The Windigo Lake ride.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ZZR_Ron, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    For those who don't know, this is the furthest North you can ride in Ontario.

    My friend Bill and I decided it was on the "must do" list.

    Here's the route:

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    #1
  2. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    Here's the GPX file:
    #2
  3. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    I have to admit the ride up to Pickle Lake was pretty uneventful.

    It was cold and wet, and the fall colours would be gorgeous, but we were too miserable to enjoy them.

    Here's our first "on the road" picture...in many cases the tamaracs
    had turned bright yellow, and we were riding through a corridor of them.

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    Here's what could be a nice free camping spot earlier in the year. It even has a bathrooms of sorts. It's at Fitchie Lake.


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    Here's my riding partner at the same place.

    Excuse the poor picture quality, it was actually colder off the bike than on it, (very strange) and I was shivering trying to take any pictures.

    This will also explain the lack of pictures for parts of the ride, I was just too damn cold to take my gloves off!!

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  4. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    The remains of a forest fire outside Osnaburgh First Nations...a slightly eerie, and fairly depressing area.

    It kind of reminded me of riding through the Ham Lake Fire, on the Gunflint Trail, but with much smaller trees.


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  5. funhouse

    funhouse Overdue

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    Ron: I've read several histories of the settlement of western Canada and mention is often made of The Pas .... half way across.....have you been there and what would it be like to ride there? boring......flies........what's there if you get there? Bruce
    #5
  6. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    I would say off hand that this ride is many times more interesting than the run to the Pas. The ride up through Riding mountain park is nice, but it's boring and flat from there.
    I used to live in Northern Manitoba, and the best parts are north of there. ( actually have a son working in the Pas right now)

    On the bright side, you can do it on a street bike, it's all paved.
    #6
  7. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    If you're running a Garmin, don't make the mistake I did.

    I grabbed the wrong card! Metroguide Canada proved to be really useless up there.

    Luckily, Bill had loaded Ibycus Topo 1.22, and Topo Canada, so at least HE had a clue where we were!

    For the those who don't know, but are going to be travelling the backroads, the Ibycus Topo is available as a free download here:

    http://www.ibycus.com/ibycustopo/

    I have found two great things about it. A lot more of the roads are correct, and you can zoom much further out , and still see the roads and trails.
    #7
  8. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    Anyway, Dryden to Pickle Lake was our destination for the day, and with the rain and cold, 375 km was enough!


    Nothing is cheap when you get further North, by the way.

    Motel 108 bucks.

    Surprisingly, the food at the restaurant was pretty good, albeit a bit expensive.

    Gas was ~1.50 a litre , that's 5.67/US gallon, or 6.81/ Imp gallon...

    Our motel for the night:

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    Despite the higher price, I can still recommend the place. When they found out we were on motorcycles, they conveniently hid us away from sight.

    A good nights sleep is worth it!

    Bill is warming up, and trying to find anything close to local weather.

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    Good Luck! We got a generic CBC radio station out of Winnpeg, (lotta good that's gonna do us), no local weather network, no cell
    phone service, and the phone in the room kept getting the kitchen, no matter what we dialed...

    The view from our room was ok, if a little forboding....


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  9. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer Super Supporter

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    right here on my thermarest
    :lurk
    #9
  10. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    I just had the internet eat my last page...let me try again.

    OK, I know that it's a bit hard to see, but we rose the next morning to 1.8C and rain.

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    The road surface from Pickle Lake north is incredible (more on that later) The bit of rain was keeping the dust down which was nice...

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    In case you're wondering, the road surface was quite twisty at times, but we chose to stop on the long straights, so anyone coming up could see us.

    It's hunting season, so while the traffic wasn't very busy, they've been known to have a few, err, beverages on the way...

    Road construction, they were replacing a Bailey bridge on the road ahead. We must have waited here for 20 minutes.

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    With the strong North wind, and 2C, we were happy to get the bikes fired back up, heated stuff back on, and on our way.

    We filled up the bikes, and carried 20L of spare gas betwwen us, but didn't want to waste any idling, in case of side trips, or other problems.

    This would turn out to be a good idea...almost prophetic.
    #10
  11. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    The next break would be at the turn off to the Musslewhite Mine.

    I have a friend who works there, but access is very restricted. (I worked there now, as well, started a year after this ride report, until this spring.)Finally got tired of being away from home.

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    Bill and I had a semi frozen butter tart, and continued on.

    Rumour had it that that it had snowed up north the night before...at least snow is dry, i'll take it over this rain any day!

    It did look like it was going to finally clear a bit, and did, which was kind of nice.

    Being the optimists we are, we made a few comments about how nice it is not to have any bugs!!
    #11
  12. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    From the Musslewhite turnoff, the road got a bit more marbley, but we managed to hold a fairly good pace, between 80 -90 km/hr.

    There's quite a few beautiful river crossings, on one lane Bailey bridges, but we were just too cold to start taking gloves off, and snapping pictures.

    Also, the bailey bridges are a bad place to stop, because they're one
    lane, and if something should come up, it can't get around you.

    I probably should have taken more pics, (again) but there was whole fields of this lichen everywhere.

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    #12
  13. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    :thumb
    :lurk
    #13
  14. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    We rode on...we're commited at this point...and rode....

    till the end of the road...

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    Yep, this is it. The end of the road. The furthest north. Done.

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    An old fish scale.
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    It would seem that we achieved our goal....

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    But you may want to hang around a bit, as this ride takes us to one of the spookiest places we've been....


    More later.
    #14
  15. Old Fart At Play

    Old Fart At Play Mad about thumpers

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    Great report Ron, wish I had been able to join you and Bill. However, yesterday I was about 1 km north of the northernmost point of your route. You, however were on the most northern road on the surface :lol3 of Ontario. I was 770 metres below surface, right at the end of the long esker dividing Opapimiskan lake. I thought I heard a KLR go by.
    #15
  16. humvee

    humvee Long timer

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    :lurk
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  17. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    Bill had been talking to a local, who mentioned that there was an abandoned town , if we could find it.

    Sometimes the highlight of the ride doesn't lie quite where you expect.
    #17
  18. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    We continued our ride back south, looking for Stirland lake.

    At last we found a hole through the tag alders, and there it was!

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    This is where things started to get a bit wierd!!!!
    #18
  19. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    Now, I've been to deserted towns before, but nothing like this.

    It was like a time capsule from the mid 80's and everyone walked away and left everything. I mean everything!

    At the same moment. On the same day.

    The houses are just sitting, there, some have the doors wide open, everything left like it was.

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    25 year old food still in the fridges, and in the cupboards...




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    #19
  20. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    I'm gonna be posting a lot of pictures of this place, so bear with me.

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    Some of the houses.

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