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The Colours of Fall

Well, in case you are not aware, it is fall. Yes, that season where we celebrate the death of summer and the impending arrival of winter. Yup, I just said that. Fall always seems to be a bit of a catch 22; the beautiful colours versus the falling temperatures. Or I should say the rollercoaster temperatures. Gotta love how it can be a gorgeous 20C one day and 4C with flurries the next. However, I must say that I wish I had more time to enjoy it.

Northwood Maple, September 2012.

Unfortunately the insanity that is my life right now has not changed much since last week. Between work, family, football, football and everything else, I am burnt! At least I am feeling a bit better than last week, but I’m sure the next cold will roll around just as I kick this one. I guess I can look forward to the upcoming long weekend…some relaxation, hiking and turkey. Yes, for those of you who are not aware, Canadian Thanksgiving is this Monday. I guess when most people think Thanksgiving, they obviously think of the American holiday, but we Canadians do celebrate it too. October is a bit more fitting for us, since November is kinda crappy around here.

Autumn Spire Maple, September 2012.

So last week we played our first meaningful football game of the season. We came up a bit short, losing to our crosstown rivals St. Ignatius 32-17. However, we are pretty happy with the outing, since many of our kids have never played before. Ya, there were a lot of mistakes, but we’re only going to get better as they learn the game; it seems as if we’ve made huge strides from last week. Next up is Hammarskjold and this is going to be an interesting one as they have yet to play a game and we did not have any tape on them. Thursday night lights here we come!

Speaking of football, the boys play their first game on Saturday. We finally divided the kids into teams last week, so they are now members of the Argos. Getting beyond the fundamentals and drills is a bit of relief, both to the coaches and players. It is neat to see their enthusiasm and energy, although the lack of concentration and absence of short term memory is enough to make one drink. They are hilarious to watch when they play though.

Now once again I did not have a lot of railway time this past week, but Sunday cometh! Yes, I am pretty excited for the upcoming visit to Minnesota and the Paulson Mine. Hopefully the weather cooperates as this is going to be the one shot I have for this year. I’ve been tinkering around with the maps again and I can’t wait to do some investigating. I don’t want to get my hopes up as I might be disappointed, but I guess the thrill of the chase can be intoxicating. Yes, I know I’m saying that about a 120 year old railway, but to each his own right?

Paulson Mine, August 2010.

If anything this weekend, maybe I’ll be catch some fall colours. I rarely get to indulge in my love of photography; I’m mostly limited to shots of the railway and the occasional nice pic when the opportunity presents itself. I remember the old days when I could get out and spend hours taking pictures. Unfortunately there is only so much time to go around these days and most of my free time goes to the railway. I tried to get a fix by wandering around my backyard last weekend! Well with any luck, I’ll get a chance to do both on Sunday.

Poplars, September 2012.

Anyway, it’s time to go. I didn’t get much sleep last night so my bed is calling. I’ll definitely have a lot to say next week. Until then…

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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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Sick as a dog!

So, who the heck came up with that expression? According to our friends at Google, it could be traced to one of two things. First, it might have been used to emphasize the severity of the illness…don’t really see that but whatever. Another explanation is that since dogs eat anything and everything, they often get sick. Having cleaned up dog puke on more than one occasion, I could definitely relate to that. Anyway, whatever the meaning, that is my current state of health. I could feel it coming on last week, probably due to the fact that I’m pretty run down and tired. Colds suck!

Despite my illness and complete lack of energy, I dragged my sorry butt to school today as I could not afford a day off. Yes, I am total control freak and cannot contain the urge to teach my classes myself. However, that was not my motivation on this occasion; if you immediately thought football, you got the correct answer. We play our first game against our sister school St. Ignatius on Thursday and there is still a ton of preparation to be done. I figured that our kids leave it on the field every day, so as the head coach, I need to set the example. Kinda ironic that football (both high school and tyke) is probably the reason why I’m exhausted and sick.

