Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bighead River Earthcache

After seeing the old hydro plant ruins that I described yesterday, we headed on down the trail and up a very steep big hill.  We hadn't seen the actual river for awhile, but now we were on top of a very tall steep bank on a path lined with White Birch trees and could see the river through the trees.

Off to the right through the trees we began seeing the river.  We were a long way above it!

And this view we came out to is the site of the Bighead River Earthcache.  An earthcache is a site that a geocacher needs to visit and answer set questions, usually about the geology of what you're seeing.  Here there has been a major landslide down the clay slope in the immediate foreground (just a few weeks ago), and the river channel is on the far side of the valley.  You can see what looks like an old river channel coming toward us across the bare gravel on the right, and passing to the left at the bottom of the slope.

Look at the contrast with this view taken by another geocacher, in 2011!  There's a significant channel doming toward us on the right, and passing to the left at the bottom of the slope in the immediate foreground.  What a change in 3 years!  At some point the river has broken through the clump of trees on the left, leaving the main channel on the far side.  Full credit to 'Maxter86' for the photo.

As we moved on down the river valley, we got a number of interesting further views of the river.  At this point the river was cutting through the Georgian Bay Formation, the same geological layer that forms the Claybanks which I described a few weeks ago.

We started looking at the river from the viewpoint of canoeing or kayaking down it.

But if you took a close look, it appears this would be impossible.  Just two many rocks and shallow spots, with fast current in between.  You'd be bouncing from rock to rock trying to kayak down here.

By this time we were back down at the level of the river, and got a good look at the currents.  Here the main current is not the one in the foreground, but the one further back on the right.

 But we quickly decided that this corner would be deadly!  You'd go over so fast in a canoe or kayak trying to make that bend in a fast current, you wouldn't have a chance.  And there in the distance is the first bridge we came to, as you enter the town of Meaford and the end of our hike.


Walking time with dog = 30 minutes.  Hiking time on trail = 2 1/4 hours (hiking a long section of the Bruce Trail with a friend).


  1. Rivers are living and do what they want even if engineers think they can control and change the river. Here houses are built too close to the river. Then they haul in riprap to try and keep the river in the same place.

  2. The birch trees look pretty against the blue sky.
    That is quite a change in the river in a few years.
    I see your are keeping up with your walking. : ) Good for you.

  3. Makes me think of the Olsen River near us. Last year with the spring melt and a huge rain, the river cut a huge section of bank away and hurled massive trees, dirt, sand and rocks down towards the lake. We was a mass of debris gloat past our cabin and the water was cloudy and green for over a month until the silt finally settled. Made me think we were living on a bayou. - Margy

  4. The river would almost certainly be OK to kayak in the spring when snow-melt and spring rains raise it significantly. I had an acquaintance who kayaked streams far more complex than that appears to be. Unfortunately he's dead now -- and no, not from a boating incident.

  5. Very interesting. Rivers change so much over time. I imagine when the water is up this one would be a kayaker's dream, but it does look pretty dangerous now with all those rocks.

  6. I also wondered if it would be kayak-able in the spring with more water. I hope you don't try it, though. Lovely pictures of the birch trees. :-)

  7. These shots very much have the feel of late fall. Beautifully captured! The river would be problematic, if not outright deadly to try to kayak.

  8. Love those birch trees and the winter scenes.

  9. Beautiful photos ! Such a lovely area . Yes I think the river bend there would be deadly looks like the rapids would pick up fast and toss ones boat into rocks that look like they layer the bottom looks shallow in some places . What an adventure though eh? Thanks for sharing , I would love to go skating in the winter all down that river what scenery and fun that would be ! Have a good weekend !