Hiking the Highways 8 – Plus

In this post, I will be including things that I did on two days, this is what the ‘Plus’ indicates, in the title of this post. I’ve been itching to get out in my kayak for some time now, but the weather just won’t cooperate. It’s nice enough, but it’s too windy for enjoyable paddling, or fishing, which is what I had intended for my next outing on the water.

However, I did want to do some recon, regarding a lake that I’ve known about ever since I arrived here in Elliot Lake. This lake is called Popeye Lake, and it is well-known here in Elliot Lake because the town is trying to sell cottage lots on it, and not having all that much luck I might add. In fact, Elliot Lake has big plans for many of the lakes in this area, given the special status that an agreement with the Provincial government gave them in the form of The Elliot Lake Act.

This agreement allows Elliot Lake to purchase Crown Land, in an area of about 360 square miles surrounding the town, from the government, and develop it for their own purposes. This could be a very lucrative project for the town, if they can sell the properties, which is the big question.

Personally, I don’t see this happening for many years down the road, but that’s just fine with me. I can still use these lakes in their pristine state, before any development begins. After, or if, they do develop them, it just won’t be the same, but that’s life.

Anyway, as I said, I wanted to check out Popeye Lake, as a possible fishing lake, because it does have a healthy population of Pickerel/Walleye, and this is the only scaled fish that I would bother keeping to eat. They are superb on the dinner plate, even though they take a bit more preparation than Trout do.

I’ve passed by the area of Popeye Lake many times but, for some reason or other, I just never went in that road. I had heard something about the lake being closed, when I first arrived here, and I just never thought to go in there after that. However, the issue was not closing the lake, it was about closing the lake to motors, what is called a ‘Green Lake’. This was a selling point that the town wanted, in order to possibly lure prospective buyers to purchase properties on the lake.

Many locals didn’t like this idea, since it was a well-used lake by fisherman, and it also had a camping area right on the lake, for people to stay overnight, should they wish. Now, that little perk is no longer available;


This is what happens when money meets wilderness. Money will win every time.


However, I did see signs of camping, although this picture is on the other side of a berm, separating two sections of this area. I don’t know if the sign only meant on the other side of the berm, but I guess you could always play dumb, and claim that you didn’t think the sign meant over this side too. πŸ™‚ You know the old saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness later, than to ask permission first”. My guess is, the only ones that would complain would be the few cottagers that are already on Popeye Lake.


Popeye Lake is not a huge lake, a trip around the perimeter in my kayak would be about 6km long. It’s a nice size though and, since it is the only ‘no motor’ lake that I know of around here, I would be guaranteed a quiet paddle.


It’s one of those long, narrower, lakes that never gets too rough, so that’s a bonus too.


Some of the shorelines are fairly scenic also, so what’s not to like? There are a couple of islands on the lake, I won’t know if they are campable until I get my kayak in here, but I do know that there are two official campsites at the far end of the lake, on the mainland.

IMG_0013 Panorama

Like I said, there’s this large open area, right beside the lake, where people used to camp, but they’ve put a berm right down the middle of it. I don’t know what that is, but maybe I’ll find out at some point.

Anyway, I did my recon, and then I headed out. I should mention that, on the way out, I ran into a bear, the first one I’ve actually seen this year. Keep reading, this trend was to continue.

Now, lets switch to the title story, ‘Hiking the Highways 8’.

I’ve been watching for a day that might be acceptable to kayak, and fish, but it seems that I’m getting more hiking weather, than the latter, so far be it from me to turn down a perfectly good day for hiking. It was really hot and humid yesterday, but a cold front moved through last night and cooled things off real nice. Today turned out to be a cool, sunny, and breezy day, a great day to continue my ‘Hiking the Highways’ series of posts.

To that end, I headed north on Highway 108, which continues into Highway 639, which now turns into Highway 546, which is the section of road that I will be covering today.


I parked the truck close to the last place I left off, the bridge over the Little White River, which is just around the corner there.


And then, as usual, I headed north, on a stretch of quiet, hard topped, but definitely not smooth, roadway.


Of course, I have to throw in a few wildflowers along the way.


The first section of road was relatively flat, in fact, most of the road I hiked today was flat, except for one moderate hill.


