The featured trail this week is the Maitland Cemetery Trail ( #7 in the Huron County Hiking Guide). This trail at the North end of the cemetery was severely damaged by the 2011 tornado, and as a result the fallen trees were removed and a series of intersecting trails were made with wood chips and many individuals and organizations made donations for replanting trees. I thought the donation of oaks from the city of Oakville was very appropriate. After the tornado but before the fallen trees were removed I hiked with Chewy in the area and a photo of Chewy and me was in the Feb 15th 2012 Signal Star labeled as “a hiker and his dog”. If you hike the trails by starting at the back of the cemetery, taking the upper and lower trails and a few of the loops with wood chips, expect to take about an hour. There is a nice lookout over the Maitland river down to where there used to be Piper’s dam. Near this lookout is a dead osage orange tree that did not survive transplanting from Trafalgar street. Osage orange trees are very thorny and were used by pioneers in fence lines. Notable ones are on airport line and on the campus of Western University. A smallish specimen is on the Woodlands Nature trail and a few young ones have been planted in some Huron County forests. At the east side at the Cemetery entrance there is a short trail that is usually difficult to find as it is not often maintained.
On the January 8th Tuesday Tromp at the cemetery I was surprised to see some brown mushrooms growing out of the wood chips, an unusual winter sight. On February 4th I saw another interesting mushroom display on a stump on our property. On February 1st eleven LIFE hikers braved the cold to hike on the Lobb trail, nicely packed by Murray Lobb so snow shoes were not necessary. There were ducks on the Maitland river and we were not sure if they were common mergansers or common goldeneye. That evening there was a very successful candlelit walk with about 500 out to admire the lanterns. On Saturday I hiked the Lobb trail taking binoculars and saw both golden eye and mergansers on the river. On the Tuesday Tromp on Feb 5th the Maitland Woods trail was almost continuously icy, so icers were a great help. I have used various icers which at times have come off and eventually spent the $55 for a Lee Valley pair which are easy to put on and take off and work very well; they were very helpful on the following day on the Sugar Bush trails.