Sun-Day

In both senses of the word, the weather, and the day of the week, today was a beautiful sunny day, and I just had to get out in it. I did get out a little bit late, because I was working on my new exploration vehicle, the Packlite, which I just received on Friday. However, this new addition may have just hit a snag, but I won’t really know for sure for a couple of days. Stay tuned on that one.

Anyway, I decided to head over to the Quirke TMA(Tailings Management Area) because I knew that it was a fairly open site, and I wanted to take in all that beautiful sunshine, while I hiked around a lake within that area.

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This place is about a 15 minute drive, north of town, on Hwy 108, and the entrance is exactly where 108 turns into 639. I was encouraged to see that there were no other vehicles parked there when I arrived. After all, this is a Sunday, and there tend to be more people around on the weekends, especially if the weather is nice.

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I arrived at the gate, and parked my truck. I don’t know if this is a new gate, or if they just painted it, but these gates are typically painted yellow, not green, so I wondered why the change?

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I headed in to this large open site, already keenly aware of the absolute silence that awaits.

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The dirt road, that goes into the site, goes up a fairly substantial hill right away, but once you make it up that one, this whole site is fairly level, which is rare for this rugged, and hilly area.

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I’m just getting to the top of that hill now.

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A couple of large, old timbers lying at the top of the hill.

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I do know this site, so I knew where I wanted to go. That way.

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There were some remaining relics around from the ice age that had just passed through, but you will see that the ice is starting to recede off the lakes.

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There was a bit of a breeze today, and this site, being so open, can get pretty cool, but the breeze wasn’t at all annoying, since I tend to get hot when I’m walking, even in the dead of winter.

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I headed into the distance, and I actually did walk farther than you can see there, around the whole perimeter of the lake.

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As you can see, the snow is definitely losing its battle with the sun now.

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Looking back, on the road that I’m on.

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This is one of the man-made causeways, that run along the top of these rock dams that divide this lake up into separate sections.

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There is rugged landscape around this area but, like I said, this very large site is mostly level.

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More of the rocky surroundings.

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Yep, there is some open water and, in the distance there, you can see one of those causeways, I was talking about, running across the lake.

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I was singing ‘The Long and Winding Road’ while walking through here. I forgot to bring my little music player, so I had to improvise 🙂

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Looking out, over the lake, you can see how the ice is weakening.

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I spooked a flock of geese.

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Hmmm. Verwwwy Intewestink….

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Oh, more open water. Where’s my kayak!

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Walking along one of those causeways that crosses the lake.

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A small island.

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Them there are Sandhill Crane tracks.

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Time to head into the bush for a bit.

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I won’t be going that way today.

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But, I will be going that way.

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More Sandhill Crane tracks, in the snow this time.

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Into the silence I go. By the way, I’m not singing now. Just wanted to make that clear 🙂

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That tree still has some leaves on it from last year.

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I’m coming back out of the bush now.

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Look at that blue sky!

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Lots of nice scenery to be had around here.

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You see these rock dams in most of the mine sites. They’re used to contain water that has not been treated, and to prevent it from entering the surrounding watershed.

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Another small lake along the way, which is outside the Tailings Management Area.

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Another shot of that same small lake. Very scenic.

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I happen to know where I’m going today, although I do have my GPS with me but, it should be pointed out that these mine sites are riddled with gravel/dirt roads that can go for miles and miles, and then just suddenly end, in the middle of nowhere. So, it’s not a given that, just because you’re on a road, you can’t get lost.

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Looking back from whence I came.

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Hmm, could be Elk tracks. This site is a well-known hang-out for a herd of Elk that roams this area.

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Yep, I’m a long way from where I started, but I’m still not quite half way around yet.

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Oh boy, looks like I’ve run into some snow I’ll have to trudge through. Fortunately, I’m still wearing my winter boots. I wasn’t born yesterday ya know. In fact, it was so long ago, I can’t even remember. 🙂

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Okay, I made it through the snow. No problem for this experienced outdoorsman.

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I just love this rugged country, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be lost in it.

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More snow to negotiate.

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Nope, I’m not at the half-way point yet.

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Still fighting my way through patches of snow.

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I will, eventually, be on the other side there.

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Time to start singing that song again? Nah, I guess I’ll just tough it out, and walk silently onwards.

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It is a nice walk though, isn’t it? I know what you’re thinking, “Ya, nice and long” 🙂

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More beautiful scenery along the way.

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I always look back now and then, just in case there’s a Sasquatch following me. 🙂

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Hmmm, I wonder why they dug this chunk of road out here? Maybe there’s something up there that they don’t want me to see. Ordinarily I’d go and look, but I already have a long way to walk, so not today.

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Ya, it’s a long way back, and I’m just about to turn that corner.

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And around I go.

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More nice scenery.

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That’s Gravelpit Lake way out there.

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Zoomed in for a closer look, you can see there is some open water on the lake. I’m now, officially, at the half-way point of this walk. However, this post is getting about a long as that walk was, and it’s getting late, so I’m going to have to finish it tomorrow. Don’t go away, I’ll be back, as Arnold would say. 🙂

Okay, so it’s Monday morning, and another bright sunny day, so I want to try and finish this post early, so that I can enjoy some of that sunshine.

When I left off yesterday, I had reached the half-way point of my journey through the Quirke TMA. I’m just passing Gravelpit Lake, and rounding the bend towards the return side.