I came to a small one-lane bridge, which I was already familiar with, since I had driven over it a number of times. This was the bridge over the Kindiogami River.


Looking up the river to the east.


Looking down the river to the west.


Heading across.


I got to an intersection where the hard surfaced road went right, and this gravel road went left, into the bush. My son, and my brother, will remember this road from our Spring Trip. It’s the Kindiogami logging road, which, eventually, turns into a very patchy, and rough, bush road, as it stretches across from here, to Highway 129, near Aubrey Falls, about 60kms. However, today I was not going that way, I would be continuing on the hard surfaced road, known as Highway 546 for this hike.


Another interesting sign at that intersection. Now that would probably be one of the scariest things in this vast wilderness. πŸ™‚


I continue on my intended course, against all odds.


I won’t reach that point today, but we’re getting just about as far north as paved roads go in this area, just to give you an idea of how remote this is.


Again, there are many smaller roads heading off into the bush, which I chose not to follow on this hike.


After a while, I came to another small one-lane bridge. This one is over Camp 8 Creek. I believe Camp 8 was an old mining, or logging camp in the area at one time.


Looking east, up the river, I could see an ATV bridge.


Looking west, down the river. Notice, also, the difference in these two pictures, because of the way the sun in shining. Lighting is everything in photography.


Looking back, after I had crossed the bridge. I saw very few vehicles this far north.

IMG_0026 Panorama

Just after that bridge, there were a bunch of smaller roads going into the bush. This is the only place that I went off the highway that I was hiking today. I wanted to get in to see that ATV bridge.


Here it is.


Looking back to the bridge on the highway that I had already crossed.


I went back out to the highway, to continue my hike.


As you can see, it was a beautiful day and, best of all, it wasn’t too hot, and there were very few bugs in most places.


Hmmm, how unfortunate, one vehicle every hour and it chose to run right under one of them.

It was just then that something caught my eye, a bit further up the road. Something black, and furry.


Do you see what I see?


This was a mother bear, and she wasn’t alone.


One thing you don’t want to do is make a mother bear, with a cub, feel threatened in any way. They will defend any perceived threat without mercy.

I knew that I had not yet been perceived as a threat, and I wasn’t even certain that they had seen me yet, so I continued to take pictures.


These pictures were taken over a period of time. They would disappear on the side of the road, and then emerge again, onto the roadway.


It might seem that I’m pretty close here, but I’m not taking any chances. My truck is far away, and I’m on foot. I know that there’s no way I could outrun this bear, if it chose to attack me. I have my camera lens on full zoom, and I’m probably a hundred feet away from them.


Still, it’s a very sobering, and somewhat privileged feeling also, to be standing here, with little means of protection, and watching these animals in their own environment.

I’ve been much, much closer to bigger bears than this, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been as close to a cub as this.


I had been here for quite a while now, watching them weaving from one side of the road to the other. I believe that they were munching on raspberries as they went, since I had seen some along the road today.


They seemed like they weren’t going too far from the road, so I decided to take the prudent approach and end my hike here. I probably wouldn’t have gone too much farther anyways, and you just never know what a mother bear might do, if she felt threatened. Sure, she could just run off into the bush, with her cub but, she may also feel that it’s too late to run, and eviscerate me where I stand. I had just gotten over a broken right hand, and a cracked left wrist, so being eviscerated didn’t seem all that appealing.


I retreated back down the only hill I had come up today.


I saw some deer tracks on the side of the road, on the way back down.


Berries in the bush.


Only 40kms back to Elliot Lake. Fortunately, I don’t have to walk that far. Or at least I don’t think I do? You just never know way out here in no man’s land. There is no cell service, and vehicles are few, and far between.


Back across the Kindiogami River.


This is what those bears were after.


These are nice too.


Looking back, from whence I came, as I near the end of my hike for today. It was a shortened hike but, nevertheless, a rewarding one. And, best of all, I live to hike another day. πŸ™‚

I have the intention of getting up early tomorrow morning and heading to Popeye Lake, for some exploring, and Pickerel fishing. Whether that will come to be, or not, is anyone’s guess, but it is my intention at this moment, so stay tuned.


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