Lacnor Highs and Lows

It was promising to be a sunny, cooler day, and I really felt like getting out there to enjoy it. There was too much wind for kayaking, so I chose a good workout instead. Lacnor Ridge, or Pole Ridge, as I first named it, before I knew the proper name, is not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you make it to the top, then it’s likely your heart is in fine shape.
I hadn’t done Lacnor Ridge for a while, and I did want to bring the new camera up there, now that I’ve made some adjustments to the wind noise, and volume settings. Also, this was the first full sunny day that I’ve had to take pictures and videos with this camera. So, here we go. Bring your hiking boots, and your walking stick, you will definitely need them.


Just after I parked the car outside the Lacnor Mine site gate, I thought I would try out the quality of this camera at full zoom. Keep in mind, full zoom on this camera is 35X, which is pretty impressive.

The detail in this picture is nothing short of incredible, and the lens on this camera is surely it’s savior. I mentioned the biggest drawback of this Canon PowerShot SX40HS already, but it deserves mentioning again, because it is a big one. If the camera is turned off, and you suddenly see something you want to take a picture of, you will not be able to do so for at least ten seconds. Sure, the camera will start in less than 3 seconds, but the Auto-Focus will not load for another 6 or 7 seconds, which is completely unacceptable. (I have now been considering that this may be a malfunction and I have contacted Canon support to verify this. I will update this situation when I have more information.)
Update;  Even though I have not received an answer from Canon support yet, I have now got the camera working properly.  It now starts up as it should, in less than 3 seconds, and I can only attribute this to user error.  Like I said, I’ve been playing with the different settings, and I must have done something wrong.  Anyway, all is now well in camera land.
I’m really very happy with the overall performance of this camera, and I certainly don’t regret buying it.


A shot of the daytime moon, just over the treetops. Yes, the treetops are blurred because I’m focused on the moon, which is much further away.


The gate at the Lacnor Mine site. By the way, the name Lacnor comes from close by Nordic Lake, Lac-Nor.


It seems to be way too early for these colors to be showing up, but it is what it is.


That is some serious color too.


The pavement ends after about a half a kilometer, and then it’s just the regular dirt/gravel roads you see in all the mine sites. I was walking along, taking in all my surroundings, when I saw a movement in an open area to the right. It was far away but it didn’t take my eyes long to focus in on what it was.


Brace yourself because, this picture was taken from about 200 yards away, at full zoom, by this amazing camera. I’ve never owned a camera that can do this, and I didn’t even think it was possible.


Sure, pixel peepers will definitely find flaws in these pictures, but these were taken hand-held at full zoom, at a distance of about 200 yards. Unbelievable!


When I took them, I didn’t know how they turned out, because it’s very hard to see detail on the small camera screen. But, when I loaded them up on my computer and saw them, I was in shock. The detail at that distance was nothing short of phenomenal. By the way, for those who might not know, this is a Sandhill Crane.


I continued on, not knowing how well those pictures had turned out. Still, no matter how good a camera might be, it is still susceptible to both poor lighting, and user error, since I have a lot to learn about camera settings, and how to use them.

The main road goes to the right, but I’m taking the lesser used road, because there is a way to get to the top of Lacnor Ridge down this way a bit.


I’m still seeing these strange mushrooms on the gravel roads, everywhere I go in the mine sites. Maybe they are fallout fungi? 🙂


This is where I go up, a loose boulder field. One wrong step and you have a broken ankle, or worse, you go rolling down the boulder field, breaking every bone in your body on the way down.


Looking down, through the trees, you can see the dirt road down there. I’m not even a quarter of the way up yet.


Wow, that was a real workout, as it always is. Once I get to the top, I have to bushwhack my way, through mosquito territory, to get to this spot. Was it worth it? Damn right it was.


That light strip you see in the middle there is the Lookout Tower road.


The infamous lone hydro pole, left over from the mining era, with two transformers still attached to it, one at the top, and one at the bottom.


Hmm, that petroglyph looks to be about two years old. I wonder how I would know that? 🙂


Like I said, I’m real happy with the way this camera is performing, and I’m not used to all the settings yet either. Just click on that picture, to get an even closer look, and you can even click again to get even closer. The amount of detail, for that kind of distance, is staggering.

It’s also important to note that this detail is not, in any way, related to a higher mega-pixel rating. In fact, Canon downgraded the SX40 to 12.1 mega-pixels, from the 14 mega-pixels that the previous SX30 had. The reason for the improvement in picture quality is both the new back-lit CMOS sensor, and the new Digic 5 image processor that they gave the SX40.

