Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wildflower Hike

I can't believe it's been three weeks since I led a wildflower walk for the Owen Sound Field Naturalists Club along the Bruce Trail on Old Baldy.  Sorry, I didn't actually take many wildflower pictures, because I was busy as the leader helping people identify what they were seeing.  But if you really want to see wildflower pictures, you can revisit my post of May 2015.

It was early in May, just as the leaves were starting to open, but the sun was still shining down on the forest floor, giving all those 'spring ephemerals' (wildflowers that depend on this early spring sunshine) the energy they need to bloom.  We followed the Mac Kirk Side Trail, marked by those blue blazes.

This was one of my few wildflower pictures, the Dutchman's Breeches, a picture I was pleased with.

But this is a nasty invader, the Garlic Mustard, springing to life in the sun.  It will spread relentlessly and out-compete our native wildflowers.  The local Bruce Trail Club organizes Garlic Mustard Pulls to try and keep it under control.
But once we came out to the cliff I did take several pictures, trying to capture this beautiful early spring season.  This is looking south.  Our house is just out of sight over the horizon about in the middle of the picture.

Looking straight west, the village of Kimberley in the centre along the road, and the old Talisman ski slopes in the upper right.
This early in the month, the Beaver River was running high, flooding well beyond its channel as it hit the flat land at the beginning of the long Silver Maple Swamp.

You can tell a lot by the trees at this time of year.  All the light yellow-green are Sugar Maples; the grey trees with no leaves yet are mostly White Ash.  And they are mostly young, marking the old pasture fields where they have grown in recent decades.

It was just that time of spring when the Pin Cherry leaves were out, the very first among trees in the woods, though mostly just small saplings.

As we headed out on the other trail, parts of the woods were a complete carpet of Dog-tooth Violet leaves, but very few blooms yet.  The whole hike was early enough that there were no bugs, so it was a beautiful day in the woods.

You'll see I figured out how to change my copyright.  Never thought about it before actually, but several of you have commented on it, so now we're up to date!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Almost too busy to blog tonight.  Made our fifth trip 'south' in 8 days, for doctor's apts. and other things.  Then went off to hear an interesting presentation tonight about local Bruce Trail volunteers who headed to Costa Rica last year to help build a hiking trail there.  Just got home, watching the sun set as we drove.  So here it is, tonight's sunset.

Sorry, have to remember how to change the date on that copyright.  This photo was taken tonight!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Walters Falls

Walters Falls is just one of about 7 waterfalls I got to earlier in May when we had a week of rain and rivers were running very high.  It was like spring melt all over again.

Located right in the village of Walters Falls, this falls is normally two separate streams of water falling nearly 50 feet over the cliff into a deep ravine along the escarpment.

The top of the falls has been modified to suit the old sawmill that used to stand here, giving two narrow channels for the water.  But with this much runoff the entire top of the falls was flowing with water, creating a semi-circular veil in the centre.

Below this the entire face of the waterfall was flowing with water, as it does every spring.

Here I was trying to 'stop' the water with an exposure of 1/2500th of a second.  Didn't quite do it.

Above the waterfalls is almost as interesting as below.  This is the only building left of the former sawmill, which burned down in 1984.  It was rebuilt nearby and is still operating, but no longer based on water power.  Never-the-less, just upstream of this mill pond is a still operating water powered grist mill, one of the few in Ontario.

Much of the year the water only flows over that spillway on the left, but with the high water, the entire dam was being overtopped by the water.  The big pipe formerly carried water to power the sawmill.

There's now a hotel beside the falls, and they've done a good job of providing a viewpoint over the falls, with a lot of wrought iron fence to provide access, above some of the foundation of the old mill.

But this year I see they've added a 'Do Not Climb' sign.  The Instagram generation likes to climb into the most dangerous positions possible, to get their adventurous photographs.  It's an increasing problem for publicly accessible waterfalls in Ontario, with no easy solution in sight.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Calm Day on the Bay

Not much time to blog tonight, been a busy weekend.  But here are a few pictures I liked of Georgian Bay in the early evening light two weeks ago.  One of those very rare days when there was barely a ripple on the water.

There seemed to be a bit of a haze in the far distance over the cold water, making it hard to even see the horizon.  It usually stands out in stark contrast between a dark and light blue.

There was one drifting sailboat out near that horizon.  Clouds in the distance make the horizon doubly difficult to see, but the view was beautiful.

It was almost calm enough to give clear reflections.  This is the best it got.

Can you see that faint horizon?  You're looking almost due north here, something over 100 km. to the far northern shore.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


We stopped by one of the Osprey nest platforms near the valley the other day, and there they were.  One sitting on the nest, and one standing guard across the road.

This is the setting, a rural country road, with far too many poles and wires, and a separate pole with an Osprey nest platform on it.

This was our first glimpse of one Osprey.

As we got closer, you could see the head of the second Osprey, sitting on the nest.  Not a good spot for pictures!!

But the other Osprey just sat there checking out the surroundings.

Then I think I disturbed them and off they went.

We left immediately then, not to disturb them further, our last glimpse one of the Osprey soaring overhead.

Linking to:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Continuing the Hike

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.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Yesterday's Hike

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!