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Another rock dam at the end of the lake covering the tailings from the Quirke mine. The tailings are like a coarse sand, which most of the uranium has been extracted from, but not all. Therefore, they need to keep these tailings under water to prevent oxidization, which will produce an acid that gives off radon gas, which then breaks down and gives off radioactive particles.

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I’m going to turn another corner, in just a bit, and head back along that shoreline you can see here. Keep in mind, as I said before, there are other dirt roads going off the one I’m on, I’m just choosing the route that I know.

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I will be going along all the shoreline you can see in this picture, and quite a bit farther.

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That dirt road you see there leads all the way over to Gravelpit Lake. I’ve never hiked that one yet. I’ll have to come here another time, with the intention of hiking that road.

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Ahead, you can see where I will be turning right, towards the starting point of today’s hike. I could also go left there, which, like I mentioned, leads down towards Gravelpit Lake.

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After today, the weather is expected to turn very rainy for a long stretch so I expect, when I get back out again, that the lakes will be free, or almost free, of ice.

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More rugged and scenic terrain.

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I’m now on the return trip, but don’t hold your breath.

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Over there you might just be able to see a yellow fence. That’s a water testing site that the Denison workers need to get into all year round, for the purpose of water quality testing. I’m going over there, so there will be closer pictures.

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Looking out into the main part of the lake. By the way, this lake is known as Bud Lake, but it is sectioned off into eight separate bodies of water, by those rock dams with causeways on top.

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I’m going to turn left there, and head into the water testing site, but I’ll have to come back out this way, and continue straight when I’m done.

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I take a lot of pictures when I come here because the scenery is so captivating. At least it is to me.

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Here is part of the water quality testing site. I’m no water quality technician, but I’m guessing that they sample water coming through that narrow channel they’ve created at the bottom of that stairway. I’ve also noticed at other sites like this, that they seem to want only the top layer of the water to escape into the next body of water. This might be because the known contaminants will sink towards the bottom, and that leaves the top relatively clean.

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Watch your step!

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Back on the main road again.

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The trees are showing signs of budding, some more than others.

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There were some interesting shapes in the remaining snow that seemed to defy gravity. Over a much, much longer term, you can see the same types of shapes in rock, at different locations around the world.

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Everywhere I look is another picture. Just for the record, I don’t use expensive cameras, I can’t afford one. The camera I’m using here only cost me $26. on ebay.

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The last time I came to this rock cut, a single raven flew out, barking its discontent at me for ruining the quiet, warm roost it was inhabiting. Today, a raven, possibly the same one, again, flew out as I approached. It could be a nesting site.

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They’ve obviously done some blasting here, possibly to make those rock dams that are so prevalent in this site in particular.

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Lots of iron in this rock, as you can tell from the orangey colour of rust.

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I move on from the rock cut. I’m not one to stay in one place very long, that’s why I don’t make a very good fisherman. I need to have constantly changing horizons, as Jon Krakauer mentions in the quote that I have on my Welcome page. I don’t mind going back to the same places now and then, because there’s always something new to see, but I also need to keep pushing into the unknown, at least unknown to me that is.

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I do love to walk, and it’s great exercise, but I can overdo it sometimes. I tend to forget that I’m not 18 years old anymore. Hell, I can’t even remember back that far. Still, this is what I do now, and I do it as much as I possibly can.

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Another eroded snow shape.

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I think that the elk like it here because there are a lot of flat, open areas for them to graze, which is very rare in this unforgiving rugged Canadian Shield.

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It doesn’t hurt that it’s easy to walk on either. Animals like to follow the path of least resistance, just like humans. But, animals need to be constantly aware of any possible threats, so I’m suspecting that the elk are mostly here at night.

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The angle of the sun is a bit better on this side for taking pictures. When I shoot more into the sun, than away from it, pictures tend to get a bit washed out. That is, the colour is not as defined.

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This is one of the sections of the lake that has been partitioned off with a rock dam/causeway, which you might be able to barely make out in the distance.

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In the winter, when everything is covered in snow, it’s very difficult to get good pictures because there are no contrasting colours. And, if it happens to be cloudy in winter, which it, more often than not, is, then the sky is also white, so it makes for very drab pictures.

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Hang in there, I’m getting closer to the starting point now.

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Just as I was getting close to the end, a couple of people came in riding bicycles, and this is a perfect site for bicycle riding, since it is mostly flat, and the roads are fairly good.

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This bird had been flying ahead of me for a long time now. Every time I got close enough, and took my camera out, it would fly farther ahead. I finally saw my chance, but it was quite far away, so I put the camera on full zoom, and even then, I had to crop this picture 3 or 4 times to get it close enough. I’m not a bird expert, but I’m thinking that this might be a kestrel. I saw one of these over by Horne Lake the other day too.

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So, we can all breath a sigh of relief now. I’m back on the top of the hill where I first came in to this site.

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Going down is always so much more enjoyable, but I need the uphills to keep me in shape too.

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A couple of last shots on the way out.

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And there’s the truck waiting for me, with all four wheels attached! I always wonder when I have to leave my truck parked in some pretty remote places, if someone might take advantage of the situation. It does happen around here, and that’s why I always keep comprehensive coverage on my truck now. Nothing like getting back to your vehicle in the middle of nowhere, only to find out that it’s not going to roll without any wheels.

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