your photos of the little oasis you found with the brown foliage growing in the middle of the snow. It is a Wonder!

    Take care of yourself and stay healthy…………….Avril


    • Hey Av;

      Thanks, ya the snow doesn’t want to go away this year. We still have more snow in the forecast for this week. There are a lot of real neat places in the bush like that. Very relaxing and peaceful. Still so much more to explore.


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