Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall's Splendour!

It seems that in any given year we get the same amount of great weather. We might have a lousy spring and a great summer or a lousy winter and a good fall. Rarely can we say that all four seasons have been great in a given year. Besides someone who skis might like a snowy winter while those that don't would prefer one day of snow on December 25th and green the rest of the year. I enjoy the outdoors and generally accept whatever weather we have. Having said that I like the spring and fall the most and if pressed will tell you that fall is my favourite season. I like that the air is cooler without being cold, and the lack of bugs, and the sound of the fallen leaves beneath my feet.
With that as my preamble I have to tell you that this past week has provided us with some glorious weather. I almost regretted hanging the canoe for the winter! However since the canoe was put away we have had the chance to do some biking and some hiking. I have been exploring the Wilmot Creek area this past while and have spent a few hours hiking at Samuel Wilmot Nature Area. This is a nice little area that is bordered by the Wilmot Creek retirement subdivision on the west and the Port of Newcastle subdivision on the east. I imagine in the spring that the migrants coming over the lake will flock down into this pocket of nature. As the years go by much of the area that is now open field will regenerate providing a larger target for those migrants and it may become a birding hotspot similar to Thickson's Woods.
Just to the north of the Nature area is an MNR Fishing Area. This protects the both sides of the creek from development pretty much from Lake Ontario to the 115 Highway.
The fishing area has limited trails as most of the fishermen are walking in the river with waders seeking out the Rainbows and Salmon that use Wilmot creek for spawning. A few miles north the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority's Thurne Park is a little used area along the Wilmot. The forest here is dominated by cedar but again the main attraction is the fish in the creek. In the fall the salmon are everywhere and with the creek being only ten feet or so wide the viewing is great. At this time of year the creeks are crystal clear unless there has been recent heavy rains. Just a mile or so north of Thurne Park is the Orono Crown Lands. This is the largest chunk of public land in the Wilmot creek watershed. I visited this area twice in the last week and enjoyed it immensely both times. On the first ocassion I was alone and followed the trail off the Station St parking area straight in to creek itself and then followed the creekside trail south to the fifth concession and back. The parking lot was full when I left and I saw a few groups in the first fifteen minutes but once I got onto the creek trail I saw only one other couple. Along the creek the forest is dominated by Cedars again and some of them are quite large by Southern Ontario standards. There were a few signs of Pileated woodpeckers with the rectangular holes in the side of the trees. Along the stream I would occasionally see the skeletal remains of a dead salmon. I am always amazed that wild animals aren't scavenging these fish more often. As I returned up to the parking area I watched a trout hiding under the edge of the old railway bridge structure. It looked like a rainbow to me and it was about 10 inches in length!
On sunday Lianna and I and the boys returned to Orono and hiked north through the pine plantings. The ground was covered with pine needles and the air was scented with that north woods piney smell. We were pushing Jake in his jogging stroller and he was loving the sights of the forest. Isaiah was making "walking sticks" with any dead branches that fit his specifications, and practicing his pole vaulting. The trail to the north is quite wide and makes me look forward to the x-country ski season as it would be a great little loop for skis or snowshoes.
Tuesday afternoon the weather was still holding and I went for a ride in Stephen's Gulch. Here the forest is more deciduous and the ground was thick with leaves. There is something about the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot or under your wheels that makes you wish it was autumn all year long!
I guess the whole point of this post is that you really don't need to travel far to find that outdoor activity. Chances are there is a conservation area or park nearby. Get out there and kick up some leaves!

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