Strike Two

I don’t usually go back to the same location twice in a row, but I did want to continue my exploration of the Panel mine site. The last time I was there, I went off course a bit, and ended up exploring a road that I hadn’t intended on exploring that day. But, I would have explored it at some point, so all is well.

Today, I’m going to explore the road that I intended to explore the last time I was here. This is the road that goes around Strike Lake. I’ll tell ya right now, this was a tough hike, since the terrain was very rugged, and very hilly. The weather was not quite as nice as it was the last time I was here, and the skies were fairly cloudy, although the sun did peep out now and then.

The Panel mine site is a bit more remote than many of the other mine sites and, certainly, the area I will be hiking today is as remote as the Panel mine site gets. On the northern border of this area, there is nothing but pure wilderness, no roads, no ATV trails, nothing. This fact made it even more attractive to me to get back to, and I had to work pretty hard to get all the way in there.

So, let’s put our hiking boots on and hit the dirt for another adventure in the bush.

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You might recall, the last time I was here, this road was not fully open yet, after a construction project, which went over a month long. They replaced the large pipes that funnel the Serpent River underneath Panel Mine Road, as you can see here. These two new plastic coated metal pipes are about 8 feet in diameter, so they shouldn’t have any trouble handling the amount of water that flows down here. The road is now fully open, and the construction crews have gone.

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When I arrived at the Panel Mine site, the sky looked very promising, as it was the last time I was here. However, the clouds rolled in soon after I arrived, and I was left with mostly white skies, which is one of the worst things for taking pictures. The only conditions worse than this are when there is snow on the ground, and cloudy skies.

Nevertheless, I was here, and I intended to do this hike today, so onward I marched. The air was cool, and there was a bit more wind than the last time I hiked here.

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I’m not going to post a lot of pictures of areas that I’ve already covered in the last post, but I did want to point out that, at this junction, the road to the right goes to the pump house, that I was thinking I would reach, when I followed the road I was on last time.
I haven’t gone down that way yet, and I won’t be going there today either. I will be staying left here, to continue my last hike from the area of the dam, at the end of the no name lake.

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Of course, I won’t be ignoring my mushroom friends along the way either. 🙂

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The cloudy skies don’t bother the closeup shots, in fact, I feel closeups turn out better with cloudy skies.

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I was looking down at the ground a lot, on the way in, because I wanted to keep an eye out for animal tracks too.

So, now I’m entering new territory, and I will start to post more pictures of this area, since I haven’t covered it yet.

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It became very clear, pretty soon, that this road was going to be more challenging than the last road I explored at this site.

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There were substantial hills, and the road looked much less used in some places.

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This sorry excuse for a road came out at another dam on the perimeter of Strike Lake. Keep in mind, they put these dams in place in order to isolate a lake that holds mine tailings, from the rest of the natural watershed.

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Up on top of this dam, I found human tracks, probably from the maintenance workers, and Moose tracks too.

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The view, to the east, from the top of the dam.

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Strike Lake, to the west, from the top of the dam.

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The dam, holding back the compromised waters of Strike Lake.

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Heading down, off the dam, into the bush again.

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The road, leading down, off the dam. I doubt that the maintenance workers come here all that often, but they do come here, because I did see tire tracks on top of the dam.

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A last look at the back of this dam, as I head deeper into the unknown.

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In this area, I’m either going up, or I’m going down, and it doesn’t really matter which because, if I’m going down, I’ll be going up on the way back.

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More fabulous fungi.

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I did pass other roads, and paths, going into the bush here. This one appears to be an ATV trail. My feeling was that this is a hunters trail, even though hunting is not allowed in these mine sites. But, during my explorations of these sites, I’m developing a feeling that these restrictions are only put in place to protect the land owners, in case someone tries to sue them for any kind of illness, or injury. I don’t believe that they actually intentionally enforce any of the these restrictions, at least not purposefully.

Also, I expect that animals, that are used to these areas, might feel a bit more at ease, since they are probably not hunted as relentlessly as those on the outside of the mine borders, so they might be a bit easier to hunt.

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Down another long hill, which means I just came up one. Gotta keep this old body in shape ya know.

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Looking over a swampy area, wondering if there are any Moose around, since I’ve seen quite a few tracks. Some people claim that Moose are the most dangerous animals in the north, but that hasn’t been my experience. I guess, if they’re on the road at night, they would be the most dangerous.

