Hiking the Highways 5

It’s been wet and cool for the last few days, so I was anxious to get back outside for some enjoyment. I, actually, started to do this trip yesterday, but was turned back by rain. However, the weather forecast promised mainly sunny skies for Sunday, so I was confident that I could do my 5th installment of Hiking the Highways then.

I mean, how could the forecasters be wrong? With all that fancy tech equipment, and satellites, it’s very easy for them to forecast the next day completely accurately.

As I stepped out the door on Sunday, it started to rain. It rained off and on, as I drove toward my destination for today, which was the parking area just beside Mississagi Provincial Park. It also rained for the first part of my hike along the highway, but I was undeterred this time. My own internal forecast was telling me that it was going to clear up later today, so off I went, to the north.

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I prefer to do these hikes on Sunday, since there are no logging trucks running then.

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The wildflowers are still in bloom up here, and they will be until the bitter end. Amazing things, they start early in the spring and go until the big freeze.

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Even when they go to seed, they’re still pretty neat looking.

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Of course, there were many signs of fall around too, now that we are officially into that season.

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Looking across Jim Christ Lake, you can see the kind of skies I was dealing with today. Not the greatest lighting for taking pictures, but it is what it is.

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On many maps, this lake is identified as Jim Christ Lake, however, the sign here says Christman Lake. I’ll have to see if I can find some history on the naming of this lake.

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With this cool weather, the mushrooms are in full swing now too. I saw many different types on my hike today.

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As I was doing the first part of my hike today, I remembered that I wanted to see if I could find access to Flack Lake. It’s a fairly big and open lake, which is not my favourite to paddle, but it is quite scenic, with Mount Baldy being on the western shore.

I knew that it was on the left side of the road, and I found this trail going into the bush at about the right place, so I followed it for a while.

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It brought me to an ATV trail, which had a bridge running across a river that I assumed must flow into Flack Lake.

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This is the river flowing up to the bridge, in the direction I had just come in.

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This is the other side of the bridge, so Flack Lake must be out that way. However, the river is not navigable from here, so paddling to the lake from here would not be possible.

I did not go further, to check how far the lake was which, in hindsight, I should have done. I’m guessing that I just didn’t see an easy way to continue along the river.

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I headed back out the trail that I had come in on.

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I can’t pass an interesting looking mushroom without taking its picture, so you will be seeing a number of mushroom pictures on my hike today.

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Mushroom on quartz.

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One of the local bears agreed to take my photo along the trail. The tube you see hanging over my left shoulder is attached to my CamelBack, which is in a small backpack. It is full of iced tea, blueberry today, which keeps me hydrated on my hikes.

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Back out on the road now, I see the sign designating Flack Lake. There is another road entrance to Flack Lake, which is controlled by the Provincial Park. I passed it by right now, but I will enter that road on my return trip. The reason I decided to pass it by was, I know it is a pay entrance, so I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it. There are thousands of square miles of beautiful wilderness up here that costs absolutely nothing, so why pay for it?

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As I headed further north, you can see that there is some blue sky trying to creep in, but you can also see that the road is wet, since it was still raining lightly. The cloud cover never really cleared up for most of the day. There were some breaks in the clouds though.

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More mushrooms.

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Blue skies make such a big difference, when taking ‘landscape’ type pictures. Dull, cloudy skies are fine for closeups, but killer for landscapes, unless the clouds are interesting in some way.

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There are definitely signs of fall along the roadway, but I expect that we won’t reach full colours for another week or two yet, depending on the weather.

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It definitely looks like the sky is clearing here, but that clearing was patchy. Still, it was nice to get a little warmth from the sun, since the temperature was still in the single digits.

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These are small puffball mushrooms. If you break them open, a cloud of powder will explode into the air. Spores of the continuum.

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White berries, on the bright red stalk, nice contrast.

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As I’ve mentioned before, this road is very lightly travelled, and I can walk for long periods, without seeing a vehicle pass.

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As a kid, I remember daydreaming about being the last person on earth. Everyone else had disappeared, for one reason or another. I was the only one left. I used to love that feeling, and I still do to this day. I can still find places that give me that feeling and this is one of them. Roads with no cars. Miles and miles stretch out ahead, with no one there except me.

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Further north, I walked off into this ATV trail. I saw large tracks in the sand, either moose or elk, I couldn’t tell.

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At an intersection in the trail, I saw this sign. Me, my son, and my brother will be heading up this way in the next couple of weeks, for a week long camping/paddling trip.