The popular feeling is that Canon is reining in the capabilities of these bridge cameras, so that they don’t lose sales on the much more expensive dSLR cameras, by limitations created in the firmware that cripple certain functions intentionally. However, even though many of the, so called, professionals are throwing a hissy fit over this, these crippled functions are easily enabled by using the CHDK software that is freely available for download, and installation on most Canon cameras. I have installed this software on my camera, so it no longer has those firmware limitations.

Here’s the first video from the top of Lacnor Ridge. Keep in mind, I’m still in the learning process, especially when it comes to videos. The wind noise is still quite an issue, and I can see that I’m panning too fast, and I’ll try to correct that as I learn more. Also, I should mention that this camera shoots video in the MOV file format, which cannot be directly uploaded to YouTube, without losing a lot of quality. However, Canon, to their credit, did see this as a possible problem, and they have included a nice little YouTube upload software with the camera. Using this software is very easy, and you don’t even have to go to the YouTube site to upload these videos.

When the camera is zoomed in it is very difficult to hold it steady during videos. I used to use the YouTube tools to fix shake in my videos, but that does not work with this camera. Again, too much quality is lost if you use YouTube tools to fix camera shake. I just have to learn to hold the camera more steady, or use a tripod.

I really don’t feel that the camera is the problem when it comes to wind noise. Any camera, or microphone is going to have the same problem with that kind of wind.

IMG_0081 Panorama

Here’s a panorama from the top, again, stellar image quality. I don’t create my panoramas in camera, I just take 3 overlapping pictures, and once I have them on my computer, I use a free program called PTgui to stitch them together.

Again, I would encourage you to click on this picture, and just be in awe of the long distance detail. Once it loads up, you can also click on it again, in any one spot that you want it to zoom in on. Just unbelievable quality.


Here’s another picture, just for quality purposes. That’s the old Fire Tower, which used to have a cupola on top of it. It is 1.2 kilometers away from where I took this hand-held picture. Just click on it and be amazed at the detail for such a long distance.


It’s not only the detail in these pictures that is amazing, the color rendering is also superb.


I have a couple more videos from up top, so I’ll put them up next, and then we’ll go down to the bottom of Lacnor Ridge to get that perspective.

Again, I want to point out that much of the problem with these videos is user error, and not the fault of the camera. Anyone who has followed the ultra-light kayak debacle will know that I’m not one to pull punches when it comes to product quality. I tell it like I see it, and I do feel that this is what anyone looking for information on a product that they are interested in would want. I know that this is what I would want.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with this Canon PowerShot SX40HS. I’ve looked into the newer model called the SX50, and I’ve decided that the changes made to that model do not encourage upgrading, now, or ever. There is talk about an SX60 in the works, but chasing the newest model is really not my style. It can soon enough drive one to bankruptcy. I’m more likely to pick my spot, research the hell out of it, make my decision and stick to it. That’s what I’ve done here, and I’m satisfied.


Not only am I satisfied with the camera, but I’m pretty satisfied overall, both healthwise, and locationwise, to be able to come to places like this any time I want.

At this point, I headed back down the treacherous loose boulder field, to the bottom of the Lacnor Mine site. I wanted to get views from both the top, and the bottom of Lacnor Ridge. Since this is mid-summer, and all the leaves are still on the trees, it’s not as easy to see the magnificence of this huge rock face, that continues all along the Lacnor site, for almost a kilometer.

Anyway, here’s a video from below the ridge, just to give you an idea of what it looks like from the low side.

It’s easy to see how windy it was, and it was even worse on top, so I’m not going to judge wind noise in these conditions. I will say though, that the wind noise filter on the camera did not seem to make all that much difference.

Here’s a panorama of the ridge from below;

IMG_0110 Panorama

After getting all the pictures, and video, that I wanted, I started to head back out, towards where I had parked the truck. However, I got a bit of a surprise that I wasn’t expecting, on the way out.

As I walk through these places, my eyes, and ears, are always scanning from side to side, and I caught a glimpse of something that is now very familiar. It was the top of a candy cane shaped pipe, a vent pipe for a mine shaft.

I have been to the Lacnor Mine site many times before, but I’ve never been able to locate the actual mine shaft, and now I know why. It’s buried in the bush, and very difficult to see.


I made my way into where I saw it, so that I could confirm that it was, indeed, the Lacnor shaft.


And there you have it.


For those who can’t read sideways. 🙂

The Lacnor Mine was in operation from 1957 to 1960, which is not all that long. The shaft depth went to 3,663 feet, and was a four compartment shaft. I’m not sure what that means, but that is the way that it is described.