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On and on, I continue my hike, up hill, down hill, up hill, down hill. I do know that this road ends, at some point, but I don’t know where. Remember, I don’t check my GPS unless I absolutely have to.

This dam was one of the longer ones that I’ve seen so far.

With this video, it became apparent that I would have to do some more work on those baffles I made for the stereo microphones on my camera. I have now done that, so we’ll see if there is a noticeable improvement next time I’m out in windy conditions.

I walked right down to the end of this long dam, and I decided to take a break at the end. I had something to drink and eat, and I took a few pictures during my break.

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I would think that you could probably land a small plane on this dam.

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The dam ends at a formidable mountain of rock.

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Here’s a good example of how they blast this rock out of the way. You can see the drill holes deep down into the rock. They place explosive charges into these holes and blow it up, into small pieces, and then clear it away.

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Here you can see that they broke one of their drills in the rock, and it remains here because they couldn’t get it out. I gave it a yank, and it’s in there as solid as a rock.

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Standing half way up the rock face, looking back along the dam. I’m always extremely mindful that, if I was to injure myself here, there would be no help coming, period.

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Nevertheless, I don’t look all that concerned about it, do I? In my mind, it would be a fitting end for me, dying out in the remote wilderness, where I would never be found. Still, I’m not ready to go just yet. 🙂

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I walk on, to continue my explorations, grateful that I can still do what I love to do.

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The road is becoming more grassy, and less gravelly, I’m thinking that I must be near the end……..not so fast grasshopper.

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This old road is not done with me yet. It’s not about to let me off that easy.

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Some more mushers, living out life in the quiet wilderness.

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Woah! Some level ground, now this is a real treat.

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There are a fair amount of colours around, but only in certain areas, like along roadways, and in open spots. I’d say we are about at 1/3 colours right now. I would give it about a couple more weeks before full colours, but I’m predicting that the colours this year will be very vivid, unlike last year.

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I came to a river right here, just below this rock face, which I wasn’t expecting. But, this river is shown on the map, I just didn’t remember it.

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I see an opening ahead. Looks like another dam.

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I wasn’t expecting another lake either, but that’s just because I didn’t remember all the features on the map. This is another lake with no name.

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That’s Strike Lake way down there. I’ve come up in altitude a bit.

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It was clear that this dam I’m on now was not built to hold contaminated water in, it was built to keep fresh water from flowing into Strike Lake, since this would cause a flow-through that they didn’t want, in a mine tailings lake. They need to control the water flow out of these tailings lakes, so that they can be certain that the water flowing out is clean enough to return to the natural watershed.

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The road does continue on, after this dam, and so do I.

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Is that another opening in the bush that I see ahead?

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Indeed it is, and it’s not just any opening.

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It’s the last opening. From here on, it’s all pure, unadulterated, pristine wilderness.

This is about as remote as I’ve ever been, in any of these mine sites. It’s a strange, but rewarding feeling. There’s no safety net, if anything should happen in a place like this, and something about that is very appealing to me. Many people devote their lives to making life ‘safe’, but that also makes life very sterile, and I don’t care to live in a world like that. Adventure is not an option for the human spirit, it is a requirement and, without it, we will wither and die or, more likely, just become the drone clones that those in power would like us to be……easier to control, and manipulate.

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So, from here I start the long trek back. I didn’t realize, at this point, how late in the day it was getting.

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Back into the bush I go, not really looking forward to all those hills that I knew were ahead of me.

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I usually do pick up the pace a bit on the way back from hikes and, even though my legs were growing weary, I did so on this hike also. In retrospect, it’s a good thing I did, because I still didn’t realize how late it was getting.

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I was taking fewer pictures on the way back too, probably about half as many as I took on the way in.

Here’s an interesting scene I came upon on the way back. A Grouse trying to impress the female of his choice. Boy, does that ever bring back memories that I’d rather forget. 🙂

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Other than that, the hike back out was uneventful, although I did start to notice that the castle lights were growing dim.

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I took a few shots as I passed by the no name lake, that the pump house is locate on.

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You can tell that the sun’s light is dwindling, so I knew that I had to kick it into fifth gear now, even though my tank was getting close to empty.

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As I was walking down the final leg of the hike, I noticed, in the distance, the formidable silhouette of Rooster Rock.

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I see the main gate, through the dimming light, and I know that I’m out of the wilderness before the ghouls of the darkness arrive for their nightly howls. I did see a Porky Pine, while I was driving out on the Panel Mine Road though. 🙂

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