2014 Adventures in Review

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 at 11:15 pm

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Filed under Photography, Tales from the Road

The other day I read an interesting post by Jill Homer recapping twelve of her favourite images from the past year, one for each month, and giving a little more insight into each image. I thought it was a great idea, but since this blog has been used just for business in the past, I didn’t have twelve months of images to choose from online. But I do have an annual calendar filled with images from my past year that I’m constantly being asked more details about the images – seems like a good fit. So if you have a few minutes, why not take a look at my 2014…

December – Hoggs Falls, Near Flesherton

Hogg's Falls

We almost missed finding these falls. Out on a short waterfall hunting tour, we found the main, larger falls (Eugenia Falls below) that we were looking for, but with time starting to run short before a concert that evening and directions that were a little less than clear, hope was starting to run low. But down a gravel road, a short walking trail, and over the edge of a little cliff one finds these falls. The biggest challenge was trying to hold the camera steady over the long exposure with one hand while using the other to brace myself from falling over the bank and down to the river.

January – High Falls, Near Dowling

High Falls

Appearing on maps as High Falls, the locals know that Onaping Falls gives an amazing show just a short ways from the highway while most drive by without a clue of what’s waiting for them. We came by on a snowshoeing expedition on one of those perfect clear, cold days to check out the interesting ice formations that can always be found near waterfalls.

February – Eugenia Falls, Eugenia

Eugenia Falls

Eugenia Falls started as just a random point on a map with fairly low expectations for what we’d find. We happened to be in the area and had an opportunity to check another set of water falls off our checklist of Ontario falls. Rolling into a quiet little town and cruising through even quieter back streets expectations were low when around the corner there’s a tiny, single lane dirt road – that’s just bustling with traffic coming and going from the conservation area parking lot. All this activity offers promise that something great is just around the corner, and that, in our modern society where no one takes responsibility for their actions, there will be big fences that prevent you from getting too close to something great. Right on both counts; that’s why I think I’ll have to get back another day with more time to find a way into the ravine and back up river to the falls.

March – Torrance Barrens

Torrance Barrens

I’m lucky to have this dark sky preserve just a short way from home – about a forty five minute drive or, thanks to an old colonization road, a forty five minute cycle. One night full of time to spare and interesting clouds I grabbed the camera and tripod to see what the sunset might offer. I think it was worth the trip.

April – Newpost Falls, Near Fraserdale

Newpost Falls

It started by accidentally stumbling over a photo online of a set of waterfalls way up north that was wrapped in a tiny provincial park and thanks to hydro development in the area was about to disappear forever. Newpost Falls only exist in their present form because many years ago someone thought it wise to divert a large river down the Newpost Creek and increase the flow over another big dam along the Abitibi Canyon. But yet another hydro project is poised to divert that flow through a new generating station and return the Newpost Falls to just a trickle once more. This view was the reward for a long adventure to reach this remote, northern park.

May – Last Road Crossing, Otter Rapids

Last Road Crossing

In finding a way to see Newpost Falls, above, I put a lot of research into remote northern roads. One road in particular suited my needs. Leaving behind cell reception, civilization, and the last chance for gasoline at Smooth Rock Falls, my route led due north for 80km of beautiful and abandoned asphalt highway before reaching Fraserdale and the Abitibi Generating Station where you gingerly drive across a narrow path over the top of the dam, trying not to bump the chain link fence keeping you from falling hundreds of feet off the edge of the dam or into the ridiculously expensive hydro equipment inches from your tire on the other side. From there, the private gravel road extends another 50km, passing a rough jeep trail leading to Newpost Falls, the end of the We-Tum Ice Road to Moosonee, and across another even larger and more dangerous dam crossing to the end of the road at Otter Rapids. It’s as far north up the Moose River watershed as you can get by road (until the ice road opens each year) and mere feet before the road comes to an unassuming dead end it crosses this rail line – the last road crossing this rail line makes on it’s way to Moosonee.

June – Abitibi River, Otter Rapids

Abitibi River

Stopping at the edge of the dam at Otter Rapids (the dam is barely a single lane wide and curved so that you can’t see any potential traffic from the ends) and walking your way out amongst all the massive equipment, you can get a birds eye view of the Abitibi River. The scale of this dam, the river, and this whole landscape is impressive and looking North, as in this photo, it’s easy to realize that signs of man are few and far between from this point on. The road extends less than a kilometre past this point doing little more than servicing the generating station and a small rail facility. Beyond that the rail line extends another 140km to the small communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory and little else.

July – Abandoned Tractor, Near Warsaw

Abandoned Tractor Near Warsaw

On a cycling trip without real destinations, I found this old tractor laying right at the edge of the road a little ways north of the village of Warsaw. I always love stumbling across little pieces of forgotten history like this. One can only imagine the thousands of trips across this field the tractor made before being parked here in the corner and forgotten. I wonder just how many other pieces of equipment are spread across this land that fell to the same fate.

August – Warsaw Caves Conservation Area

Warsaw Caves Conservation Area

During the last ice age today’s big lakes were much more massive and between them ran enormous rivers that are but a trickle of their former selves today. One of those rivers flowed here through Warsaw where it ate away at the soft limestone and formed underground rivers. Today the water table is much lower and it has revealed a series of caves that one can explore – in one case so a cave so long that it still holds ice in August. And though the mighty river is now just a gentle stream, it still suddenly emerges from underground and disappears again here in Warsaw.

September – Rosseau Falls, Near Bent River

Rosseau Falls

I had long known about a set of falls in this area that was rumoured to be quite nice, but completely inaccessible because of private property. Well as it turns out that property up until recently belonged to Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, but with their sale of the property I was suddenly right next to the mystery falls as part of my job. With a polite request and a hand shake I suddenly had permission to come by one evening with the camera to get photos of the falls that not many get to see. The property is now sold and the new owners moved in, closing off access to these falls once again, but for now let this photo give you a glimpse of what one lucky resident gets to call their front yard.

October – Manitouwabing River, Near Inholmes

Manitouwabing River

I was out one day on a random cycling trip with a friend when we discovered an interesting, antique concrete bridge deep in the middle of nowhere. I have no doubt the bridge dates back to the original settlement of the Orange Valley and the building of the Nipissing Road around the 1890’s. Standing on this forgotten bridge of a quiet, sparsely populated road there wasn’t a sound, save for a very faint sound of rushing water. A tiny gravel road led up the river and I followed it up stream to find these tiny falls not far away. Makes you wonder how many people even know these falls are here.

November – Screaming Head at Midlothian Castle

Screaming Head

Continuing the trip from Orange Valley I found my way over to a small farm I had often heard about but never visited. A local art teacher had transformed his picturesque but unremarkable farm into an interesting work of art with the addition of most famously a series of concrete “screaming heads.” But that’s just the start of what this self-guided adventure has in store as you follow the paths to various metal sculptures, a hand powered ferry across the small pond, and the transformation of a simple farm house into the impressive Midlothian Castle.

December – Oxtongue River, Near Dwight

Oxtongue River

Several years ago I had spent the first night of a three week bike-packing trip on the edge of a set of rapids on the Oxtongue River and driving by this fall decided to share my earlier find. But entering the area from a different direction along a different road we found the beginning of the rapids as they shoot under this snowmobile bridge and make their way over a set of impressive water falls. Just goes to show that even when you think you know a place, there’s always more to discover.

2 Responses to “2014 Adventures in Review”

  1. sheryl fallon

    these are amazing shots Brandon! thanks for sharing!

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