Last week’s scrimmage went well, actually better than we anticipated considering that 75% of our guys have never played a snap of football. There were lots of mistakes, which we knew would happen, but they are eager and enthusiastic. We are very thin at some positions, so we have a lot of guys backing up all over the place. I was blown away today when one of my linebackers, who learned the guard position yesterday, told me he’d play anywhere I put him. Love it! One of the big reasons why I do this…probably going to make that kid a team captain.

My classes are still going well, though I can’t believe it’s almost the end of September. One month down! Tomorrow I’m submitting our proposal for the 2014 history trip…fingers crossed! We selected the “Canada’s Battlefields” tour, which would take us to the Netherlands, Belgium and France over 10 days. It will be nice to see some new places like Amsterdam and the Scheldt, and re-visit places like Ypres, Vimy and Juno Beach. Another visit would allow me to see more of these sites than I could during the Vimy trip. It’s a waiting game now.

Cloth Hall, Ypres, Belgium, April 2012.

So all this insanity has once again left little time for me to do any railway related work. I did spend some time penning my response to MLA’s Mauro and Gravelle regarding the development on Gunflint Lake, which I hope to send out tomorrow. Hopefully it leads to greater protection for the rare historic treasures in that area.

Now the visit to the Paulson Mine is still on my mind, so I did play around with maps again, trying to formulate a plan of attack. I really hope that the hunches that I’ve come up with pan out. Locating the grade along the second switchback west of the mine has been a huge source of frustration and head scratching. I guess I’ll find out soon enough. With any luck I’ll have some good footage to add to the YouTube channel, which has seen some great additions over the last few weeks.

Paulson Mine from the Kekekabic Trail, June 2012.

Anyway, my brain is pretty much mush right now, so it’s probably time to wrap things up. More football and railway updates next week. Until then…

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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Cry havoc, and let slip…the Dawgs and Bandits?

Yes, sometimes I even surprise myself with my cleverness. Literary genius? Definitely not. Obviously this week’s title is a play on the famous phrase from William Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar. The big question remains however, is where does the other part come from? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading!

It has been yet another busy week, and my exhaustion has not dissipated; rather, I can say that it has become magnified. Is it Christmas break yet? I would certainly not wish away the fall for the respite that the holidays offer, but things are a tad bit crazy right now. Between work and football, I feel like I can’t stop my head from spinning.

My classes have certainly been going well and I am definitely back into the swing of things. It is almost like I never left. It sometimes amazes me how after 14 years in the classroom things have become second nature to me. It is also weird that I don’t think of myself as veteran, experienced teacher, but I am. Young at heart? I think a lot of it has to do with the passion I have for teaching and for history. I hope some of it rubs off!

Now speaking of history, work is progressing on the planned 2014 excursion to Europe. Last week I had an interest meeting which attracted 12-13 kids; I’m sure there were many who did not know about it despite my multiple announcements. The plan is to travel with our sister school St. Ignatius and hopefully we have enough kids to fill a bus. We haven’t yet decided on an itinerary, but that will be taken care of this week. Probably France, Belgium and the Netherlands…sounds like an awesome adventure!

Stone of remembrance, Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Cintheaux, France.

So, what are these dawgs and bandits you speak of Dave? I’ve used it in the title, so it must be something of significance. Well, it is actually. Since 1999 I have coached high school football, and for the past 10 years of that time I have been the head coach of our school’s junior team (JV for any American readers). I currently coach the linebacking corps, as well as serving as the defensive coordinator. In our 3-5-4 defensive scheme (3 down linemen, 5 linebackers and 4 defensive backs), the outside linebackers are called dawgs and the left/right inside ‘backers are called bandits. Linebackers are the heart of this blitzing defence, thus the need to unleash them! We play our first scrimmage on Thursday, so we’ll see how things pan out.

I’m currently getting a double dose of coaching, as I’m taking on a pretty substantial role with the boys Tyke football program. They were direly short of coaches, so I volunteered my services and experience to teach these 5, 6 and 7 year olds. It is certainly a challenge! We have not set any teams yet, so it is mainly just fundamentals for now. Introducing offensive and defensive schemes to them should be quite the interesting endeavour.

