On Sunday February 2nd the Maitland trail hike at Hullett had a much smaller turnout than the previous week’s outing, with only two snowshoers and one skier. Perhaps it was the Super Bowl or the sticky snow that kept many (including Chewy) away. However, the three of us had a good outing enjoying the snow covered trees. We were a little concerned about the numerous sounds of gun shots, which made us head north away from the sounds. The featured image is of Lise and Doug Ellacott on the outing.
On my hike along near the Bayfield river there was an 8 ft high ash stump with the bark falling off. I had a great surprise when it fell over after I touched it, fortunately missing Chewy. The photo shows part of the fallen trunk which I replaced on the remaining short stump for the photo, it was only a little heavier than balsa wood.
On the Bannockburn trail I noticed an unusual twist in a cedar trunk.
The Friday 24 LIFE hikers enjoyed Maitland Trail and the John and Marylo Graham Nature Reserve (just west of Sharpes Creek Line), there was less snow on the trees than on the Wednesday hike on the Lobb trails.
At Forster’s bridge on Sharpes Creek Line I stopped to check out the birds on the Maitland river and saw about 50 common golden eye and a similar number of Canada geese. In our area, in winter, ducks that are often seen are mallards, common goldeneye, and common mergansers, other ducks are very rare. In spring there is a much greater variety as birds migrate back from the south. On February 4th if you were a Canada Goose in Huron County the place to be was near the Menesetung bridge, as there were over 300 geese gathered there.
On Monday afternoon I had a short hike with Thyra and Chewy on the Hullett Sugar Bush trail and Thyra’s sharp eyes spotted some black dots on the snow that were moving. They were snow fleas which are actually springtails (Hypogastrura nivicola) not fleas. They have a glycine rich protein that gives them antifreeze properties. They eat fungi, algae, mold, bacteria and decaying organic matter. They are common in spring and summer but are usually only noticed on warm spring days when they appear as blackish dots against the white snow. She also spotted quite a few dead bees scattered on the top of the snow.
On Thursday six of us hiked from Morris Tract to Benmiller, ( 14.6-19.3km) which made me realize this is one of the rare occasions when a winter Maitland Trail end to end was practical. Normally the parts with steps, deep snow, and snow drifts make winter hiking very difficult. We earlier hiked the section River line to Sharpes Creek Line (29.9 to 35.6 km) on Dec 19th, and Jenkins to Morris Tract (7.6-14.6 km)on Jan 9th and 24.6 to 29.1 km on Jan 31st. We have not yet hiked one of the remaining tricky winter sections which has the 104 steps down from Cherrydale Road at 20.6 to 24.6 km. On Feb 6th I put on my icers and went down the Cherrydale steps without difficulty and hiked to the Cherrydale bridge (22.6 km). Along the way I saw a male cardinal on a tree and a pair of mergansers floating down the ice free Maitland river.
UPCOMING HIKES etc.
Saturday Feb 15th 1:30 to ski at John Goldie Reserve at a moderate pace for 1 ½ hours. If conditions are poor this will be hiking instead of skiing. Contact Con Melady (519) 524-8730 to pre-register and for details about location and carpooling.
Sunday Feb 22nd 5 p.m. United Way coldest night of the Year 2, 5 and 10 km walk in Goderich
In support of hungry, homeless and hurting. Go to cnoy.org to register
Sunday March 8th 2 p.m. International Women’s Day hike hosted by Bayfield River Trail Association
Saturday March 14th 9 a.m. Snowshoe or hike at Hullett Sugar Bush.
Sunday March 22nd 1:30 p.m. Point Farms hike
Mid Week Hikes
The Tuesday Trompers walk for about an hour at a moderate to slow pace starting at 9 a.m. Contact Al Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Uneven Hikers meet on Wednesday or Thursday. Hikes start at 9 a.m. for 1 ½ to 2 hours at a moderately fast pace. We hike only on the odd dates. e.g Wednesday Feb 5th and Thursday Feb 13th . Contact email@example.com
The Friday L.I.F.E. hikers usually meet at 8:10 at the Betty Cardno Centre in Clinton and hike for 1 ½ hours to 2 hours, one group at a moderate the other group at a moderately fast pace. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at email@example.com.