Trail Talk 161March 10th 2021

What tail is this tree on ?

How well do you know the Huron County Trails? Which trail is this tree on?

Icicles on the Bannockburn river

Last week’s photo was of a tree near the end of the bridge over the Bannockburn river on the Bannockburn Conservation area trail.  This trail can be tricky at times due to the steep steps which, when snow packed, are a challenge, making the railing very welcome.  This trail has the most bridge/boardwalks of all the Huron County trails.  Although in summer time the water is sometimes only a trickle, there have been times in spring when the water was well over the bridge boards, and once on a Tuesday Tromp the river was higher than the trail at the end of the bridge, so we returned and hiked on the Varna trails instead.  In 2019 and 2020 many boards have been replaced, so now there is little chance of coming across broken boards.   The trail also passes through the one hectare study area, by ABCA as part of a global effort to monitor effects of climate change. On the Wednesday March 3rd hike we noticed many beautiful  icicles at the edge of the river. I only saw one deer track, compared to previous years when deer tracks were more common. Two woodpeckers had come to an untimely end, probably hairy or downies, all the feathers were black and white, except for one small feather  which was white , with a black spot and a yellow tip

On Thursday afternoon Feb 25th snow fleas (springtails) were out on top of the snow, and I saw some on several other days.  They are among the leaf litter in warmer weather and usually only noticed when they move about on top of the snow.

Some of the Uneven hikers at Bannockburn on March 3rd

On Friday on the way to the Lobb trail I stopped to allow 12 wild turkeys to cross the road.  On the Lobb trail I watched 40 golden eye ducks on the Maitland river, and now regularly see a few Golden eye when hiking on the Lobb trail.  The river at the Menesetung bridge was nearly all covered by ice when I was last there.  The rivers are now up with some spring thaw and the Bayfield river was well over the causeway at the Clinton Conservation area.

On Saturday afternoon I snow shoed the Maitland Trail from Sharpes Creek Line to the start of the John and Marylo Graham Nature Conservancy property. I was the first person on the trail for several weeks, but some canines (probably coyotes) and wild turkeys had been on the trail.  The coyote had leaped about 6 feet at one place and the turkey had left wing marks in the snow when it flew up from the trail.  I put a Toronto Ultimate dark blue toque on a post close to Bishop’s Road .  The trail was certainly a change from Lobbs where at times there have been over 30 vehicles parked by users.

This is the time of year when Icers are usually needed and, if you stray slightly off the beaten path, you are likely to sink in quite a bit. Spring flowers are a bit late this year, although skunk cabbage has been spotted in the Maitland Woods.

There is a big move planned.  The Maitland Trail Trailer presently at the North end of the Columbus parking lot will be moved before the middle of May to the South West corner, due to a land sale.

Dog waste is more than a nuisance to hikers on the Trail as it also causes water quality issues and negative health effects for humans and wildlife. Please pack out all dog waste. Carry your dog waste bags with you, even if you are hiking out and back on a particular segment. Use a smell-resistant container like an old Pringles can, or let your dog carry it out in her own backpack. Remember, dog poop degrades but is not a natural part of ecosystems. • Contains pathogens, parasites, and medications that are not natural. • Is carried by rainwater and snowmelt directly into waterways, where it causes bacterial contamination. • Is nitrogen-rich so it depletes oxygen levels in water and soil, hurting fish etc.

Be careful where you park. Someone parked on Cherrydale road near the Maitland trail access point. The problem was that the snow plough could not get past and so Cherrydale road was not plowed. A similar incident happened on Pinery Line. Please make sure that there is room for a snow plow to get past.

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

The Tuesday Trompers and Uneven hikers are back to a normal schedule.  Please be sure to sign on the online waiver which is good for the whole year. Go the Maitland Trail website and click on Scheduled Hikes and Waivers and fill out the on line waiver form.

The Bayfield River Valley Trail Association hikes on the Taylor and Mavis trails on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. and on Saturday March 20th at 2 p.m. lead a hike along with Denise Iszczuk, Education Specialist with ABCA on the Bannockburn trail.

Trails are all open but icers are advisable. It is always good to get out and enjoy nature

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

If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at pcapper99@gmail.com.