While driving on Stone School Line on February 24th I was surprised to see a white squirrel running across the road. This is the first white squirrel I have seen North of Clinton. White squirrels are most often seen on the MacNaughton-Morrison Trail in Exeter and are sometimes seen in Seaforth and Clinton. Other sightings were snow drops out in the garden, a red winged blackbird on February 26th at the start of the Front Road Trail, robins on the trail at River Line and a bald eagle in a field on Base Line. There is a report of a bear being sighted near the junction of the GART and the Maitland Trail.
The Front Road trail is one of the Huron County trails that is not yet in the Huron County Hiking Guide. It is located east of Clinton on Front Road, South of the bridge over the Bayfield River on the West side of the road. It is quite flat and takes about half an hour to walk. It is owned by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, and is now well marked and has boardwalks etc. over the wet areas. It is mostly in a pine forest but has views of the Bayfield river. I have seen deer, wild turkeys, and rabbits while hiking the trail. It is the only official hiking trail where I have seen a train.
While on the Clinton Conservation Area trail on Wednesday Feb 28th the path across the Bayfield river was covered with water. The crossing is an unfortunate design of 16 culverts that are often not large enough to handle the water flow, this was more often the case when the beavers built a dam upstream of the path and then were intent on blocking the culverts with sticks, stones and mud. They pushed some very large stones into the culverts. I quite often went down at dusk hoping to see them in action but never did see then, until in broad daylight I saw one swimming in the pond at the edge of the river. The beavers have cut down some incredibly large diameter trees, one of which was carried by the recent flood waters to block the trail.
I hiked the part of the Maitland Trail at River Line on March 1st, where many Maple trees have now been tapped with a system I had not seen before. Most parts of the trail were free of snow, but at Skunk Cabbage Hill there were skunk cabbages poking up through the snow. The creek at Horse Folly Hill had eroded the banks further, but fortunately not undercut the trail. The hill was so named after evidence of someone taking a horse up the trail despite the many steps and narrow section with steep drop offs.
In the photo in Trail Talk 3, I incorrectly identified the hiker as Pat Healy when it was Jeanette Irwin, sometimes it is difficult to identify hikers wrapped up in their winter outfits, my apologies.
The flood water has damaged the Olde Menesetung trail, part of which is now closed.
If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at firstname.lastname@example.org.