Post 200 – Hike to Gravelpit Lake

Yep, this is my 200th post. Of course, I had no idea, when I began this blog, that it would go this far, and I have no idea when it might end, but that’s life, right? All I can say right now is, it’s been a great ride, and I’m eager to continue my explorations into the unknown, and beyond, wherever life takes me.

Speaking of the unknown, that’s exactly where I’m headed today. I’ve been saying, for quite a while, that I would, some day, return to the Quirke TMA(Tailings Management Area) to, specifically, do the hike down to Gravelpit Lake, which is right at the end of the site.

This is a map of my hike that I created on Google Maps. Here is the track that my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 created, as I hiked;

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As you can see from these maps, I went well past Gravelpit Lake, and the reason for that was, I had no idea that I had already been to Gravelpit Lake a number of times. I just didn’t realize it. Now that I’ve actually looked, carefully, at the maps, I can see that the lake I was referring to as Gravelpit Lake, was actually a small part of Dunlop Lake.

What piqued my curiosity was, that I saw a motorboat on the lake, when I was in there, and I was sure that motorboats could not get into Gravelpit Lake. Anyway, I did pass Gravelpit Lake, so we can still call this post Hike to Gravelpit Lake, but the hike ended, actually, at Dunlop Lake.

I’m really liking using the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 as a GPS. As you can see, it’s very accurate. Just to give you some more insight on how accurate this GPS is. I always stop at Timmies(Tim Horton’s) for my coffee and muffin, when I finish a day trip. Here is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2’s rendition of that stop, going through the Drive Thru;

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Not perfectly exact, but definitely impressive, considering that the unit was inside this neoprene case;

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This was, also, inside my backpack, and inside the truck, while I was driving. So, taking all that into consideration, I’d say that this GPS is working out great.

Now, for the hike itself. It was probably the most perfect day for a hike I could have asked for. It was sunny, not too hot, and there was enough wind to keep the bugs at bay, which made it not such a nice day for kayaking. That’s why I chose to do a hike today, instead of taking my kayak out.

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The Quirke TMA is a very open, flat, site, for the most part, with lots of water, and lots of sun.

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There are a lot of these raised rock causeways, running around, and through, the lake, dividing it up into different sections.

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This whole area is closed to any kind of water activities, including boating, and fishing, although, on my way in, I did see this guy with a dip net, trying to catch minnows in one of the tailings ponds. I said to him, “You do realize that this is a tailings management pond, don’t you”? He said, “Yes, but I’m desperate, because the bait shops in town are all out of minnows.” I said, “I didn’t think there were any fish in here.” He said, “Yes, there are, I catch them here all the time.” I wished him a good day, and continued on.

Shortly after that, I saw a pickup truck coming towards me. It was a Dension Environmental employee, checking the site, and I knew that he would not be too happy to see that guy fishing for minnows. I don’t know what happened, because I was out of sight before the two crossed paths. This is exactly why I didn’t go past those signs I saw on my last hike, in the Stanleigh mine site. I know that these guys patrol all the sites regularly, it is mandated by the government that these old uranium mines be closely monitored.

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I saw tons of Elk tracks on my hike today. They like this area because, as I said, it’s flat, and open, with a number of grassy areas.

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I did not see a raven at this rock cut today, as I have every other time I’ve passed it before.

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Yes, the water in this section of the lake is really that green.

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The intrepid explorer, on the long, and winding, road.

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This shot gives a good idea of what most of this site is like. However, today I would be heading into a new section, which is dense bush.

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Here’s the side road I’ll be taking, down into the bush. I did see signs of bears on the way in, so my senses were at high alert, as I walked. I did have my little music player with me though, so that they would hear me coming.

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The road got narrower, and the bush got thicker. Pretty soon the mosquitoes showed up.

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This was prime bear country, and I knew it. They like to hide out in the cooler, darker, parts of the bush in the day time, and forage for food at night. Still, I was confident that Triumph, Ozzie Osborne, and Green Day would keep me safe from any harm.:-)

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After a while, the bush opened up to a large swamp.

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Just an empty shell.

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Out there, is what I have been calling Gravelpit Lake, which I now know is a small inlet from Dunlop Lake. Quite often I check maps before I go into an area, and when I actually get there, things look completely different than they looked on the map. Our minds play strange tricks on us sometimes, and this is the case here.

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Right down there, by the rocks, is where this road ends.

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There’s a small dam between the swamp area, and the small inlet from Dunlop Lake.

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The beavers didn’t like that dam, so they built one of their own, about twenty feet in front of it.

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It was right here, at the end of the road, that I started the GPS tracking feature, so that it would track me on the way back out, and I left it on right through the drive back to town. The Galaxy still had 94% charge when I arrived home. I’ve learned to keep it in Power Save mode now, so it uses much less energy.

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Right at the end of the road, looking back towards the return trip.

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It was so nice out today, I hardly broke a sweat through the whole hike, which is unusual for me.

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These huge, cactus-like weeds, were everywhere in here.

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I also saw raspberries…..

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and blueberries, although they’re not quite blue yet.

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Of course, colourful wildflowers are everywhere also.

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Even though this is a very flat, and open, area, there’s no forgetting that the surrounding wilderness is rugged, and unforgiving.

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I still can’t believe how low the water levels are this summer. Where did all that snow melt go to? Could it be that someone is sucking the Great Lakes dry in order to fill empty aquifers, after they were emptied by fracking? Hmmm, I have my suspicions.

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I make my way back, along the causeways, enjoying every moment of this fantastic weather.

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These types of testing facilities are located all along the causeways.

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Yep, it was a fine day for a hike.

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Heading back out to the truck.

I’m thinking my next outing will include a paddle and water, we’ll see.

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