Trail Talk 58 March 20 2019

The featured trail this week is the Morrison Dam Conservation Area trail (#27 in the Huron County Hiking Guide).  The trail starts at the parking lot on Morrison Line ( East of Exeter) and just south of County Road 83.  There are pit toilet facilities at the parking lot.  The main trail plus the extra loop take about an hour.  The trail is relatively flat and you have some nice views of the lake behind Morrison dam which often has many ducks and geese on it. Last year in the middle of May I counted 111 jack in the pulpits on this trail, and last year the lake was the site of the snapping turtle hatchlings release by Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority.   A memory of winter hiking on this trail is ploughing through deep snow drifts especially on the North east corner of the trail near a field.  These drifts occur when wind blows snow across the field onto the trail.   If you want a longer hike you can cross over Morrison Line and hike the MacNaughton–Morrison trail which I will cover in a future trail talk.  The area’s white squirrels may be seen on these trails. The white squirrels are not albino squirrels, and are also sometimes seen in the Seaforth and Clinton area.

On Saturday March 9th I hiked the Lobb trails and met several skiers who expected that this was their last chance to ski this winter. I also spotted the usual 10 or so chickadees at the feeder and the red bellied woodpecker.  There was bits of ice floating down the river so I was surprised to see 10 mergansers,  normally I only see them when the river is free of floating ice.

On Sunday March 10th I hiked part of the Maitland trail from Jenkins (7.6km) to about 9.5 km and found that many parts were very icy.  The South bank of the river had a wall of ice which very much reminded me of conglomerate rock ( e.g. pudding stone).  The pudding stone in the photo was found on a trail near St Joseph’s island, jasper gives the rock the red parts.

Pudding Stone Conglomerate
Ice on the bank of the Maitland River

The weather has been giving us extremes from very cold to quite warm, but despite mild temperature you can expect to find ice on many of our trails for quite some time.  The most common parts to stay icy are where there has been sufficient traffic to pack the snow and where there are trees on both sides of the trail stopping the sun from reaching the trail, a good example being the GART just east of where it crosses highway 21.

On Tuesday March 12th I hiked the GART with the Trompers from the rock to near the Tomb without icers- keeping to the side of the trail occasionally to avoid the ice. By afternoon most of the Maitland Woods trail was very icy, and in the evening the Front Rd trail was icy on the South side and snow packed on the North side. At 6 p.m. for the first time I saw beaver swimming in the Bayfield river. On Wednesday some hikers saw a deer crossing the road and Doug pointed out a deer in Hullett, and on the way home I interrupted eight turkeys crossing the road.

Keep a lookout for swans as they head northwards. On March 14th  The Lambton Museum reported seeing hundreds of tundra swans.  I have spotted red-winged blackbirds were back in the Black hole area.