View topic - Agawa Canyon - Winter style Feb 11 to 17 (pic heavy)

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PostPosted: March 2nd, 2012, 4:08 pm 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2006, 4:25 pm
Posts: 3089
Location: Milton
I have changed picture galleries so here is a new link album.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1142241160 ... directlink


Agawa Canyon Winter Style 2012
This trip was supposed to happen the second week of January, but do some very poor fitness levels brought on by a bout of shingles in Nov./Dec 2011 I decided for safety reasons to put the trip off until later.
Once I decided I was good to go I set some simple goals for the trip.
1, get some more winter pics of Agawa Canyon.
2, try to better identify some Group of Seven locations by using the lack of leaves and undergrowth to get better lines of sight.
3, catch up on some sleep, I succeeded real good at this one, in bed just after 9, wake up just before 9… :roll:
4, slow the world down. Even though working for the Post office, work sounds like an oxymoron I have to get things ready for 70 people involved with different shifts, and receiving at the dock, for me slow days are few and far between, but it does make the day go by quickly.
All said the goals were all met, except for some of the G7 sites, which because of tree growth since they painted there were met.
Since I was going solo I took the Friday off to drive from the GTA to the Sault. The most shocking thing I saw, (besides out of fudge at Espanola…… ) was the lack of river and stream ice. Spanish River @ HWY 17, Blind River, Iron Bridge no ice! And very little snow!
I take the ACR all the way up from the Sault in the winter because you just don’t know if Frater road is going to be plowed, and the cost of gas (8 cylinder truck) is just a little less than the round trip train fare. (solo) It is a great way to start the day and slow the world down, once your gear is loaded, sit back and watch the world go by.
The weather forecast for the week was not too bad, first night normal lows (-15c) and then warming up for the rest of the week. I found my misplaced thermometer in a small pocket from last year…. And on the second morning was -5c and the rest of the week no colder than 0c (my fall canoe trip in November was colder than that)
This year I decided to camp at Mile 112 where the ice climbers hang out, it is in middle of the areas I wanted to hike to. Again I cheated, I brought in some firewood and some commercial fire logs with me to save some effort on gathering wood in an area that is used a lot for a wilderness area (fisher people in season, climbers in winter) I was disappointed in the Presidents Choice fire logs performance and would not use them again. I will try and find a Canadian supplier for some of those non-wax logs I have seen on other postings.
For meals this year I had my suppers in ziplock bags already to go so I would just have to stir-fry and add some magic ingredients. So all my cooking was on top of the wood stove and I only used my gas stove for boiling water for coffee and tea. For 7 days I used less than a litre of gas, I am sure the warmer temps helped a whole lot on both wood and fuel use.
I got off the train just after 2:00 pm and found that previous campers that fit my tent just right already packed one of the sites down.

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I then proceeded to take my sled and collect balsam bows for my bed, it is pretty easy because during the summer the ACR cuts of the tops of trees that are encroaching the tracks and I cut off the lower branches that still stick above the snow.

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Once that was done, made a fire and put on some coffee, sat down and just enjoyed being out in the woods. The only downside beside lack of close firewood at this site is when the wind comes from the north, as I found out skiing past it site last year, a strong north wind just blows through, even in the trees, which it did the first night.
My first day was to go gather some firewood, found some soft wood close but I had to trek a good distance with the sled to find some hardwood. My physical conditioning was showing but the weather was nice and sunny with no wind and so I was in no hurry, I took a break walked up river to the next rapid and watched an otter playing in the open water and on the ice, no camera of course, so I just stood there for about 15 min. until it disappeared.
I learned from last year and did not have a rigid hiking plan. As with my canoe trips I left my trip plan and hiking details with my wife, this year based on what happened weather wise and would leave a note in the tent what hike I was going to do that day. I know FM phones work in the canyon but satellite service is very spotty and Shaun of North of Superior Climbing says the GPS readings can be off a good distance too because you are not always exposed to a clear sat. signal.
Monday was bright and sunny so I loaded up my small sled with my camera bag and a some emergency supplies, tarp water, snacks, saw, some light change of clothes and a long gortex coat (too warm to wear, was only wearing a hoodie) plus some quick emergency stuff in my pockets. It would be a 9 mile hike and I would take my time and stop and take pictures on the way up and back. The pictures speak for themselves so for most of the rest will be a picture story
Canyon Park

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Track Mile 115.5

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Mile 116.5 the Goudge Gateway.

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Group of 7 spot. Without leaves gives a clean sight line. Mile 116.5.

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First the triangle rock still exists but rail bed changes have moved the river turn a bit.

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The spot where they would have stood, no longer exists, this is all blasted rock and old pictures and movies confirm this. Climbing this in the fall can be an adventure as the rocks are very unstable. (that would be a heads up if you plan to go there) the spot would be the bigger rock just below the cedars.

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Agawa Canyon attracts a lot of ice climbers due to the high number of ice falls in a relatively small area. This year with the mild conditions and lack of snow the ice formations where breath-taking with their array of colours and the lighting on Tuesday hike was not great for landscape photography but it ended up being great for most of the ice falls. About a 7 mile hike with the off track stuff added in.

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Site of J.E.H. McDonald’s “Little Falls” Needed ☺ a better winter sot of this, have several good fall shots so this time I got to the same position that I shot from last fall, except I was a little taller on top of the snow.

