Trail Talk 187 September 15th 2021

A lookout at Lions Head
A spotted tussock moth caterpillar

From Monday August 30th to Thursday September 2nd  I was staying at Tobermory and exploring a little bit of the Bruce Trail.  The big difference about hiking there was that virtually everywhere it is paid parking from $3 an hour for a maximum of 3 hours in town, $11.90 in a Provincial park and $5/hour at some places such as McCurdy Drive – the access to the Lions Head part of the trail. Reservations are required for parking at Lions Head trail and for Cypress Lake etc. – even for day hiking,  as parking space is limited.  The other very noticeable thing was the number of hikers out on the trail, which was fairly quiet in the early morning but from 10:30 to noon returning from Lions head I must have met at least 70 hikers coming up the trail.  I found the trails well marked and varied from an excellent surface to quite challenging trails with limestone rocks for footing.  I did not see much wildlife, but did see a spotted tussock moth caterpillar on the trail and at one lookout a rock pigeon was on the cliff. I also saw my year’s first warblers, one an unidentified yellow one and one a black and white warbler.

On Sunday, back in Huron County, I hiked the Hullett Sugar Bush Trails- what a contrast!  I met no other hikers, the trail surface was flat and I did not have to constantly look at the trail to carefully place my boots.

A hiker’s code is “Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but foot prints”.  Therefore I have some concerns about the growing movement of foraging, which can be overdone.  I have read where wild leaks were eliminated by over harvesting.  So I am cautious about suggesting harvesting of spice bush.  However, trail maintenance includes pruning back growth that is hanging over the trail and the three most common shrubs that have to be pruned back are dogwood, nine bark and spice bush.  The Backyard Forager mentions that tea can be made from fresh or dried leaves and twigs of spice bush.  The red berries can be used, however I would recommend that you only take a few and leave most for the birds, even when, like this year, there is a very good berry crop.  The berries can be dehydrated and used as flavouring for apple cobbler. One recommendation is to use the twigs for flavouring ice cream. Keith suggests, “Grind up the twigs in the coffee grinder and add to warm ice cream base. Strain out the twigs and you are left with the best tasting ice cream on the planet- a combination of citrus, nutmeg and cinnamon”.

A Closed Gentian

On Wednesday September 8th I hiked on the Maitland Trail near Bishop’s road, where three Closed Gentian are now in bloom. When I had nearly got back to my car I found that my camera had dropped out of the pouch at my belt so I retraced part of my route without luck, when I returned after lunch   I found it lying on the trail.  I think a twig had caught the strap and pulled the camera out, luckily it was undamaged. On the way there it was interesting that in the morning there were just 20 gulls and two herons, and in the afternoon about 150 gulls, 22 Canada geese, three turtles and one heron.

The rain cooperated for our Thursday hike at Hullett, stopping for the one and half hours. I noticed a group of closed gentian on the green trail that I had not seen previously.

.          Sunday September 26th, 1:30 p.m. The second of four Sunday afternoon bicycle rides on all, or part of the GART. (the others are on  Oct 10th and 24th.)   Meet at McGaw Siding on G2G, 911#81652 Lucknow Line, Ashfield Colborne Wawanosh (ACW) heading West for 12 km to Goderich Harbour and return to the start for a total of 23.2 km. Preregistration contact Con Melady 519-524-8730

Sunday September 26th 2 p.m. join the Bayfield Valley Trail Association for a hike on the Lobb trail. Expect to take 2 to 3 hours.Leaders are George Ebers and Ralph Blasting.  For more information call George at 519-482-7572.

There is no Maitland El Camino event this year, but probably one in September 2022.

Tuesday Trompers hike for about an hour contact Al Sanders at allan.sanders@hurontel.on.ca.

Uneven  Hikers  hike for 1 ½ to 2 hours on Wednesdays or Thursdays contact Patrick Capper. Both groups meet at 9 a.m.

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.