The Waking Wilderness

The winter has been sputtering to a halt over the last few weeks. We’ve had milder temperatures for a few days, and then we’re thrust back into the snow and cold for a few days. However, the trend is definitely warming, and it’s showing now, without any doubts.

I was actually able to walk into a bush road towards, and along, Esten Lake today, and the weather was fantastic. Still, in the single digits, but at least it’s above freezing now, and the forecast is looking like the big melt will be ongoing for the next week.


I started off by parking the truck at, what’s known locally as, Treatment Plant Road. This road leads to the garbage dump, and the water treatment plant. Does it seem like a good idea to have a water treatment plant, and a garbage dump right beside each other?


Anyway, this is a paved road but, just up a ways, there is a bush road that cuts off to the left, and into Esten Lake.


And here we are. The bush roads are opening up now and, for the most part, are passable with 4×4 vehicles. I did see a couple of vehicles in here today, along with a couple of ATV’s


It was nice to see some liquid water today, but this would not be the only open water I would see.


The trees were also showing signs of emergence and, again, this would not be the only signs of life springing forth that I would see.


As you can see, there is still a lot of snow to melt, and I met a couple of ATV riders who told me that they had a very difficult time making it through the deep snow on the trails.


But, the dirt road was clear in most places, since it is used by snowmobiles in the winter, and there were now ATV’s and vehicles using it.


I continued towards Esten Lake, wondering what I would find when I arrived.


It felt great to finally feel the earth beneath my feet, after such a long absence. And, it was also great to be able to get back into this place, since I cannot access it in winter time because of deep snow.


The road did suffer some washout damage, which I’m sure will be repaired after the thaw, since this road leads to the official boat launch for Esten Lake.


Upon arriving at Esten Lake, I did see some open water, which was encouraging, even though it’s not a lot.


I’m sure that the coming warmer weather will increase the size of these openings dramatically, especially if there is a lot of sunshine.


In a while, I will continue to walk way down there along that distant shoreline, but right now, I’m headed the other way, along the shoreline that leads into the larger part of the lake.


This is the Esten Lake boat launch parking area, which still has a lot of snow on it. I should also point out that this snow is deep enough to make walking across it difficult.


Walking down the shoreline, towards the larger part of Esten Lake.


The first campsite of the new season is revealed by the melting mass of white.


That snow down the middle of the trail is deceptively deep, and very difficult to walk in, so I walked mostly on those clear spots along the side of the trail.


There were a few clear spots along the shoreline, where I could come out to take a gander.


Here, you can clearly see the weakening of the ice close to shore. It won’t be long until I’m out there paddling once again.


Looking back, to the area of the boat launch, where I had come from.


I continued down that shoreline for a bit farther, and then I decided to head back towards the boat launch, because snow conditions were making the walking a bit difficult.


As you can see, the sky was a fantastic blue today, making for real nice pictures.


Back at the boat launch, this is where the dock usually sits in the water.


But, right now, it’s high a dry, until the meltdown opens up the lake.


I will now continue my walk down the opposite side of the shoreline.


Which is the shoreline you see behind this row of naked birch trees.


There is a bush road that goes in this way, but it’s not the greatest of roads, even in the summer time.


It did have some bare patches along it though, and also some melt water rivers running across it in places.


This road does go quite a ways into the bush, along the lake, but turns into more of an ATV trail, after it passes a large gravel pit area, where hunters like to target practice.


I’m headed to a place I know, where I might find more open water.


And here it is. A small pond on one side of the road.


And a large open area into the lake, on the other side.


Much of the area you can see in this picture is high and dry during the summer months. Only a small river, flowing from that pipe, and into the lake remains. Quite often, there will be a trailer parked on this site, since it is Crown Land.


It’s easy to tell which way is south, because all the hills with a southern exposure are clear of snow.


This is one of the first areas to open up, because of the constant flow through here, and into the lake.


The intrepid explorer, himself, makes a rare appearance, thanks to a passing bear who didn’t mind taking the shot.


Actually, I haven’t seen any sign of bears yet, after that hard winter. Last year the bears were all over the place in the spring. They had better make themselves scarce this spring, since the Spring Bear Hunt has been reinstated this year. What a slap in the face, after such a hard winter, to emerge from your den and be shot before you have a chance to enjoy the nice weather.


These oak leaves have been hanging on since last fall.


It’s amazing how fast new life begins though. As soon as some clear spots in the snow appear, so does the plant life.


There was a whole patch of these things on a southerly facing hillside.


Time to head back out.


Looking back, on my way out.


Some strange clouds started to roll in on the way out, making for some neat shots.


A spectacular sky.


What a great way to introduce a new spring.


Just a series of amazing sky shots on my way out.


Although I did see a couple of pickup trucks, and ATV’s in here today, I didn’t see anyone else walking.


For the most part, it was dead quiet, just the way I like it.


There just aren’t that many days as nice as this one, so it’s always such a treat that makes you feel glad to be alive.


It seems like ages since the trees last had leaves on them, but that can all change in as little as a week.


A flock of seagulls is also a sure sign of spring.


The town of Elliot Lake in the distance.


A long shot, at full zoom, of the Fire Tower Lookout, at about 4kms away.


What a beautiful day for a walk.


Now the real fun begins.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Nice to see that even though we are not far away you are about a week or so ahead of us in your snow melt and transition to spring. Love the photos, keep it up.


    • Thanks ic, every day we’re a step closer to being snow and ice free. I went out for a walk again today, and I just can’t believe where all the snow has gone. We had so much on the ground such a short time ago.


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