I am Ironman!

09 Jul

My alter ego? I wish! Secret childhood fantasy? Nope. So what gives Dave? Well, today we celebrated my youngest son Noah’s fifth birthday and Ironman was one of the toys he received as a gift. Noah is quite enamoured with superheroes, in particular Spiderman, Batman and Ironman. He even picked out a Batman cake.

I was never into those things as a child, though now as an adult I find my kids interest in them intriguing. It would kinda be cool to have a special power, or a suit like Ironman. I must say I did like the movie, particularly the end when Tony Stark answers the reporter’s questions with the statement, “I am Ironman!”

Anyway, back in the real world, things are chugging along. The first week of holidays has passed by and I feel somewhat relaxed, though things are still very hectic. Last week I wrote about our quick trip to Duluth and the pace of things has not stopped. On Wednesday I spent the better part of the day hiking the railway (which I will talk about later), and then it was a short turn around to make it to the airport to pick up some relatives who were flying in from Italy. Showing them the sights has kept me and the family hopping, since there are five of them and I have to help shuttle them around.

On Thursday we headed out to Kakabeka Falls, which is one of the traditional places to visit around here. Not as big or tall as Niagara Falls, they are nonetheless quite a beautiful sight. The only negative that day was the heat; we are still struggling through some warm temps, and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up! I was certainly feeling pretty sweaty and gross after walking around the falls for a while, but I guess I shouldn’t complain. It could be -30C outside and I could be sporting a parka instead!

On Saturday we took our guests to my in-laws camp for a day at the lake. I think the kids (as well as mine) enjoyed the warm weather and the temped lake water; I’m sure they’d like a return trip at some point. Maybe this Saturday might be a good time, since we still need to visit Ouimet Canyon, the Amethyst Mine and Sibley.

Rail bed, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

Things have been progressing as well on the railway front. As I already mentioned, last week I was able to get out for my first hike after the end of school. I decided that I would tackle the section of railway just west of Wolfe Siding (that area is now officially know as Suomi) since I had never hiked that area before and I didn’t complete it when I was there in early June.

I tried to get out as early as I could since I knew it was going to be hot later in the day. It is roughly a 45 minute drive from my house to where Wolfe is located on Whitefish Lake. I would start my hike where I ended the last one at Mileage 46 Road and work my way 3km east to Wolfe. My previous hike had been very difficult due to the heavy growth and I was hoping that it would not be a repeat of that experience.

Telegraph pole, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

One of my main objectives for the hike was to locate any remains of a bridge on a creek about 900m east of Mileage 46 Road. I had been to that spot in 1998, but I wanted to see what was still left. I was in for a bit of a surprise though, as I would find a few more things than I anticipated!

About 200 metres into my walk I made the first discovery, broken shards of what had been a ceramic culvert (or culverts-there may have been two) under the grade. Another 250 metres later I made my best find, the prized telegraph insulator. Every time I hike the railway I am always scanning the south side of the grade looking for telegraph poles and potentially a very rare insulator. As I was winding my way along, dodging the trees and deadfall, I happened to look back on the grade and caught something white on the ground. Sure enough it was the remains of a pole with the insulator still attached. I marked its location in my GPS as I knew I didn’t want to lug my find along with me.

Culvert, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

As I continued east I did find the remains of the bridge, and then a 150m long, very high embankment. From there I entered a relatively open area of the railway, which would stretch almost the whole way to Wolfe. About 1km west of my destination, and just beside Mile 46 Road there was another interesting discovery; an intact ceramic culvert. The grade above it had been supported by rock, and the culvert was still doing its job and handling the flow of water under the grade.

After reaching Wolfe I began my return journey and shortly thereafter I came across something very neat. About 400m west of Wolfe I had wandered slightly off course, but it the process I made a discovery. I noticed a pile of rocks very close to the grade, arranged in a circular pattern that definitely was not natural. I then remember I had seen the same thing weeks earlier when I found a telegraph pole closer to Mackies. This was the base of the pole, where it had been inserted into the ground and the rocks were there for support. While I could not find the pole, I now had an obvious clue to help me find other poles. I then proceeded to locate another four poles on my way back, making a total of six poles (I guess five) for the trip.

Glass insulator, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

After 3 hours and nearly 7 kilometres I had made it back to my truck. I drove the short distance up the road to photograph and retrieve the insulator I had found earlier. It will make a fine addition to the similar items I had donated to the Duke Hunt Museum in the past.

Speaking of the Duke Hunt, my presentation there is rapidly approaching. I just finished printing off some posters to put up and I need to get my butt in gear with the slide show. Since I’m busy writing this blog today, tomorrow night might be a good time. However, my thoughts right now are preoccupied with Thursday’s impending trip to Leeblain.

Ever since I had heard that the road to Gunflint Lake had been repaired I have been itching to get to that area of the railway. With the potential development that might be occurring there, my trip is even more urgent. Late last week I received an email from an acquaintance with the US Forest Service. He informed me that he had seen an excavator at Leeblain, which certainly got my attention. The only part of the trip I am not looking forward to is the drive, which is almost 150km, most of which will be on gravel roads. Hopefully all goes well and that I will be able to bring back some great pics of the area (and I don’t keel over from the heat-it’s supposed to be 38C with the humidity). I’m also praying that no damage has been done to the rock ovens at the ghost town.

Anyway, gotta get rolling. Tomorrow we’re off to Grand Marais with our guest for a little visit south of the border. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say in next week’s post. Until then…

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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing


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