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Fall

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I snow shoed down to the valley floor where Lawren Harris did some sketches, I have several good winter ones but there was another location I did not have but with the snow it was not recognizable. I climbed back up the hill, there where several other G7 locations I was going to check, but both other locations because tree growth over the last 90 years have blocked the view. Because of the Balsams you could not even see the canyon walls. I was to locate the general areas because when I first went to the area in 85 these same views where not blocked. I think to answer the riddles of where I think you will have to take a bunch of shots of different landmarks and piece it together. So now back to check out the ice falls.

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Looking up.

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Nice!

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Alone, in the wilderness, with this to look at for the senses..

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Wednesday was to be the easy day, I was going to go up the ridge behind the camp to check out another G7 spot, but I quickly found out how steep the incline was but also the snow was over 2’ deep with several layers of ice which meant sometimes I started to “ski” back down the hill until you broke through the next layer of ice. My legs where feeling the last two days of hikes and I zig zaged my way into what I later figured to be a rock fall that occurred in the last 5 to15 years. Even with the snow crushed trees where sticking out from under the rocks, it make for an interesting snow shoe through an abstract landscape. Later from the bottom I realized you see where the rocks broke through the trees.

The hill above the camp site at Mile 112

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Close up showing the “U” where the rock fall came through.

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After getting back there where reports of a big foot in the area…. ☺ actually it was time for a sponge bath and at plus 2c was a whole lot more fun than last years at minus30c, but pouring a pot full of hot water over’s one’s head sure feels good.
Thursday brought another warm morning and some light wet snow, with a fairly high cloud cover. Today’s plan was to hike up to Canyon station for some pics of frozen waterfalls and to cross the river to Bridal Weil Falls for some close ups of it. As I passed the falls I noticed a new open stretch of river ¾’s of the way across the river (30’ long 3’ wide) so I vetoed the river crossing. By the time I got up to the park it was snowing really wet and heavy but it still made for some interesting shots.

Path to Black Beaver Falls.

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River Trail Bridge.

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The wet snow on the way up really clumped up the micro cleats and the metal teeth on the snow shoes, so I did not use either on the way back. The snow flakes where huge but incredibly wet, I heard the passenger train whistle so I assumed they where dropping off someone at the camp so I got my self a good position for another train pic.

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Got back to the camp totally soaked, met the climbers, the 2 young guys where heading out to climb and the older (closer to my age ) 2 where setting up their tents. Shaun of North of Superior Climbing also came up, but his camp was already set up. I got the fire going to dry out my stuff and made some coffee and just kicked back to just start to enjoy my last night there.
It was getting to be when dusk should be settling in and I could hear the climbers on the ice face across the river. I stuck my face out the tent thinking the snow had stopped, but it was just as heavy, but one of those rare natural phenomena thingies was occurring. Snowing heavy, low clouds, fog mixed in, and at a time shadows should be darkening the canyon (no moon either) but here it was lit up, no shadows showing, really neat to be out in it. The train in the image above was just after 2pm. The next shots after 5:30pm.

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Ice climber’s camp.

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It is just amazing to be able to witness things like this.

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Spent a couple of hours socializing at the climbers baker tent and then turned in for the night.
My last morning and it was just a hair below freezing and last nights wet snow was stuck nicely to the landscape but nothing “special” yet. After breakfast I wondered over and talked to the climbers as they prepped for their morning climbs, but I did created a bit of jealousy with my cup of hot fresh drip coffee… 8)
I was about half packed up when all of a sudden the lighting conditions changed. The plan was to wonder around later for some pics but when you get conditions like this you couldn’t ignore it. No special filters on the lenses no photo shop tricks, like the night before it was just great to watch and it filled the senses. Best way to describe it is natural black and white.

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Fall look.

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One of the reasons the Ice Climbers love the area.

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Trees on top of the cliffs made for good subjects.

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I had been warned that the train would be late for pickup because of work being done on the tracks to the north but it was only 1 hour late. The great lighting continued once I got on the train and I was standing between the cars camera at the ready. I have been taking pics of this one hill since I first started going there and have some great shots from different angles but none really showed how rugged the area truly is, until this day. Again no special filters or photo effects, just the wow factor, and then imagining eking out a living or survival 100 years ago in this area…. This hill is almost 1,000 ft high from the river valley, and those that I have shared this photo with are totally surprised it is Ontario.

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I still hung out between the cars to Montreal Falls, camera in hand to get some various shots of ice falls for Shaun, not great shots for a photo guy, but good enough for the climbers to confirm conditions, but still managed to get one more good me shot.

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All in all I achieved all my goals, would have liked a higher fitness level and would have loved perfect picture conditions for 7 days… but we know that never happens on any trip.
But it is always great to get out there. :thumbup:
Jeff

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


Last edited by jedi jeffi on December 6th, 2012, 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: March 4th, 2012, 10:55 am 
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Joined: February 10th, 2005, 2:36 pm
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Location: Southwest Michigan
Awesome!


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PostPosted: March 5th, 2012, 1:52 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 1975
Location: Manitoba
Thanks. Your post brings back memories of canoeing the Agawa Canyon.

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Brian
http://www.JohnstonPursuits.ca

 


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PostPosted: March 5th, 2012, 8:03 pm 
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Joined: June 5th, 2003, 2:50 pm
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Location: Halfmoon Bay BC
Great post ..thanks for sharing your trip...at first I thought why go all the way out there ..now I see why.


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