The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Waterfront Trail Part 2

Here are some more images from the Waterfront Trail in Ontario.  These photos span the distance between the cities of Port Hope and Scarborough.

Port Hope, Ontario

Old meets new along the waterfront trail

Not exactly the most scenic part of the trail...

That's right, the trail goes through the nuclear power plant's land!

It may seem odd to put the trail through these industrial areas, but part of the purpose of the trail is to bring attention to the waterfront and to make people aware of what is going on along the shoreline and to assist in the protection and regeneration of Lake Ontario. 

And underneath high voltage wires!

All power plants have a "buffer zone" around them to minimize their impact on surrounding populations. The trail winds through some of these areas giving bikers and hikers a close-up look at these installations.

And right up to GM's Canadian headquarters

There are also some natural areas

The Pickering Nuclear power plant

View from the overlook near Scarborough

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prince Edward County

The county of Prince Edward is a large peninsula 
formation in the northeast corner of Lake Ontario.  
(Not to be confuse with Prince Edward Island which is on the Atlantic seaboard and is its own province.)  

Before I began my shoreline hike of Lake Ontario, I wanted to explore "The County" as this area is affectionately called by Canadians.  

Thanks to whoever made this nifty sign in the sand

The geology of this area is quite varied with a large dune system at Sandbanks Provincial Park, some marshes, limestone cliffs, and a lake formed and fed 
separately from Lake Ontario called Lake-on-the-Mountain.  It is located 150 feet above the level of Lake Ontario.

Much of the county is farmed. Much of the land has been planted with grapes for wine.
There was one large farm planted entirely in lavender.

Lavender farm

Sand dunes at Sandbanks Provincial Park


Lake-on-the-Mountain is a modern mystery that has not been completely explained by geologists.  It is over 110 feet deep and fed by multiple springs.  It was strange to stand there and see this unique lake, then look down onto Lake Ontario far below.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Loughbreeze Bay B&B

I stayed at several B&Bs while hiking the north side of Lake Ontario in Ontario, Canada. The B&B owners were all wonderful and helped me to understand their communities and the history of the Canadian side of this Great Lake.

Did you know that the earliest settlers to parts of Ontario along Lake Ontario were colonists who were loyal to the British Empire who fled north after the Revolutionary War?  

About a third of early settlers were not supportive of the war, and the most adamant of these people were called "Loyalists." 

After the war, they left this new country and began fresh in Canada which was still under British rule. 

The Loughbreeze B&B is nestled along the shore of Lake Ontario near the town of Colborne, Ontario

Frances Linton-Schell (on the right) and her husband, Lawrence, were gracious hosts

Loughbreeze B&B

Back yard of the B&B overlooking Lake Ontario and Presque Isle Park

The Holcim Corporation owns a limestone mine near the B&B

Frances called over to the nearby mine in order to get permission for us to walk through it. 

NOTE:  Don't enter mines without the proper permission and guide. They can be unsafe -- often blasting the walls of the mine away with dynamite -- and it is illegal to trespass onto their property.

Limestone mining operation

Frances gives me a tour of the large mine

The mine offloads limestone directly onto ships at their dock

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail Part 1

The Waterfront Trail stretches from the city of Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border in Ontario, Canada. 

I hiked 146 miles of the trail last month from the city of Belleville to Toronto.  

From the Website for the trail:

Do More on the Shore!

The Waterfront Trail has been an instrumental part of Lake Ontario’s regeneration. Along it you will find a 900 km [that's about 560 miles!] celebration of nature and culture - where peaceful countryside, small towns and big cities are linked in bringing Lake Ontario to this province's residents and visitors, alike. Enjoy it for a day. Or make it a summer-long adventure. The Waterfront Trail will let you discover the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River waterfront...and what it can mean to you.

The Waterfront Trail represents a whole new way of thinking about the Lake Ontario and St Lawrence River waterfronts that emphasizes the links between ecological health, economic vitality, and a sense of community. It has helped inspire people to rediscover and improve the lakeshore, and been part of a transformation of under-utilized and environmentally degraded lands to vibrant places with businesses and jobs, parks and recreational facilities, natural habitats, cultural venues and attractions.

