Access Denied

The map above shows the route that I intended to take on my hike today. I’ve been into the Stanleigh Mine site many times before, but I wanted to do some more explorations into areas that I’ve never seen before. They do plow the road into this large site because they need to maintain access to the dam, and pump house, located in between Crotch Lake, and McCabe Lake.

Much of the plowed road, as you will see, was bare gravel, and I can’t tell you how good that felt to have solid ground beneath my feet for a change. Walking on snow all the time really wears on you because, every step you take there is a certain amount of slippage, so it’s harder, and more work, to walk on snow.

You’ll notice the different color lines on the map, and this is because, once I arrived in the area where I was to start exploring into ‘new’ territory, I realized that they did not plow these roads, and there was still a considerable amount of snow on them. The red line indicates my track through the area that I have been before, the short yellow line indicates how far I was able to make it into ‘new’ territory, before I was turned back by the prevailing conditions, and the green line indicates where I wanted to go today.

Things don’t always work out, but it was definitely no loss for me, I still had a great hike, and I will be back to go into those areas I couldn’t reach on another day. Let’s take a look at some pictures, and videos from this hike.

Again, I will always try to take advantage of sunny days, when we get them. As I’m writing this post, the day after I did the hike, it is supposed to rain, and snow today, so I’m real glad I got out yesterday in that fine weather.

IMG_0004 Panorama

This is Penelope Lake, which is the first lake you come to, on the left side of the road, in the Stanleigh Mine site. Of course, it’s still frozen, but there are signs of melting on the ice.


The weather was perfect for hiking. There was a bit of a breeze, but it was very comfortable for me, and you just can’t beat that sun at this time of year.


There was one issue that I was facing today, and that was sections of very slippy ice on the road, in some areas. Solo hikers take note, never take things like this for granted. Every step you take must be calculated, and given due attention. A fall out here could very well leave you injured, with no help forthcoming.

IMG_0017 Panorama

Still lots of snow out there but, actually, we didn’t get as much snow as usual this year.


Very few people walk into these sites as far as I do. I know this because any human footprints usually end at around the 1km, or, at most, the 2km mark.


Wild canine scat. Fox, or wolf, I don’t know. Seemed a bit large for fox. You can see hairs in this sample, which are most likely the hairs of a hare. 🙂


The snow conditions force me to stay on the roads at this time of year, but it won’t be long until I have more freedom to roam.

You can hear a bit of wind noise in that video, but it’s not so loud that you can’t hear me talking. I also added an acoustic foam wind baffle to my smaller SX240, and that seems to be working very well.


That first part of Crotch Lake, that I just passed, was an area that was flooded to cover mine tailings. I’m now headed over to the bigger, and original, part of Crotch Lake.

From here, I could see the new area that I wanted to explore today, but that’s as close as I would get to it on this hike.


Another section of slick ice. It was down hill too, which makes it even more treacherous. I walk very close to the sides, on the snow, to get by these areas.


Most of the road was free and clear of snow and ice though, and it made for some very enjoyable walking.

This video shows another, closed off, old road that I haven’t explored yet. I’ll be back when the snow melts.


This is the road that runs across the top of the dam, at the end of Crotch Lake.


The first open water I’ve seen. This is the settling pond, between Crotch Lake, and McCabe Lake, which you can see in the distance.


A closer look at the settling pond. This pond was created so that any contaminants that made it out of Crotch Lake, would settle to the bottom of the pond, and then the surface water of this pond, would be funneled through a concrete chute, and into the local watershed, via McCabe Lake.

IMG_0065 Panorama

It was around this point that I realized the new roads I wanted to explore were not plowed, and were still covered in deeper snow.


This was one of the roads I wanted to explore and, as is indicated on the Google Map above, I did get about 200 yards into it, before I decided that it was not practical, or enjoyable.


Here, you can see what I mean. I would walk a few steps on top of the snow, and then I would fall through, almost to my knees. Hiking any kind of distance in these conditions would be very tiring, and not too much fun either. Also, we had a period of freezing rain recently, and there was a very slick layer of ice on top of the snow, which made things even more difficult.

Like I said, I gave it a shot, but soon realized it was not going to work. I went back out to the plowed road, and headed down to the end of that.


This is the end of the settling pond, and you can see the concrete chute that ushers the, supposedly, clean water back into McCabe Lake. I always see Denison workers testing the water at this location, to make sure that it is within the regulated guidelines, so there is ongoing monitoring of these tailings lakes.

The flow, through this chute is controlled and sometimes, when I come here, this chute is dry.


Looking back, across the settling pond, to the dam at the end of Crotch Lake.

This would be as far as I could go today, so I started the long trip back out.


Another shot of the area, as I leave. The trip back out was uneventful, but still very enjoyable. It got cloudy, and a bit more windy, but my pace quickened, so I was grateful for the cooling breeze. I’ll be back here again, when I can gain access to new areas to explore.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by oliver maki geo/sci on March 20, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    incredibly beautiful scenery–I especially liked the one with open water. I was one of the first Geologists on mining sites–young and surveying where the mines ought to go. living in a large tent even in -30’C I live in Elliot Lake now


    • Wow, I bet you have many adventurous tales to tell from back then Oliver. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like, searching through the untamed, rugged wilderness, inhabited by bears and bugs alike. And then, coming home to a luxurious tent in the middle of winter 🙂 I also use a tent up here quite a bit, but you won’t find me camping in the winter. I know that a lot of the mine workers, and their families, also lived in very tough conditions in those days. We’ve all become too soft now I think. Please feel free to jump in with any more comments you might have. I really like hearing from all you guys who opened this area up.


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