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As you can see, the clearing skies did not last, and I was back into overcast conditions, with a light shower here and there. I hadn’t planned on any particular turnaround spot because, in some areas, the resolution of the Google Maps is not good enough to see spots that I can park my truck in. So, I figured that I would just continue walking for as long as I felt like it, and then start looking for a spot that I could park my truck for the next segment of Hiking the Highways.

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I had gone up and down some huge hills, but I was still feeling full of energy, and I knew that the Boland River was not all that far ahead, so I decided to head for it.

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This is the ATV bridge that crosses the Boland River, on the east side of the highway.

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This is the Boland River. It flows from east to west, and this shot is pointing east, so the river is flowing towards me. It might make and interesting paddling trip, if I was to paddle into the east, against the flow. I wouldn’t paddle down river, because I could easily get caught in a current that I could not paddle back against.

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Looking west, from the ATV bridge, you can see the bridge over highway 639. I hung around here for a while, checking the place out. Not a single vehicle passed while I was here. Like I said, it feels like I’m the last person on earth.

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The ATV bridge, from the highway bridge.

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The Boland River marks the northern boundary of Mississagi Provincial Park, as this sign designates.

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This is the entrance to the Boland Road, a long logging road, penetrating deep into the wilderness. It doesn’t have as many small lakes along the way, as some of the other logging roads, but it does follow the river for most of the way. I’d like to explore this road at some point.

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Exploring this road would best be done on Sundays, when the logging trucks are not running.

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I walked a short way down the road, just to get a feel for it. It feels……………isolated. I like it 🙂

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More interesting mushrooms.

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My next segment of Hiking the Highways, will take me in that direction, north of the Boland.

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The long road back to the truck, with the ominous clouds still lingering.

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On the west side of the river now, it seems like a nice deep river, which would be good for fishing and paddling. I wonder what it would be like here during the spring melt?

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Looking west, with the flow. It looks like it would be fairly easy to paddle against the current here, but I’m sure that the flow will pick up substantially in some places down river.

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The return trip has begun.

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I climbed up on a high rock ledge along the road, to have something to eat. This shot was taken from there.

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Mushroom and moss sat, quietly, beside me on the ledge.

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This is the ledge I was sitting on, from the roadway.

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This is only a small taste of what’s to come.

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Wild and free, as every life form was meant to be.

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Decorated rock. That’s unusual.

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The road is like a roller coaster, in some places.

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The geologist checks out the rock layers.

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The snakes are still out and about. Never seen one like this before.

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Here’s another one. A different kind this time.

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The walking man walks.

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Colours abound.

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Skateboarding anyone?

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Things did brighten up, somewhat, later in the afternoon.

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As I mentioned earlier, I did stop in at the Provincial Park access to Flack Lake on the way back.

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This is what’s known as a “Self-Serve Station”. There are no park staff at this location.

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Here’s a closer look. As you can see, it’s $14. to park here for the day. There is no camping allowed here.

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Another sign, giving the map details of this area.

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Me, my son, and my brother have already paddled some of the routes on here.

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This is the ‘picnic area’. One picnic table, and a fire pit, on a rocky shoreline, that’s all.

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This is Flack Lake. You can see Mount Baldy at the end there. There is a trail going to the top of Mount Baldy which would be a nice one to hike.

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This shot was taken from the picnic area along the shoreline.

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This is the boat launch area, which, for all intents and purposes, is the only reason anyone would want to come in here. The docks, themselves, are old, and feel quite weak. It looks like the floating parts have been taken out, already, for the season.

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There is a 1km long hiking trail, near the boat launch.

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As I said before, I would like to paddle the perimeter of this lake, at least once, because it seems like a very scenic lake. However, you won’t catch me paying $14. to park my vehicle here. Even the senior rate of $11. is an outrage.

There are only two access point to Flack Lake, as far as I can tell, and money controls both of them. One is this one, which the province controls. The other one is at Laurentian Lodge, which I also passed along the way today, but did not go in that road.

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No camping!

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Two pit toilets were available, for those who don’t want to go where the bears go.

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There were lots of mushrooms in here too.

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The road coming in to the Flack Lake access point.

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Back out on the highway.

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A small pond along the road.

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I was thinking, as I passed this big slab of rock, that this would make someone a nice natural tombstone, just sitting there, for the taking. Any takers? I’m not quite ready yet.

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And here’s a flower to place beside it. No need to spend lots of money.

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Late in the day, and the sun is shining.

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A little spruce tree growing on a rock face.

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Keep your eyes on the road here. It’s either off the high side, or into the hard side.

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And so ends this segment of Hiking the Highways. A good time was had by one and all. Well, by one anyways.

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