29 October 2014

Halifax Underground

Poked around York Redoubt today with a crew from Tell Tale Productions, filming 'Halifax Underground' for CBC's Land & Sea. Should air early Spring 2015.

09 August 2014

Camp Strawberry

Tenting at Strawberry Battery hasn't changed much over the years.

Jacob, Chris, and I identified an iron triangle in 2009 as an excellent container for a small camp fire. Happy to see it's been used over and over again, and was still there for us to use for the MARMU '14 over-nighter.

08 August 2014

Maritime Meet-Up 2014 - Part Three

MARMU (Maritime Meet-Up) 2014's second day began with a fair amount of rain before anyone woke up. I provided the group with some absolutely horrible instant coffee before we packed our bags and tore down the tents. Some tidying occurred and we left Strawberry cleaner than it was when we arrived.

That's my big, heavy pack with the bright green tent attached.

We packed out. Someone (It was me) thought it would be a good idea to lead everyone out the front gate, into the tallest, wettest grass. There were no wood ticks, they'd obviously drown. Soaked, I cursed my boots and changed pants and socks when we hit the main road.

We hid and camouflaged our packs and headed north toward Hugonin Battery. I recommend doing the same if you're leaving anything unattended on the island for any amount of time. Theft of supplies is something friends of mine experienced first hand on the island years ago. I've heard of other instances, with long term campers often getting the blame.

Hugonin Battery was good for me. I'd never seen the gun emplacements first hand. Among them, we found a deer carcass. It had no smell whatsoever, even hovering over it with a camera and tripod. Mint plants, go figure. It was all we could smell.

From Hugonin, we were off to Fort Ives.. Making several stops along the way to poke around creepy, ransacked cabins.

If I recall correctly, everyone had been to the island before and no one expected to see many new developments considering how much of it is abandoned. We didn't find anything new to speak of but Fort Ives was about to deliver.

We poked around the grounds, and ate a quick lunch before examining a suspicious, recently created hole punched through the cinder blocks that sealed Fort Ives decades ago.

It was quickly determined that the punched hole was important. Everyone hurried in to take a look. It was pretty remarkable, really. I went to Fort Ives expecting nothing more than a quick picnic as it's been sealed quite well for a very long time. 

Inside Fort Ives we found a large room with a small entry way to a long tunnel with a high arched ceiling. The tunnel led to several other large rooms, many or all serving as magazines for guns above.

It was significantly cooler inside Fort Ives- a good ten or fifteen degrees cooler. It was damp. Wooden fixtures such as door and window sills have decomposed in place and would turn to mush when touched.

There was very little trash and minimal graffiti, some of it dating to the 1970s. Debris covered the floors of the deeper rooms but much of it was bits of material that had fallen from the walls and ceiling over decades.

There were plenty of opportunities to get hurt inside the fort. The floor pictured above has a gap about one metre wide that extends wall to wall with a drop of approximately two metres to debris at bottom. It would make for a nasty fall. There is no light inside making several capable lights a necessity. 

Fort Ives, from the outside, appears to have potential for passageways to be above the rooms we found ourselves in. Access to above was not obvious, however in the corner of one of the assumed magazine rooms there was what could be a passageway in the ceiling. 

Of course there was no getting up there. Best we could do with the equipment we were carrying was to boost a camera with an extended tripod.

No definitive answer as to what's up there though. Trevor's photo showed the passageway could take a turn several metres forward. Next time, perhaps. 

Above is a magazine elevator. It doesn't elevate anything these days though. Thoroughly seized. We explored the rooms and passageways as much as possible and headed back outside to finish walking Fort Ives. 

After crawling into some awfully small holes, we were again in interesting spots we'd never been before.

Time was getting tight. We left Ives, and passed by the island's old houses on the way back to the beach. We collected our well hidden belongings, and called Captain Taylor to tell him we were headed toward Wreck Cove.

Next time, we'll play the tides right and depart when it's high. The hike down the beach to the ferry was miserable. Just a combination of soft footing, a heavy pack, and exhaustion. Captain Taylor met us half way, it could have been worse.

The group landed at Fisherman's Cove in Eastern Passage where we said our good-byes, all agreeing we'd need to do it again next year!

07 August 2014

Maritime Meet-Up 2014 - Part Two

After bushwhacking around Chebucto Head and a mystery location earlier in the day, we drove to Eastern Passage. We had arranged for Captain Steve Taylor to take us to McNabs Island via ferry. Once everyone was done commenting on the size and weight of my backpack, Captain Taylor took us across.

