The Trail Less Travelled

So, it was a rare sunny day today, although it was quite cold, but there was very little wind, so I just dressed for the occasion and headed out to who knows where.

That is to say, I didn’t really have any plans on where I might go, so I just put one foot in front of the other until the urge for direction asserted itself.

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This is the view I get when I’m walking into town. Just to be clear, when I’m not driving to my hiking location, I walk through town to get to where I want to hike. You can see the rolling hills of the surrounding wilderness in the background there.

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At this point, I’ve now walked through the, so called, downtown area of Elliot Lake, and I’m coming out the other side of town. You can see Horne lake here. This is where the Ice Fishing Derby will be held later this winter.

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What a difference a bit of blue sky and sunshine makes, but the snow is very bright. Horne Lake is completely frozen but there are no tracks on it yet. Everyone is playing it safe for now, which is very smart.

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My friend the miner, sitting at the Miner’s Monument on Horne Lake. Boy, I don’t envy his job……the one he did before, or the one he has now.

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If you look closely, right in the middle of this picture, you can see a green bridge. In a while, I will find myself on that bridge. Like I said before, I didn’t really know where I would go, I was just going.

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There’s that green bridge again. It was about at this point, near the end of Horne Lake, that I decided that I might do the Horne Lake hiking trail, which passes over that green bridge.

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So, I headed into the bush, on the Horne Lake trail. It sounds like I’ve made a decision here, right? Well, not so fast you kwazy wabbit. Nothing is for sure in this life.

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You can see the little white trail marker for the Horne Lake trail on the tree there. These trails are usually fairly well marked, but I wouldn’t bet my life on those markers. I have seen places where there is some doubt as to which way to go.

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The Horne Lake trail stays fairly close to the edge of Horne Lake all the way around.

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Here’s that green bridge that I took a picture of from the other side of the lake. The river flowing under this bridge goes from Horne Lake into Elliot Lake.

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Even the river is frozen now, so that tells you how cold it has been lately. We’re supposed to see lows close to minus 30 this coming weekend, and that’s without the windchill. During this hike it was around minus 12, but there was very little breeze.

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There were a few tracks in the new snow, so some people had already walked through here.

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I continued to follow the Horne Lake trail back into the bush, not knowing that my path was about to change.

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I came to a smaller trail, leading away from Horne Lake, that I’d never noticed before, probably because of the foliage in the summer months. There was only one set of tracks on this smaller trail, and they were coming towards me, which meant that this hiker was already gone. It didn’t take much thinking for me to change my course. I headed in and saw this sign just down the smaller trial.

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Although I’ve never been on this particular trail before, I am familiar with certain landmarks in this area. That’s Beaver Mountain in the background.

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The snow conditions in the bush weren’t too bad, and I just took my time as I made my way through the sleeping wilderness.

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A nice spot for a picnic along this trail. I’ll have to keep that in mind for future reference.

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A nice view of Beaver Mountain right from that picnic spot.

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Further up the trail, I came to a couple of small bridges crossing over a creek.

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Another trail marker. These are much easier to see in the winter, when there’s no vegetation to get in the way. However, if there are already tracks on a snow covered trail, it’s unlikely you would get lost, but you could end up walking a lot farther than you wanted to.

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Another creative creek overpass, with stairways down to the level of the bridge. I guess it was easier doing it this way than building a bridge going straight over.

After that crossing I came to a ‘T’ junction in the trail. There were no markers on which way to go. Fortunately, since I had seen Beaver Mountain a bit earlier, I knew which direction I wanted to go in, so I made a left turn.

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I found myself on a more well trodden trail, and I knew that this was the Sherriff Creek trail.

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A bridge over Sherriff Creek, with the top of Beaver Mountain in the background.

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The Sherriff Creek trail is well used, mostly by people walking their dogs. I’ll only say this once, because I know it’s like a religion to some people, but if there’s one thing I fear the most while out alone in the bush it’s people with dogs. I’d rather meet any wild bear or moose than be confronted by the family’s friendly pet, not on a leash, of course. It needs to be noted, and understood, that the family pet injures and kills more humans than any wild animal ever did, or will. I just don’t get it when it comes to people and dogs, so I’ll just leave it at that, because I know that ego’s get stirred on such subjects.

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Animal tracks zigzagging across a frozen pond, probably fox.

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I make my way past Sherriff Creek pond, and follow Milliken Mine Road back towards Elliot Lake. The lake, not the town.

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And here it is, Elliot Lake. Not a track to be seen on it yet. Is it possible that the snowmobilers are learning?

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Looks like it’s all frozen now. Pretty soon it will be criss-crossed with snowmobile tracks, and dotted with ice fishing huts.

From here I made my way back through town and home. It was a very enjoyable hike today, especially in the bush, where the lack of any kind of wind, plus the sunshine made it quite pleasant.

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