The Conquest of Bolger Mountain

This Google Map is an approximation of the route I took, and it can be zoomed out to see the whole route, right from Elliot Lake.

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This is the actual route I took, from my GPS.

I had only heard about Bolger Mountain, and I had never been even along that road before, so I didn’t know what to expect when I got there. As is usually the case, looking at Google Maps does not tell the whole story, but I was able to locate, what I felt might be, the location of the trail head.

I’m always looking for accessible high points for hking, just as I’m always looking for accessible lakes for paddling, so when I heard about Bolger Mountain, I did some research. Bolger Mountain rises to about 2,000 feet, making it the highest accessible point that I know of in this whole area. This meant only one thing. I had to get to the top. 🙂

When I reached the general area, where I thought I might find the beginning of the trail, I drove a little bit farther, and then turned around and came back to a small parking area, at the side of the road. You could probably fit about three vehicles in this area, and this seemed like the closest access point to Bolger Lake, and Mountain. I had my GPS running in the truck, so I could see where I was as I drove.

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Here is that access point, and I saw an ATV trail running into the bush a little ways behind my truck. There was no one else here, just the way I like it. (RainDrop)

I should mention here that there has been a development in the case of the glitch in, what I’ve dubbed, the RainDrop Camera. I went for another hike at Mississagi Provincial Park yesterday, now that it has closed for the season. I took the RainDrop camera with me, and took probably about 200 pictures while I was there.

Normally, I would do a blog post, after an outing like that, but there was a problem. Out of those 200 pictures, only about 15 turned out, so I had no pictures to post. It was at this point that I started to suspect, not the camera, but the SD card. I have now discovered, that the glitch in the RainDrop camera was not the camera at all, but a bad SD card.

I replaced the SD card, in the RainDrop camera for this hike to Bolger Mountain, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I am using 3 different Canon cameras for this hike, so that I am certain to have pictures when I return home. The cameras I will be using are; the smaller Canon SX120, which I’ve had the longest, the original Canon SX40, which I’ve had for a few months now, and the newest Canon SX40, which I refer to as the RainDrop camera. I will try to mention, as I go along, which camera has taken which picture, or video.

The weather conditions for today were supposed to be full sunshine, but that wasn’t the case. It was a real nice day for this hike, but we had, what I call, white sheet cloud cover in some places. With this, plus the fact that the viewing area on Bolger Mountain faces south, into the sun, there were issues that I could not control, as far as pictures and videos go. I still don’t have the filter I need to handle these conditions, so I just did the best that I could. Keep in mind, this is not the fault of any of the cameras.

All the cameras I took with me today performed admirably, under the prevailing lighting conditions, including the RainDrop camera, which is now working at full capacity, with the new SD card. No more glitches. I will designate the pictures and videos as either, RainDrop, SX40, or SX120.

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Just as I started in on the trail, I came to this old 1950’s car wreckage. (RainDrop)

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This ATV trail would run all the way into Bolger Lake, but that’s where it ends. (SX120)

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This ATV trail starts to go up, almost immediately, and most of this hike will be uphill, to say the least. (RainDrop)

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You can see that there are a lot of leaves on the ground now, after that wind/rain storm that hung around for about a week. Well, guess what? We have another rain storm approaching, and it’s also going to hang around for about a week, so this is why I chose to do two hikes in a row. I have to take advantage of the nice days in between all the nasty ones. (RainDrop)

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This is where the ATV trail comes out, at Bolger Lake. (RainDrop)

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This area looked like it was used as a campsite. There was a fire pit, and enough open area to put up some tents. (SX120)

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From here, I could see Bolger Mountain, and you’ll just have to believe me when I say, it looks much more ominous in person than it does in a picture. (RainDrop)

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A panorama of Bolger Lake, and Mountain. (RainDrop)

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Another panorama. Keep in mind, these pictures were taken facing away from the sun, so they turned out pretty good. When I get up on top of Bolger Mountain, as you can see, I will have to shoot into the sun.(SX120)

After looking around this area a bit, I did locate a very faint foot path to the right, and along the shoreline of the lake. However, it didn’t seem to me to be a main trail. It looked more like a firewood collecting trail for the campsite. However, it was the only trail I could see, so I followed it. (RainDrop)

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After following this faint trail, along the shoreline of Bolger Lake, for a bit, I started to see these pink trail markers on some of the trees. It was then that I knew I was probably on the trail to the top. For anyone else who might be thinking of doing this trail, the pink trail markers don’t start right away. You have to go on faith for a while, until you pick up the markers. (RainDrop)

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Making my way along Bolger Lake. (RainDrop)

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It was a bit cool, so I had dressed warmly, but soon my internal furnace would get one hell of a stoking. (RainDrop)

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Looking up. (SX120)

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It was at this point, the trail would start to head inland, away from the lake, and up, up, up!

