Trail Talk – September 12, 2018

There is quite a lot of spice bush on our area trails. Although I am not fond of most spices I love the smell of crushed spice bush leaves, described as a spicy citrusy smell. Female spice bushes now have red berries which can be used when dried and crushed as an alternative for all spice.

Now is the time when doll’s eyes can be seen , these are white baneberry’s fruit which are quite toxic so should never be eaten.

On August 30th Huron Stewardship group along with Ausable Bayfield Conservation sponsored release of snapping turtle hatchlings at Morrison Dam. This event was well attended especially by young children who learned that a Snapping turtle has to live to 15 or 20 years before it can lay eggs and many female egg laying turtles are killed when crossing roads in search of a suitable spot to lay eggs. If they survive these hazards they can live to be 100 years old. Unfortunately thousands of turtles are hit by cars, which is why snapping turtles are a species at risk.

I usually have difficulty in identifying the numerous mushrooms which are now visible on our trails. One that I could positively identify is Laetiporus sulphureus, chicken mushroom which is so called because it tastes like chicken, but is somewhat indigestible as it ages.

One of the many caterpillars around at this time is the white hickory tussock moth caterpillar, which is venomous You can get a reaction much like getting in a patch of stinging nettles. For most people it will sting and itch for 20 minutes or so before it goes away, though with some people, the reaction is more severe so it’s best not to handle them. There is a similar yellow caterpillar the yellow spotted tussock moth caterpillar which has similar effects on people.

I had an unusual reaction on September 3rd, I walked in the morning for an hour with Chewy, spent about an hour before lunch weeding out some spotted knapweed, and another hour of weeding after lunch. I later felt dizzy and nauseous and realized I was suffering from heat exhaustion, something I have never previously experienced. It took me several hours of resting before I was back to normal. It comes from too much exercise in hot weather without sufficient water intake. This could be a problem for the Maitland Camino hikers if there is hot weather that weekend and precautions aren’t taken. Hikers not familiar with the Maitland trail are often surprised by the number of hills that must be climbed, so, especially for those doing the whole trail, it is wise to get into shape with some longer hikes such as the one on September 15th.

On Wednesday September 5th hiking at a corner of the blue trail at Naftels at 9:30 AM we saw about 100 monarch butterflies flying around in the trees, the first time I’ve seen such a large gathering of monarchs. I have come across quite a few windfalls on the trails, there is a very large willow across the Clinton Conservation trail. When reporting one try to give an accurate location, e.g. distance from a km marker, to make it easier for a clean-up crew to locate it.

Upcoming Hikes

Saturday Sept. 15th 9:00 AM about 4.5hours River Line to Cherrydale Road moderately fast pace. (Sunday was the incorrect day)

Get in shape for the Maitland Camino with a 15-km hike from River Line to Cherrydale Road. Meet at 9:00 AM at Cherrydale Road to car pool to River Line. The hike is from 35.6 km to 20.6 km. The first section from River Line has several good climbs until crossing the creek at 32.9 km then a flat section along the river until having turned away from the river there is a steep climb at 30.9 km. We will walk for nearly a kilometer along Sharpes Creek Line before heading back into the woods and where there are the occasional lesser climbs and finally 104 steps up to Cherrydale Road. Bring water and a picnic lunch. Contact: Patrick Capper 519.606.0016 or email

Saturday September 22nd 10:30 AM Port Albert Beach Walk. Leisurely pace 1.5 hours

Join Anne and Diego in a walk through part of the village of Port Albert to the pebbly beach. Meet at the fisheries parking lot just below the bridge. We’ll check out the north side of the river. Contact: Anne Storey 519.529.3050 to register.

Saturday Sept. 29th to Sunday Sept 30th 2 day MTA El Camino registration is now open Cost $25 adults $10 if under 18 detail

Midweek Hikes

The Tuesday Trompers walk for about an hour at a moderate to slow pace starting at 9:00 AM. Contact Al Sanders at

The Wednesday hikes start at 9:00 AM for 1.5 to 2 hours at a moderately fast pace. Contact

The Friday L.I.F.E. hikers usually meet at 8:10 AM at the Betty Cardno Centre in Clinton and hike for 1.5 hours to 2 hours, one group at a moderate the other group at a moderately fast pace. Contact

If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at