The Roving Route
Tika became an international traveller this week 😲!
The Adventures of The Roving Route #38
Hello everyone and a warm welcome to all our new subscribers. Thank you for joining along! If anyone wants to read any of our past newsletters, you can do so by clicking on the links below.
We loved hearing about everyone's Covid friendly adventures so far! Some of our favourites have been joining an app-based running group, building ice rinks and sandcastles, and even an indoor garden! For us, the fresh air, occasional deer, and beautiful weather motivates us to go back out and make another 150-pound snow block every waking moment! Dozens of locals who have heard about the maze through word of mouth have made their way to try and escape. It has been awesome to talk with people (all while staying socially distanced) and feel the Kenora winter community. Not only the local humans, but the animals seem to be quite interested. The great thing about snow is that you can track when and where animals go quite easily. We can see that the deer inspect the outsides often and presume that the neighbourhood fox got a bit lost before giving up and climbing along the top of the walls, but not before it left a "warm" surprise on the entrance wall! We hope we can capture them on film one day soon! The maze is 55ft by 45ft but we plan to expand if time allows. Keep an eye out on the Facebook group to get updates and share your photos! For our friends around the world, we have something special up our sleeves so stay tuned!!
As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we have had several questions about the ice road and what that fully entails so unbuckle your seatbelts, put on your parka, and let's get started. Ice roads are plowed all over the cold parts of the world for recreation uses, construction, and just daily transportation. Kenora's main route is a 6 car wide clearing that snakes its way to the US border and several reserves that are located on peninsulas or islands that have no normal road access. These communities are a 3-hour ride away in a regular boat and even longer with a construction barge, therefore most of the year's building supplies and food have to be hauled in during the winter. Even the camps and cottages that are close to Kenora prepare for construction in the freezing winter. This is why you will see many "private" roads (technically the water/ice is public land thus they can not be called private roads) plowed off of the main route.
The concept of an ice road is pretty funny and seemingly more opposite than one would think. The crazy width of the road is not to allow lots of traffic but because of two major reasons. When a car drives on ice (no matter the thickness) it causes under-ice waves. Sometimes, when these waves (either natural or car-made) crash into each other, the ice heaves up like a mountain to create nature's speed bumps. We found these are often marked by pine trees so keep your eyes open if you are ever on the ice road as you do not want to be hitting them at high speeds! Keeping a wide distance from each other and slower speeds help to reduce the damage to the roads especially during the freeze-up or thaw. The width of the road is also because of the insulating factor of snow. It seems counterintuitive to think that the sun's melting rays cause fewer issues than the "coldness" of snow but we guess that's the strength of an Igloo! Lastly, while it may not be legal, it is highly suggested to not wear your seatbelt when driving on the ice road. The idea is that if your vehicle goes through the ice, having your doors unlocked, windows slightly down, and no seatbelt will allow you a much quicker escape and a higher chance of survival. P.s it's not insane to think that driving with your windows ajar when it is -30 is crazy but hey you do all sorts of things in the name of safety. For more information about ice road safety click HERE
Knowing that the ice road stretched far down the lake, we packed up the car with all sorts of safety gear, cracked the windows a bit, and set out to see where we could make it to. Lake of the Woods is so large that it is near impossible to explore it all in one day by boat. We usually need to watch out for reefs and other unmarked obstacles and keep a keen eye on a navigation chart. The relatively slow speeds and the size mean we only explore a small section of the lake each summer. However, a car allows you to go much quicker and in a designated route that takes you up and over multiple islands. That said, there is no "ice road map" and there are lots of turn-offs from the main road. With not much of a true destination, we headed down many of them and found gorgeous cottages, unique modes of transportation (a few fan boats and even a small snow plane), and places of pure peace and quiet- if you can ignore the constant cracking of the ice that is!
Eventually, we made it down to Oak Island- the unofficial/official border crossing. Much of the area is open water (or ice in the winter) and with no "border crossing", Tika likely became an international traveler on her search for a good spot to pee!
On our way back, we took a turn off to see where it went and were pleasantly surprised to find its ending was at the Kezadidawigamag community. The community is part of the Animakee Wa Zhing 37 First Nation, (formerly Northwest Angle Reserve 33) which is comprised of a variety of islands and points that stretch along the US-Canadian Border. Its location is pretty unique and adds to the complexity of access as the peninsula is only connected to mainland in Manitoba though they are part of Ontario. While we did not enter the community as we are not essential, we hope that one day we can return with members of the community to explore the area.
The rocky islands have much steeper cliffs and different trees than the islands that are further north and closer to us. It was interesting to watch these changes in geography and geology as we explored this new section of the lake. Overall, we highly suggest taking up the opportunity to have an ice road adventure if you ever have the chance.
Cheers to the snow plowers of Lake of the Woods!
The Roving Route