Needless to say that with all of these things going on, that any railway work has been put on the back-burner. I’m just too tired to concentrate on such things as writing. I’m hoping to get back to my Leeblain article at some point in the future. Leeblain however is on my mind. Even though I’m very busy with other things, I’m still working on the historic preservation at the site of this ghost town. I’ll probably have more news to report in the next few weeks.

I did spend some time working on some railway related stuff on Saturday. I’m still planning to head to Minnesota to visit the Paulson Mine in a few weeks. In preparation for that trip, I decided to do a bit of research. Despite several explorations, particularly this spring, I have been unable to clearly determine the exact route the railway took near the mine. My attempts this spring were frustrated by the new forest growth, so I’m hoping that with the dropped foliage I will be more successful.

To aid in my quest, I pulled out a historic map that was included in U.S. Grant’s geological survey of the area. Using the data on the map, I tried to plot some likely locations for the railway. For now I am optimistic as to what I’ll find. They say success is built on failure, and I’ve failed a lot in this regard. Maybe my luck will change this time…I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Paulson Mine area, Minnesota.

Anyway, I better get rolling. As usual, there will be more to say next week. Until then…

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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But I don’t wanna go back!

No this is not the end of summer, please don’t send me plea from my children; it’s actually mine. It’s quite unfortunately that summer is already over…didn’t it just start? It is amazing how quickly time flies. I’ll probably be saying the same thing in 10 months when it is June. The only solace I take is that I have yet to hear that annoying back to school Staples commercial. No, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year; if you don’t want you kids any longer, why do you think I do?

Anyway, tomorrow I go back to work. At least I get to be eased back with a PD Day tomorrow. However, I know that day two will be hell, as I’m never tired on the first day, but rather the second. Going back to work is inevitable, but you know where I’d rather be!

Beach at Leeblain, August 2012.

My schedule is not too bad to begin the year; two Grade 10 Canadian Histories (Academic and Pre-AP) and a Grade 12 World History. I know I’m dreading it right now, but give me a day and I’ll be right back into the swing of things…it’s like riding a bike. My love and enthusiasm for teaching will come flooding back. I can’t believe that I will be entering my 16th year in the classroom…damn I’m getting old!

September also brings with it the start of football. We’ve already held our usual pre-season meeting and I’m certainly looking forward to getting out on the field. It is always a bit of a crap-shoot when it comes to the composition of the team; we do have a core of returnees, but we don’t know who will be coming up from Grade 8 and who did not play last year in Grade 9. I guess we’ll get an indication at Wednesday’s lunch meeting.

The last few weeks have been a very good and a great way to wrap up the vacation. I spent a good part of it in the states with the family (and unfortunately a technical glitch with my laptop prevented my usual blog post last week). I know the boys really enjoyed the time in Duluth and Minneapolis and so did I. I spent lots of time hanging out with Ethan and Noah, and in some cases, trying to keep my lunch down. The boys love the rides at the amusement parks and the propensity is for the ones that make me want to puke. Case in the point, the Splat-o-Sphere at Nickelodeon Universe; I spent this particular whirl with my eyes closed lest I blow chunks in front of a bunch of kids. Maybe I’ll get better with time!

Sunset in Bloomington, August 2012.

Upon my return, I made plans for one final summer hike on the railway. I had been itching to get back to Leeblain since my last visit in early August. This trip would be different though, as I was planning to take the boys with me on the long drive to Gunflint Lake. The 146km journey is certainly very interesting, and I forgot how brutal the last 30k was.

When we arrived, we met up with fellow researcher Harold Alanen. As an amateur archeologist, Harold has spent a lot of time around Leeblain looking for Native/Voyager artifacts. We were joined near the railway siding by a few Minnesota friends, John and Joel. John was my host on my Minnesota trip and it was good to see him.

After getting myself (and the boys) ready, we headed north 130m towards the northern rock oven. As we arrived, I happened to glance into the bush just before the oven. I immediately recognized the flat slabs of rock that make up the ovens. Calling everyone over, I charged into the deadfall to identify the “mystery” fourth rock oven. I say mystery because Harold had previously indicated that there might be another oven in the area. However, when he failed to locate it on a previous trip, I was a bit disappointed. I cannot believe that I had never seen this oven before, especially since the brush was thinner before the 2007 fire. Needless to say I am ecstatic over this great discovery.