I don’t believe that the Lacnor Mine had it’s own milling facilities, so I’m not sure about tailings location for this mine. The material from the mine would have been transported to another location to be milled. I found it difficult to determine where the mine tailings from this site ended up, possibly in Dumbell Lake, North Nordic Lake, or even Nordic Lake, which wasn’t all that close. I have seen documentation suggesting that effluent from the Lacnor mine process was being treated at the Nordic Mine facility.

It should also be noted that treatment and monitoring of all these mining wastes will be a perpetual concern, since some of the radioactive elements will last for many thousands of years.

It has been suggested that these mining wastes could be deposited in a deep water lake, therefore insuring water coverage for many years to come, but, of course, there is resistance to this idea. Quirke Lake was the intended target for this procedure, but I’m sure that the many, well-to-do cottage/house owners on Quirke Lake would be opposed to such a move. So, to this day, they are still monitoring mining wastes which have been contained in various locations specifically created for that purpose. However, it has been shown that these locations are not as secure, since there have been accidental spills into the surrounding watershed.

To me, the damage is already done, and now there’s no getting rid of it. Nobody wants radioactive waste dumped in their backyard, even though they may have benefited from the production of those mines, in one way or another. This is typical for humans, they don’t, at all, mind having a crap in their own toilet, as long as they can flush it out of sight as fast as possible, and then it’s not their concern anymore. Even the fact that they’re using their own drinking water to do so, doesn’t seem to register as not such a good idea.

Is there hope for humanity? Well, the Tao Te Ching says that hope is as hollow as fear, so don’t be placing your bets on that one. The only thing that matters is what we do now, because that’s all there is.



6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by David Rowe on April 16, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Hi, Thanks for these postings. I live in Australia now but in 57 to 1959 I lived at the Lacnor townsite. I lived in the Managers house, on the hill above the townsite on Sheriff Lake. I have many vivid memories of the area. I climbed the ridge many a time with other kids and my Dad. There was a mill on site at Lacnor. I visited a number of times. The tailings were sent to the lake away from the ridge, I forget its name. The environment was of little concern back then, sadly. Nature of course is claiming it back but it will take many generations to right itself.


    • David, Oye Mate!! It’s always great to hear from you guys who worked in this rugged environment back then. I’ll be thinking of you every time I climb that ridge now. It’s quite the view from up there, isn’t it? Yes, I’ve seen pictures of the site when the buildings were still there. I believe the tailings from this site were sent to Nordic Lake, if I’m not mistaken. Yep, the environment did take a beating because of the waste products of the mining, and some of that damage can never be undone, but visually, things are looking better now, and the foliage, and wildlife seem to be improving. I think that the most unfortunate thing is that, even though we know better now, we still allow these huge mining, oil, and lumber companies to devastate the land that we need to live on, for profits. There will be a reckoning, and we are not going to like it.


  2. Posted by David Rowe on May 22, 2015 at 3:56 am

    Well, I didn’t work, my Dad did, but I certainly worked the wild. It was a fantastic spot. I still reminisce often. How long have you been in Elliot Lake? This place was a kid’s paradise. The lake, the creek and the bush.The fishing trips my Dad took me on. We spent one summer on the Spanish American townsite just after it closed. I had use of the mine boat on Quirke. I was very popular with the other kids.
    I have a couple of photos of the Lacnor town site. I happen to be a member of the Green party here in Tasmania. We have constant battles and most we lose. Yes the day of reckoning is coming. I have no confidence in our future.


    • Hey David;
      I’ve been in Elliot Lake just over 3 1/2 years now, and I’ve put thousands of kilometers on my feet, and probably about a thousand kilometers on my kayak too. This is not only a kids paradise, although I’m sure it was, when you were a kid, it’s a paradise for anyone who loves the wilderness, young or old.

      I’d be interested in seeing those Lacnor townsite pictures, if you could email them to me. I’m guessing that they are not of the digital type though, so you would need access to a scanner. No worries if it’s a problem though.

      Wow, you really went way out there, when you left Elliot Lake. You are down under the down under, so to speak. Quite a contrast to the rocky, rugged, Canadian Shield I would think. Or, is it just warmer there? 🙂

      You might be interested in a post I just put up on my new blog. I did an exploration of the former Stanrock townsite. You can find it here;


  3. Posted by David Rowe on June 26, 2015 at 3:23 am

    I sent some photos of the townsite on your hotmail. Did you get them?


  4. Hey David, thank you for doing that, but I did not receive them. The email address is


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