I'm sitting here at a campground (of sorts) on Frater Road feeding the fire and the bugs. Group alpha left for their trek along the Towab trail and we, the bravo group did our own things exploring the area.
Andy and I met pretty much on time and we met the convoy of fellow travelers at 7pm for the several hours drive drive to Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada and then a couple hours further along the Lake Superior shoreline (highway 117 I think) to the rough hewn Frater Road in Lake Superior Provincial Park (?). We arrived well after 1am and stayed up past 3am.
After a too short sleep during a pleasant night the camp awoke around 8am. The nice morning was spent under the rich dense forests under mostly clear skies with cool temps. We wandered to the Agawa Canyon visitor center which is quite nice. Then to the Agawa Central Railway train stop at the end of Frater Road to drop off cars and then drop group alpha off at the Towab trailhead.
We then went to Ranwick mine. By now it was early afternoon. The old uranium mine is now just home to bats. The old mine is remarkably still open. It is just a modest walk down a two track to the mine entrance. A scramble up and wriggle through the small opening lets you into the mine.
I must say my headlamp was kind of useless. I found my trekking pole much more handy. We strolled through the cold standing water past some old relics and at least one bat. It was a neat exploration. The relics included an old table with some Molson beer on it. You have to wonder how long that stuff has been sitting there. We also passed by aging pipes and other metal objects on our quarter or so mile romp into the mine. I'm told the water temperature was probably round 37 ∞F and I know the mine's air temperature was about 52 ∞F (I checked on my swatch's thermometer but as I write this I wonder if I am remembering correctly). The air was remarkably damp and this would be a great place to easily become hypothermia.
After leaving the mine we struck out on an hour or so long bushwhack that took us up to the top of the ridge under which the mine must go and then back to the cars. The undergrowth here is very dense. You are always going to be pushing your way through branches, trying not to get caught be snapping twigs or ankle grabbing roots, while doing your best to keep the other people in sight. When we decided we had had enough we took a GPS reading and found that following a bearing of 81∞ (OK, so it fluctuated as we moved) traveled for about 0.36 miles would bring us if not back to precisely where the cars were parked then pretty close and at least put us back on the old two-track. That romp down off the ridge crashing through the undergrowth was a treat.
From the mine we worked our way over to the Montreal River (Falls) dam. A tough cable assisted climb down brings you to the water's edge. From there we began a rock scramble along the river's shoreline. With Dan's help, though I'm sure I would have made it on my own though no doubt more slowly, I managed to move through the rocks without slipping. It was a nice challenge. I'll never be an agile rock scrambler, boulder jumping, but at least I can do it. We followed this all up in classic base camping style with a nice meal at Northgate before returning to camp at the same spot along Frater Road that we had used the previous night.
A very relaxed and fun day.