Rock oven, Leeblain, August 2012.

From there we moved to the ovens closer to the town and eventually said goodbye to John and Joel. Then it was time to go to work. One of my main goals for the day was to locate the 1100 foot spur that branched off somewhere near the ovens. The spur was probably removed after Canadian Northern took over in 1899 as it is not shown on the 1911 map. Google Earth told me that the gravel pit across from Leeblain looked very angular and the distance from the end of the pit to the grade was nearly 1100 feet.

Our first search took us along the eastern side of the pit, where it became obvious that there were no traces of a rail line. As Harold fetched his metal detector, I had a hunch that maybe the spur was in the pit (throwing the gravel into cars beside you would be easier than throwing it uphill). In the northern (drier) end, I noticed a slight mound running down the middle of the pit. Harold arrived on scene with the detector and we immediately began to find spikes, bolts and other bits of metal.

Leeblain Spur, August 2012.

The southern part of the pit is flooded, so our only recourse was to move farther north toward the main line. It was clear that the grade here had been disturbed by the logging following the 1999 blowdown, but the general outline of the spur could be made out. We continued to find items, including piles of spikes and even what appeared to be part of a handwheel. I even found some pieces of coal! It was a very productive day and I’m hoping that Harold and I can team up again to locate more items in the area.

Leeblain Spur items, August 2012.

The boys wanted to spend some time on the beach, so that gave me some time to shoot some video of the “mystery” oven. I then chilled out while Ethan and Noah played for a bit; I wish I could have stayed a lot longer…and so did the boys! The drive home would take 2.5 hours, so we had to get rolling early. We were actually making good time until it happened.

As we neared the intersection of the Gunflint Road and Highway 588, it noticed a slight vibration in my truck. I just assumed that my boat rack was loose from the rough road. The vibration got worse and I suspected something was up; it was at the same time that Ethan shouted, “there’s black stuff flying up from the tire!” My driver-side rear tire was a smoking, shredded mess. I lost 40 minutes putting the share on, but Harold happened to drive by and gave me a hand. I’m now on the hunt for some replacement tires; thankfully I have no hikes planned for the immediate future.

Blown tire, August 2012.

Anyway, I better rolling since I need to be up early. As usual I’ll have new stuff to report next week. Until then…

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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Technology sucks!

That’s probably the last thing you’d ever expect to hear from me, as I am a self-professed technology geek. But at times it can and does suck! Case in point: trying to update the maps on my Garmin Auto GPS. Cannot get it to work, even on two different computers. Why? Why? I don’t want to call tech support, I just to plug the f’ing thing in and have it to what it is supposed to do. Is that too much to ask? I guess it is.

Anyway, hey, I’m back! After a much deserved break following four straight days of blogging in the states, its back to the regular Monday ramble. Since it has been about a week and a half, I do have a lot to say; so take a bathroom break, grab a drink and get ready for some literary magnificence!

Okay, so where to start? Well, I last wrote about Day Four in Minnesota and the great time I had on that trip. A few days later, I was immersing myself back into the history of the railway. On Saturday, August 11th owner Shelley Simon was hosting the first ever “History Day” at the historic Silver Mountain Station. The station is the sole remaining significant building left from the railway and dates from 1907.

My journey would be an interesting one that day, since my wife and I were entertaining some friends at camp. My in-laws camp is situated east of Thunder Bay, while Silver Mountain is located to the southwest. I would thus have a 110km drive just to get to the presentation, and unfortunately have to depart prior to the dinner portion of the day-missing the prime rib buffet!

The day was designed to celebrate the history of the railway, the station and its most celebrated occupant, Dorothea Mitchell, the famous Lady Lumberjack. For this event, I would be joined by other historians and authors associated with the area; Elinor Barr, author of her own book on the railway and esteemed historian, Professor Michel Beaulieu from Lakehead University, Canadian best-selling author Elle Andra-Warner and Nolalu-area author Leo Hunnakko. Also present was artist Brian Nieminen, who created a famous painting of the railway for its 100th anniversary. Quite the notable company!

