Friday, May 9, 2014

Walking the Trail with Students

Twice this week I've been out leading a group of University of Guelph students along sections of the Bruce Trail, interpreting what they were seeing - trying to get them to open their eyes knowledgeably to the world around them.  They were enthusiastic and interested (and had more energy on the uphill stretches than I did!).

We started out in a white pine plantation on the Bruce Trail property for which I am the volunteer Land Steward, and discussed both how and why the recent thinning was done. You can see some of the left-over logs behind to the right, and notice how open the canopy is now that it's been thinned. Hopefully this will lead to a more ecologically diverse forest over time.

On the rest of the walk I discussed numerous different features of interest that we passed, from sinkholes to big trees, to geology to the Bruce Trail itself and how it is cared for (by volunteers like myself).  We worked especially on recognizing the different vegetation types we saw.  This is part of a field course that I actually invented while teaching at Guelph years ago, and is a course totally composed of field work.  The older 'student' at the front of the line is another prof, who has taken over the course now that I'm retired.  He was great - 'cause he enthusiastically agreed with everything I said!

This section of trail goes past one of the more interesting waterfalls along the escarpment here, in this case flowing right under that chalet at the top.  They'd never get permission to build that today!  The upper falls in the picture is over the harder Amabel dolostone that forms the upper layer of the escarpment.

The lower falls is over the Manitoulin dolostone, composed of thinner layers that you can see in the upper right.  By leaning against a tree I got the picture I wanted, even though I was shooting at a very low speed, a full 1/4 second exposure.

I did not stop to take close-ups when I was leading this group, but we did find this liverwort in an interesting location.  I'm used to seeing it on vertical rock walls in deep crevices, but here it was on the top surface of a boulder by the stream.  I looks like it had a hard winter!

We ended shortly after posing for the group shot on this new bridge.  Personally I liked the old 'Irish Bridge', the stepping stones, which I still walked across.  A group of volunteers built this bridge last year.  All in all it was two great mornings of sharing my love of nature with some younger minds!


  1. Beautiful views, and it looks like it was an ideal day for it.

  2. Always best to encourage those at the back on the uphill sections!
    I wish I was able to sneak into that group and join the walk.

  3. WoW, what a wonderful expedition!! time with young adults, beautiful views, waterfalls and i don't see one cell phone!! YeH!!!

  4. That sounds and looks like a great time. Love that bridge!!

  5. Wonderful hike and I bet the students learned a lot. Hope they continue hiking after graduation. I would love to live in that chalet!

  6. Awesome! And you are a trail adopter too. Another reason to like you.