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If you look closely in this picture, you will see the little pink markers along the trail. I have to thank whoever did this, because, without these, I never would have been able to follow this trail. It’s not a well-used trail and, with the leaves on the ground, it becomes invisible. (RainDrop)

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There are still a few remnants of vivid colours in the bush, but most of them are gone now. Peak colours this year was ruined by wind and rain. (RainDrop)

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Again here, you can see the frequent markers on the trail, as it winds it’s way through the bush.(SX120)

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Looking up again, to see how much progess I’m making. (SX120)

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The trail winds back and forth a bit, as it makes it’s way up the steep incline. (RainDrop)

You can tell that there was also a fair amount of wind today, and I was quite satisfied with the way that the wind noise baffles I added worked on both of my Canon SX40 cameras. (RainDrop)

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I can see, through the trees, that I’m gaining some altitude now, but there is a cost for that altitude, and I’m giving everyone, who might think of doing this hike, fair warning. This hike is difficult, not only because of the steep uphill grade, but also there are obstacles that you will encounter, which require climbing.

In fact, I will mention here that, on my way back down the mountain, I passed two people who had turned back, because they just couldn’t make it. So, hikers beware, it’s not, by any means, an easy hike.

You really do have to be determined, to reach the top of this one. But, it is manageable, if you take it in reasonable steps. (RainDrop)

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After taking a break, I started up again and, you can see here, that it wasn’t a walk in the park. I was only following the pink markers, otherwise there was no trail to be seen. It was just like fighting my way through untouched wilderness. (RainDrop)

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Another pink marker on a tree, to the right there, but there is no visible trail. (SX120)

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It started to get less steep now, as I headed left, towards the peak. (RainDrop)

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Can you see any trail here? (RainDrop)

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At this point, I knew that I would make the top, although that was never in doubt, because there was no way I was going to turn back. The mission was, make the top, or die trying. This is what I love doing and, if I can’t do it anymore, then I’m quite content to cash in my chips out here in the wilderness. I can’t think of a more natural way to go.

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I’m now at the first viewing point, near the top. I’m also now facing south, into the sun, and you will notice those nasty white sheet clouds, at the top of this picture. I tried to cut them out as much as possible though. (RainDrop)

This is just the first place where I could see out, over the edge. I will now continue along the edge, taking pictures and videos as I go. (RainDrop)

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There was still a slight upgrade, as I moved along the top edge, and there were still those pink markers to follow too.

At this point, I decided to switch to using my first Canon SX40, just to make sure that I would have pictures and videos of this amazing hike. As I mentioned earlier, I did, in fact, determine that the SD card I was using in the RainDrop camera, which is my second Canon SX40, was faulty. This was the cause of all the glitches I was experiencing with the camera. It is now working 100%.

All of those videos were taken with my original Canon SX40. It’s unfortunate that this lookout was facing south, into the sun but, like I always say, it is what it is.

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I made my way back, along the edge, taking more pictures, and videos, and I also stopped for something to eat too. (SX40)

That lake I saw in this video was Reception Lake. (SX40)

The last video at the top. I would now start the downward hike, and I would warn would be hikers again, do not underestimate the hike down. In fact, even though the hike up was very tiring, I found the hike down to be more risky, due to unsure footing. Especially with the leaves on the ground, the downward hike was very tricky. You could easily fall and break your ass, or some other irreplaceable part, so watch every step, very carefully.

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Anyone for diving? You’ll need quite a push off, or a wing suit, to reach the lake, and I don’t know how deep it is, so you’re on your own for that one. (SX40)

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That small white patch you can see, in the middle of this picture, is the Little White River, a seemingly appropriate name, in this case.

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Back down, at Bolger Lake. (All SX40)

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I head back down the ATV trail, for the final leg of this fantastic hike. (SX40)

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The only other people I saw on this hike were the two that I left back on the trail, making their way down, after a failed effort to reach the top. There was no shame on them though, they did make it quite a ways up, and I definitely give them credit for that. I guess everyone has their own risk/reward way of assessing these kinds of things, and the reward, for me, just outweighed the risk.

And I have only one more thing to say, on this Thanksgiving weekend. I’m very grateful to be alive today. 🙂

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