Trail Talk 165 April 14th 2021

What section of the Maitland Trail can you see this ( hint the section also has periwinkle flowers)

How well do you know the Maitland Trail? Which section is this on? Hint – the periwinkle photo was taken on the same section of the Maitland Trail.

Last week’s photo was of the flood at the bottom of Black Hole Road due to beaver activity.  This is an on-going problem that one day the Maitland Trail hope to solve.   One way to avoid this area is to take the blue side trail close to the top of the Black Hole Road hill, which comes out on the main trail near the 13 km mark. However this blue trail often has wet spots on it.  I opened the culvert to drain the flood over the road, but the beavers will probably quickly plug it up again.  As of April 8th the pond at the bottom of the hill was quite small

The section from about 9.5 to 10.5 km is now open again(between Jenkins and River Bend),but is likely to be closed later on this year when the reroute from about 8.8 km to the stile on Black Hole road must be used.   There is now a hole in the fence so that a dog can get through instead of being carried over the stile.

Beaver at work at River Bend

The other problem at River Bend is that sometimes the beavers dam the main trail to enlarge the pond and raise the water level.  This was the case on March 30th when I saw the beaver busy at work.  (The first time I have seen one there). He must have known he was safe in the Nature Conservancy property, as he was in no hurry to move until he spotted Chewy and then leisurely swam away without even a smack of his tail.  This dam was quite easy to walk, but the lower part of the blue trail which is a short cut up to 10.5 km was well flooded so you needed waterproof boots that were well above your ankles to avoid getting wet. On April 8th the pond had been drained and both trails were dry.   The rest of the trail up to the junction where it meets the main trail was fine. I returned along the hogs back ridge of the main trail.  John Hazlitt discovered that, in the early 1900s, the plan was to dam the Maitland river and have a hydroelectric power plant there.   This would have created a lake back to near Benmiller.  The scheme was abandoned after one of the promoters made off with the funds.  This part of the trail also includes a large flat area which was a staging area for logs before they were floated down the Maitland.  I have always thought it would be great place for a square dance.

On Sunday March 28th I saw what I think are likely to have been the last bits of snow on the local trails. There was one small patch at Lobb’s and I cleared a patch on the Maitland Trail at Snowdrift Hill.  The Maitland River was well up from the heavy rain, so was quite murky so I was surprised to see seven mergansers on the river, as I thought they would have too much trouble seeing their prey in the muddy water.

Daphne

Despite the very changeable weather there are quite a few shrubs and trees that now have buds showing, and on March 30th I saw the first daffodils in bloom in our neighbour’s garden, they always seem to bloom a day or two ahead of any of our daffodils. I also saw a few blossoms on a Daphne shrub along our trail.  These are quite common on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste Marie, but less common here.  The small purple blossoms appear just before the leaves.  I have seen Daphne in the Maitland Woods but not in the last couple of years.

On my River Bend walk I thought I would not see any wildflower blossoms, but as I walked up Black Hole road hill I saw a group of coltsfoot in bloom. One unusual sight on the trail was a golf ball on the middle of the trail – miles away from any golf course. As of early April some bloodroot are blooming as are sharp- lobed hepatica, most of them are white but some have a purple tinge. The blue cohosh are just coming up.

If you have any spare plants donate them to the John Hindmarsh Environmental Trust and Maitland Trail Association plant and compost sale. (Donations accepted from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. May 2nd at the Columbus Centre parking lot.-however this may be postponed due to lockdown))

The Maitland Trail green Maintenance trailer in the Columbus parking lot will be relocated to Regent street before mid May.

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

All scheduled hikes are now cancelled to at least the end of April due to Ontario lockdown regulations.  The Bayfield Woodland Trail will be closed April 25th to May 31st – due to turkey hunting season.

There is a “ Scavenger Hunt- Sort of” in the Maitland Woods, Millennium trail, Sifto Loop and part of the GART. See the Maitland trail website for the details.

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

Note there was no Trail Talk on April 7th due to the Goderich Signal Star change in deadlines

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