The social part of the day lasted from 3 until 6, which gave me an opportunity to chat with people at event. I made some good contacts and had some great conversations. I even got a chance to say a “few” words (you know my issue with brevity)! More importantly, I was able to spend some time Michel Beaulieu and Elle Andra-Warner. Elle is a fellow member of the Thunder Bay Historical Society and on the publications committee. This may help with my plans to get published and may even lead to another speaking engagement!

Speaking at History day, August 2012.

All in all it was a great day and I am glad I was invited to participate. I think that Shelley has plans to make this an annual event and I am certainly excited about the 2013 edition. The gears are already turning on how I can increase the exposure of my work!

At History Day I had the good fortune to meet a seasonal resident of Whitefish Lake by the name of Rocky McCutcheon. In our conversation, Rocky mentioned that he had explored some of the railway around the lake and we should get together for a hike. So last Friday I loaded up Loki and we drove down to Whitefish for what would prove to be an interesting adventure.

Now one of my objectives for that day was to try to locate, hike and mark the location of the one-time turning wye just east of the lake. Before my planned meeting with Rocky, I decided to stop by the road and quickly take a look at the area where the wye was located. I learned two very important things from that short exploration; the grade was very difficult to navigate in that area and following the wye might prove difficult as the ground there was quite wet.

When I met Rocky at 10:00, the first thing he did was to take me over to Maki’s Resort as he wanted to show me what turned out to be the Whitefish Lake spur. I had no idea this spur was even there. We made our way northeast, and it was apparent that there was something running across the ground toward the lake.

Rocky and I spent some time poking around the area where the west leg of the wye should have been, but I was unable to locate it in the wet, heavy undergrowth. As we returned, we located the junction between the spur and the mainline. We followed the prominent grade toward the lake, finding the remains of a wooden culvert in the process. We then worked our way closer to the lake until we reached a spot where the grade appeared to disappear into the water.

Culvert remains, Whitefish Lake, August 2012.

Rocky then told me that at one point this area had been dry, and the grade probably had crossed what is now a small bay. Sure enough, on the west side we found a continuation of the grade, and we resumed our journey westward. Soon thereafter we made an interesting discovery; a curved rail close to the lake shore. We pulled this roughly 12 foot piece out of the tall grass along with a curved fishplate. The rail was stamped “Cammell Sheffield Toughened Steel 1887.” I had never seen a pre-1890 dated rail, and wondered if it had been placed there. The curved fishplate told me that it was probably an original piece, but the date was baffling. However then I remembered that there was an abortive attempt to build the railway in 1887; was this rail purchased at that time and then left over? We can never be certain, but it is a tantalizing find.

Steel rail, Whitefish Lake, August 2012.

From there we moved on the property of resident Helen Morrison who took us a short distance further to where it looked like a gravel pit had been. When I returned home, I found a reference to the spur and that it was approximately 2250 feet long. Taking into account the section through the bay, the distance we covered from the junction to the gravel pit was about 670 metres, or 2197 feet…that’s pretty remarkable!

It was in conversation with Helen that I learned another interesting piece of information that relates to the events that are happening on Gunflint Lake. Over the last few weeks I have discovered that the grade is no longer owned by the railway, but rather it is now crown land. Helen told me that in the late 70’s the railway grade was offered up for sale. There were some people that did take advantage of that, but others were not aware or decided not to spend the money on the right of way. The big question now is which sections were sold.

From the spur, Rocky and I headed back to the mainline and proceeded to walk most the 930 metres from the junction to where the railway crossed Highway 588. Sections were heavily grown in, but others made for a rather nice walk through the conifers. We were able to locate and mark where the railway crossed the highway and paved the way for another hike west of the road, probably for another 500 metres or so until it reaches some private property?

Rail bed, Whitefish Lake, August 2012.

I’m planning one last hike before the days tick away to the start of the school year (sigh). When I was looking at the document with the spurs, I noticed the 1100 foot one at Leeblain. I’ve never been able to locate it, as it is not marked on the 1911 map of the area. Google Earth to the rescue! After staring at my geographical saviour for a while, I think I have a probable location. So I’m off to Leeblain next week, not that I need extra incentive to go there. The plan is to stay in that one area and hopefully turn up more railway related stuff.