The trail is marked with this symbol along the way

Helpful signage at a turn

View from the trail west of Port Hope

I always stopped at fruit stands along the road!

Me and Lake Ontario!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Some Like it Hot...I Don't!

While hiking in April with the cold, windy weather, I looked forward to the warmer weather ahead.  When it gets much above 80 degrees, though, I tend to overheat and have to take precautions against heat exhaustion.

This is my old "wet bandana over the ears " trick

With many days above 85 degrees, I had to improve on the first method of cooling off.  I began rolling ice in my bandana at the beginning of the day and securing it around my neck.  Ahhhhhhh..... 

Hydration is always key to keeping cool, and I went through many gallons of water and sports drinks on this hike so far.

Even Ben used the wet bandana trick

"Florence of Arabia" look

On ultra-sunny days, I would wet my bandana and put it under my hat to cool me and protect me from the sun's rays.

"Little Red Riding Nerd" look 

 I found that tying the wet bandana underneath my chin was even more effective in cooling me off. Not a great look, but it beat passing out on the shores of Lake Ontario!

Of course a dip in Lake Superior was the best way 
to get out of the heat.  
Go Ben!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Warsaw Caves Conservation Area

I hiked this geologically significant area located between Lakes Huron and Ontario. It was here (just NE of Peterborough, Ontario) that a wall of water over 50 feet tall rushed as the flow of the upper Great Lakes stopped flowing north and rushed to the south. This happened approximately 10,000 years ago. This reversal was due to a combination of the land to the north rebounding from the weight of the glaciers and the melting of ice dams which had prevented flow to the south. 

When the water changed course, it marked this area in a unique and dramatic way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thimble Berries and Petroglyphs

While hiking along Lake Superior near Copper Harbor, the thimble berries were in bloom.  

Ben and I stopped to pick them along the way.

The leaf of the thimble berry plant is quite distinctive... is the berry, so mistakes in identifying them...

...are rarely made...just kidding!  They were delicious!

A friend in Copper Harbor directed our hike to an area nearby that had petroglyphs (carving on stones). The authenticity and dating of some of these is still in question, but one of them (the ship) is now protected under glass.  For a better photo of and more information about these petroglyphs click HERE or HERE

This house petroglyph looked rather recent

This ship may tell the tale of the copper trade through this area over a three thousand years ago

A "sungod" symbol (circle with cross) and a figure with a bird head

Beech Bark Disease

From the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore website:

Beech Bark Disease has spread throughout the National Lakeshore, resulting in many dead and dying beech trees. Be aware of these trees and the potential for falling branches and trees.

This disease is initiated by a non-native insect accidentally introduced into the United States. Secondary attack by both native and non-native fungi further stresses American beech trees and causes an unusually large number of weakened and dead beech trees. The insect and fungus pose no direct threat to humans. There is no practical control method in large natural forests.

Ben and I saw the devastation caused by this tiny,
invasive insect throughout our hike.  

It is amazing how destructive invasive species can be.  

In this case it just weakens the tree's defenses so it falls prey to secondary attacks from fungi that would normally 
not harm the trees. 

Ben and a beech tree under attack

Beautiful, yet deadly

This last tree isn't a beech, but it had a large fungus on it

Monday, August 6, 2012

Critters in the Upper Peninsula

The Upper Peninsula is a wild place and many creatures make their home in this 
often harsh wilderness.

Here are a few I captured with my camera.

Large toad freezes, thinking: "You can't see me when I hold still."

The setting sun lit up this bunny's ears

These stable flies were a nuisance, biting any exposed flesh 

A great blue heron flies along the lakeshore

Bald eagle takes flight

Very large beetle

This beetle had special grippers on its front legs and it emitted a strong-smelling secretion in protest of being held

Common mergansers take flight

Track of a small cat...bobcat?

Slugs were plentiful and often raced down the trees

Up close slug

Chipmunks ruled the lakeshore, scurrying everywhere

I also saw scat from larger predators (coyote and bear) and heard deer crashing around at night.