Trail Talk 149 December 16th 2020

On Saturday I hiked at Varna on the Taylor and Mavis trails where there was very little snow. It was nice to see that the Bayfield River Valley River work crew had been busy putting wood chips down on the Mavis trail at many of the wet and muddy spots.  In the afternoon Thyra and friends hiked on the G2G from Millbank to Linwood, where they found nearly a third of the trail covered with snow drifts, which were often up to their knees. After that experience they decided to continue their weekly hikes closer to home and save the rest of their G2G hikes to spring time.  Thyra saw a couple of owls on the drive that day and Brian McCulloch saw an owl on the Menesetung trail on Monday, and Con Melady and John Beaver saw an owl at Kilgore’s, so I wonder if we will be seeing many snowy owls this winter.  They were quite common in the Sault Ste Marie area.

My Aunt Nancy loved owls, she had “A Book of Uncommon Prayer” by George Scott-Moncrieff,   with a  very appropriate Owl poem:           More silent than my muffled wings,        In silence, Lord, Thy greatness shows,

Thou hast no need like bird that sings,   For light Thy triumph to disclose.

For darkness lying like a shroud,               Translucent but to wiser sight,

Shall pick me from the heaving crowd     To glide with God across the night.


Thyra’s brother in law Bob McCaw has given me permission to use one of his many high class photos of a barred owl.(The featured photo)  He is a very well known nature photographer and you can view his photos at

At the Falls Reserve, I saw a barberry shrub covered with red berries, which are a good winter  food source for grouse. I had always thought these were American barberry but now believe they are European barberry as the fruit is oval, compared to the American barberry with ball like fruit.   I have not seen any geese flying overhead recently, but spotted over 30 geese swimming on the Maitland river above the falls. However on Tuesday afternoon I did finally see one flock of geese flying overhead.

Three Raccoons at 5 a.m.

I put some out of date cottage cheese and some left over scalloped potatoes at the bottom of our garden which is at the top of the Bayfield river bank.  I set up a “spy” camera at 6 o’clock to see what would come to eat the food.  A raccoon came at 8 p.m. and returned at 3:20 a.m. and then at 5 a.m. there were three raccoons eating the leftovers. I had not recently seen any raccoon tracks in the snow, so was surprised to see that there were at least three around. They must all be from the same household as they were not practicing social distancing.

Remains of River Bend Cottage

On Wednesday morning the “Uneven” hikers hiked at MorrisTTract and the River Bend loop.  I had not realized that the River Bend cottage had been burnt to the ground by vandals.  We had to step over numerous ash windfalls of which only one was a bit awkward. Some of these windfalls have now been cleared.  We found that the hill in Morris Tract, up from the bridge over the creek, had a very slippery spot.  The beavers have also been busy flooding  the bottom of Black Hole road by the gate.

Notes:  Hikers are expected to be socially distant from others.

Saturdays Dec 12th – Feb 27th at 10 am. Hikes at Varna (Taylor and Mavis Trails)

The Bayfield River Valley Trail will lead guided hikes every Saturday except Dec 26th, for up to 25 people after signing appropriate waivers etc.

The Woodlands Nature trail is still probably closed past the bridge due to uncleared storm damage.

The Lobb trail may be closed for logging, timing uncertain.

Tuesday Trompers meet at 9 a.m. every week at different trails for a one hour hike.

Uneven day hikers meet at 9 a.m.  for 1 ½ to 2 hour hike on Wednesday or Thursday whichever has an odd date, e.g Wednesday December 23rd    Contact pcapper.

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