Well, I think 1400 words are good enough for today. On Wednesday I’m off to the states for a week, so my next blog will be from the wonderful city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The boys are really looking forward to the trip, but it’s sad that it will be the last hurrah of the summer. Anyway, time to go. Until then…

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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Gunflint Day 2

Well, I’ve had a shower, I’ve eaten, washed the dishes and now it’s time to write. Sort of ironic that as I sit in the great room at the Cross River Lodge and write about my day hiking, I’m watching Owen Wilson run for his life in the movie “Behind Enemy Lines.” It has been a very busy day and I’m quite tired.

I thankfully had a good night’s sleep…I guess going to bed at 9:30 helped too. I slept pretty well until 6:30, and then lounged in bed for another half an hour before I got up. It was a nice morning on the lake, though I did notice that the wind was up which was not a good sign.

Sunrise on Gunflint, August 2012.

After breakfast I started my journey to the east. I was quite concerned about the state of the lake, as I could see whitecaps forming in the open water. Gunflint Lake is a very deep lake, surrounded by high ridges; when it’s windy the lake tends to get very nasty. It was going to be even more challenging since I was by myself, with no one else to help level and trim the boat. As it turns out it, my fears were confirmed and the lake was fairly tough to navigate. I was forced to creep along at half-speed (18kph), constantly watching my position in relation to the waves. So my 8km trip took quite a while!

When I arrived at the east end of the lake, I wanted to avoid some private property along the bay, so I was forced to beach the boat on a rather rocky shore. I had quite the struggle pulling up the boat, in the process smashing it into the side of my left knee. It’s quite swollen now and I’m sure it will be loads of fun tomorrow! Once that was all out of the way, I started walking.

My journey was going to take me just over 4km to the east, back to where I stopped my hike last year. I was immediately greeted by a number of rock cuts and embankments, which would set the tone for the rest of the hike. One of these embankments even had a very interesting culvert built into it. It appeared that they blasted a channel into the rock and the covered it with flat pieces of rock. Crude, but expedient…and it still works!

Rock culvert, Gunflint Lake, August 2012.

From there the grade crosses over what was a high bridge and then enters a wet, low area for 800 metres. Thankfully someone had recently driven along the railway which helped push down some of the new growth that has sprung up since the fire 5 years ago. It was really the only difficult section I had to contend with, and unfortunately kinda boring. Not much to see except chest/head high brush and burned trees!

After this tough stretch, the grade did improve. For the next nearly 2km the railway runs along the shore of the lake, about 100 metres or so from the shore and over 150 feet above it. With the trees gone, it provides an amazing vista of the lake. It was then on to the last major feature before my destination, another bridge crossing. I had visited this location in 1997 before the blowdown and fire, but I had high hopes with the trees gone. The drop to the creek from the grade is over 20 feet, but I wasn’t able to find any remains in the valley. With the rains in May and June the water level is a bit high, frustrating my search.

Gunflint Lake from the railway grade, August 2012.

Two hundred and fifty metres past the bridge I arrived at my turn around point, which was the intersection of the railway and the Gunflint and Lake Superior Railroad. The G&LS was a logging line that was constructed in 1903 and used until 1909. The junction used to be very easy to spot and there was a trail leading down to the lake. Unfortunately it was probably not used after the blowdown and is littered with deadfall and burned trees.

My journey back was smooth, except for the threatening skies. The forecast called for a chance of showers, even thundershowers, and it looked like it was going to happen (it only spat enough to nake the leaves a bit wet). I couldn’t stop at my starting point though, as I had to walk approximately 800 metres west to cover a section along the lake that I did not get to last year. As it turns out, I went 250 metres further than I needed to!

When I got back to the boat, I was shocked to discover, despite placing the cover on it, that the waves had splashed quite a bit of water over the transom. It took me about 15 minutes to bail out the water (gotta get a bilge pump), made worse by my tightening hamstrings. I had walked nearly 11km! Then it was off to creep back to the lodge at half speed, trying to stay pointed into the waves and avoid the reef off the point near Leeblain. I couldn’t believe the canoeists were braving the lake.