View Larger Map

We landed on the island at Wreck Cove's beach and set for Wambolt Trail. This trail skips Fort McNab taking you directly to Garrison Road. From there we hiked around McNabs Pond, to the rocky shoreline, and then up to Strawberry Battery where we set up camp for the night. It was here that they stopped talking about my backpack, and began talking about the colour of my tent. Neon green, it isn't exactly subtle.

Strawberry Battery offers superb views of Halifax Harbour. Looking over the light emplacements, south up the island's shoreline toward the open ocean...

It eventually got dark and we made our supper. Some had brought and cooked bison, some left their food in their truck parked at the wharf, and some roughed it a little more than others.

This was my dinner. It was delicious.

It wasn't long after dinner and some discussion that we packed it in for the night, ending day one.

Stay tuned for Part Three. Hopefully I can get to this trip's highlight without a Part Four.

06 August 2014

Maritime Meet-Up 2014 - Part One

The first regional urban exploration meet organized on the Urban Exploration Resource happened on the Natal Day long weekend (August 2-3). We hoped for a larger turn-out, but were ultimately very happy with the group that came out. The Halifax Defence Complex was the theme and a rough itinerary was put together for both days.

We started with fortifications in mainland Halifax on Saturday, landed in Eastern Passage that evening for a ferry to McNabs Island, where we spent the night inside a World War II battery. On Sunday morning we hiked the island stopping at all the sights along the way.

I was late to the party on Saturday morning. Loading my pack was difficult and exposed a dire need for replacement before the next trip. Before I caught up with the group near Fort Chebucto they had already been through York Redoubt, to York Shore Battery, and up to Chebucto's dilapidated RDF station.

After talking briefly with the group upon my arrival, we trudged through a bit of swampland to Fort Chebucto's underground bunker. The entrance to the bunker is so well hidden that you can be right in front of it and still not see it.

I didn't take many photos inside the bunker, and the few I did weren't worth writing home about. I did find a few pieces of graffiti that stood out as familiar. Little had changed since '08.

After a nice conversation with a land owner outside Fort Chebucto's bunker, we moved on to our mystery location. It's a mystery because of where, and how, this ruin sits today. It's behind a fence, and nobody goes in there. Nobody. You can tell nobody goes in there because people litter, and they have.

This was the type of litter we found. Vintage litter. There weren't any Tim Horton's cups, or anything from this century, really.

Bushwhacking to the mystery location in the heat was brutal. I was questioning whether or not it would be worth the hike, and the climbs, and the branches in the face. It was. It isn't often you crawl through a literal hole in the ground, and fall into a relic of two world wars. This place was very well preserved. Garbage wasn't abundant, and there was no graffiti. What we found was a long, narrow brick structure that was scattered with tonnes of metal and stone debris. There was very little light to see the plethora of spiders clinging to the walls around us.

This mystery location group shot courtesy of Trevor Beckerson.

Our next stop would be McNabs Island. I'll cover the trip to the island in a following post.

16 May 2014

Shannon Park

With the former military housing community of Shannon Park recently changing hands, it seemed like a good opportunity to tour it's dilapidated remnants. Canada's Department of National Defence handed the area off to the Canada Lands Corporation for potential redevelopment. That was strong indication that the Military Police who were once diligently looking out for trespassers, and worse, may not be as interested in Shannon Park as they once were.

A brief background on Shannon Park. The name comes from the HMS Shannon, a British Royal Navy frigate that captured the USS Chesapeake during the War of 1812. The park was built in the 1950s to solve a decades old shortage of military housing in the city. The community was shuttered in 2004, it's residents moved to Willow Park on peninsular Halifax.

We approached the park from the shoreline beneath the A. Murray MacKay Bridge, or if you're from Halifax, the new bridge.

Some of the former Canadian Forces housing structures inside the park...

Courtyards, complete with Walking Dead-esque playgrounds.

The building interiors were all more or less the same - wrecked. Destroyed by a combination of weather damage and illegal metal scrapping. Anywhere there was pipe to steal, it's been stolen.

Air quality inside the buildings was poor. With the buildings being so 'cookie cutter' you really only need to step foot inside one, to see them all. The only real exception to that is the Administration Building. It's layout is different than that of the ordinary housing throughout the park.