We're only half-way through Wednesday's hike, so here's the rest. It was almost all through a beautiful mature Sugar Maple forest, but I did have to slog uphill for quite a distance first.
You don't need words to describe the beauty of a hardwood forest in late May!
I spotted this patch of Ostrich Fern highlighted by the sun in the forest.
And these were the tiny still coiled fiddleheads of the Bracken Fern.
After we got up the hill, and headed north some distance, we came out to another spot along the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. There was no clear viewpoint, but we did catch glimpses through the trees, this one of Bowles Hill.
And this one the top of the ski runs at the Beaver Valley Ski Club.
Along the edge we found several dramatic crevices, this one plugged by a big limestone boulder. We couldn't even see the bottom of this crevice.
And this one was one of the deepest, widest crevices I've ever seen. Look at that flat rock wall on the right! Love to explore this, but I don't know if you could ever get down there without rock climbing.
Finally we crossed a little bit of hayfield, climbed the stile, and were back to the other car. I should say, normally my hiking buddy is very well prepared; he was distracted this time. We avoid two-way hikes by taking both cars, and leaving one at each end. I enjoyed this one, particularly the last half which I had never seen before.
I'm going to skip over the other several hundred pictures from May for the moment, and bring you up to date so you see what our world is like now. I'm tired of being three weeks behind. We had a lot of rain for a week there, and I went visiting my favourite waterfalls, so a lot of those pictures are waterfall pix. We'll return to those later. Yesterday was a nice hike along the Bruce Trail.
The leaves have come out enough now to really show up, especially in the sun. This is a branch of Beech leaves just unfolding.
The trail was an easy walk for the most part, the section from the hydro plant northwards, part of which I had never walked before. There were some hills I struggled with though.
Three young Basswood seedlings with their big heart-shaped leaves.
It was a beautiful day, and actually got hot for awhile. We were mostly under the trees, so the green leaves were all around.
One of the highlights of the hike was this remarkable spring, flowing strongly and bursting right out of the rock face. I've seen lots of springs along the escarpment, but not many like this!
This generated quite a stream that headed downhill. We could hear a waterfall it created further down, but could not get to see it.
A little further on, there was another stream, but this one a completely dry stream bed - though it had obviously been flowing with lots of water recently.
Partway down the ravine created by this stream some water did seep to the surface, and lower down still it created yet another waterfall, that we could just make out through the branches. This goes on my list for future exploration!
About half-way through the hike (and just before the hardest uphill section), we got a great view over the valley. This is the road curving up Bowles Hill if you know the area, and our house is just out of sight over the horizon on the far right.
There was even a bench to rest on. My hiking buddy had come totally ill-prepared this day, with no water, no bug repellent, no sunscreen, and even no hat. At least he remembered his boots. I really had to take care of him for the day. And he borrowed this hat when we stopped for coffee at the General Store in Kimberley - (the #1 general store in Canada!) He looked charming in it though!
SLOWLY, the leaves are unfolding, but this is the latest spring I can remember. It's as if spring has been on hold for 3 weeks, and now it's finally arriving.
We have a favourite road we drive down on our way to places further south; it goes through the woods for almost the entire concession. These first three photos were taken May 2nd, when the leaves were still just yellow-green opening buds.
There was a bit of green showing, but certainly no leaves in the canopy.
These next five photos were taken yesterday. It's a LOT greener, and the Sugar Maple canopy is filling in fast.
There are no homes along this concession, so it's not plowed in the winter, and the trees are not cut back to make room for snow banks. So we drive right through the woods at the edge of the road.
The canopy certainly isn't out entirely yet, but there's definitely a lot of green now.
Back near the beginning of May I led a hike with some students from the University of Guelph, along one of my favourite sections of the Bruce Trail. It was mostly through the woods, and early spring was just underway. And it was mostly downhill, my own choice!
It was a cool morning, with rain threatening, but it held off for our hike. These students are on a course that takes them off campus doing practical things and learning on their own for two weeks. It's a course I invented originally 20 years ago, and has no final exam. It's entirely up to the students how much they learn - but consistently they say they've learned more in this course than any other. I like to think that once you hand them responsibility for their own learning, they step up and it works.
The trail went past one of the largest dry sinkholes in this area,
and past my favourite stand of big old Sugar Maples.
The Wild Leek were bright green,
the Red Trilliums were in bloom, and
the White Trilliums were just coming out.
Perhaps a bit hard to make out, but these are about a billion tiny Sugar Maple seedlings carpeting the forest floor.
And a nice waterfall tumbling down a mossy slope.
We found these tiny tracks, and wondered what they were. The larger track in the upper left appeared to be a Raccoon track, but what are those two tiny tracks? This is one we didn't figure out.
The students all posed on the trail bridge for me. A great morning; helps keep me young at heart!
I've been on several walks in the woods over the past nearly a month since we arrived home from B.C. This one was back at the end of April, when the woods was still largely bare, but the first spring flowers were starting to bloom.
The occasion was the annual spring refresher workshop for volunteer Land Stewards with the Bruce Trail. We met in this tiny community centre in the hamlet of Woodford, halfway between Meaford and Owen Sound.
After the morning talks, there was an afternoon walk. There was a great turnout of enthusiastic volunteers, learning a lot of botany this year. Training focuses on different topics each year.
As we started on the walk, we passed this old lime kiln built into the edge of the short cliff. I'm standing on the Bruce Trail to take the picture.
And along the trail we started seeing the wildflowers. The Red Trillium comes out quite early, long before the White Trillium, our only other common trillium species.
Nearby was a patch of Blue Cohosh, still that somewhat purple colour it is when it comes out of the ground, but changing to green fast.
The tiny Sugar Maple leaves were just starting. With the cold weather, they stayed this size for nearly three weeks!
There were a few patches of Wild Leek, easily recognized at this time of year by its bright green colour. It doesn't bloom til later in the summer.
The Dogtooth Violet or Trout Lily wasn't open, as it was quite a cool day, but they were in bloom.
There were lots of White and Blue Violets in bloom.
And a few of last year's fern fronds, like this Maidenhair Fern, provide the promise of fresh new fronds to unfurl soon.
As for today, I was looking forward to working outside, but we've had rain on and off all day!