The break at the lodge was a brief one; enough time for a quick snack and to prepare my GPS for the next adventure. My host, John, was going to take me to the Narrows to look at the railway there and hunt for an “interesting” treasure.

Our first stop was at the home of one of the local residents; Jerry and Sharon had spoken to their neighbours and had agreed to take us for a look around. I was able to photograph and video the Narrows in the afternoon light as I wanted to. Our search for the mystery item was unsuccessful; we had the general location, but sometimes it’s like the proverbial needle in the haystack. Jerry has agreed to take me back on Wednesday morning so I can get some proper data and more images.

Well, I need to post this blog and turn in. Tomorrow should be a less strenuous day, with a visit to Leeblain and the Ontario side of the Narrows. There will certainly be a lot less walking, which is good since my knee isn’t too happy. Hopefully I’ll return with good news in my search for rock ovens and building remains. The forecast calls for a high of 24C and lighter winds…well see what happens!

Until then…

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel

 

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Gunflint Day 1

Greetings from Gunflint Lake! I am sitting here in the great room of the Cross River Lodge watching football as I write this. If it weren’t for the pounding headache that I have, life would be awesome. I’ve had a good day for the most part and I am certainly looking forward to tomorrow.

So this week has been a very busy week for me. This is my second kick at some fieldwork in less than a week. On Tuesday I decided to take the boys with me and walk a bit of the railway near the former village of Flint. I mentioned in my previous post the Flint is a village no more since most of the area has been washed away by the Whitefish River.

We started our hike where Diana Road ends along the river and headed north. It was going to be a 3km round trip, which I thought was well within abilities of the boys. It unfortunately was a cool night, so there was a heavy dew which made everything dripping wet. In areas the grass and vegetation growth was much thicker than I expected, but the boys took it in stride (much to my shock) and were real troopers about it.

When we arrived at our destination, which was a crossing of the river west of Harstone, we spent some time examining the remains of the bridge there. We then headed back and checked out some of the eroded sections of the grade. In one area it there was what appeared to be the remains of a diversion of the river. The engineers diverted the river is several places along this stretch of the railway and this could very well have been one of those locations.

When we passed through Flint we made our way down to the river to see what might still be lurking in the area. We could see some of the remains of the bridge across the river but no traces of the former village. From there we crossed the Silver Creek and finished our little adventure.

So that brings us back to Minnesota. I made the drive down to this very beautiful area today to give a talk at the Chik-Wauk Museum on the railway and the Paulson Mine. I’m sticking around for a few days to do some hiking on Gunflint and hopefully Mother Nature cooperates!

After stopping for some supplies in Grand Marais, I arrived at my “home” for the next few days, the Cross River Lodge. I’m staying in the main lodge and my room is amazing. Even as I sit here on the main floor I’m struck by how well appointed this resort is. What is even better is the hospitality of my hosts, John and Rose Schloot. They have been nothing short of fantastic and the staff is equally wonderful!

The presentation today had the makings of an interesting experience since it was outdoors and I had no technology assistance (other than my tablet for my notes). It was well attended (I didn’t count the number of people) but I’d have to guess there were about 50 people. I managed to stay within the one hour time frame and I fielded many questions about the railway and the mine. I’m looking forward to doing it again at some point in the future!

Following the presentation I returned to the lodge for a bite to eat and then headed out for a bit of exploring along the Gunflint Narrows Road. My main goal was to try to locate the turning wye that was situated just north of the crossing of the Cross River. I had spent a bit of time examining the area on Google Earth and I was pretty convinced that I would easily find this unique feature. Unfortunately as I began to walk it became apparent that I would not find it. I crisscrossed the site many times but I could not see any definitive traces. I guess the wye is where we thought it was all along, obliterated by a gravel pit.

Well, I’m heading off to bed since my head is still pounding and I have a long day tomorrow. I will hiking the eastern end of the lake and let’s hope I don’t get rained on. Then my host John will be taking me to the Gunflint Narrows to look at the railway there and maybe even see something neat!

Until tomorrow…

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel

 

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