Monday, June 15, 2020

Lindsay to Beaver River

After walking over 45 km yesterday, and getting to sleep around 1:30 am, it felt like this morning arrived far too quickly. We took things slowly until 10:00 am, when we had an interview with Katrina Squazzin from Chex News / Global News in Peterborough. We met on a section of trail that runs through the Sir Sandford Fleming College Campus in Lindsay. We were very excited for this wonderful opportunity to share our story, but soon realized our interview skills could probably use some work.

                                                                                  Chex News Peterborough
After speaking with Katrina, we set off along the trail out of Lindsay. The pathway took us behind a row of subdivision houses that backed onto a stand of cedars, and we were delighted to see that many of the houses had filled bird feeders on their decks. Sadly, in the rising heat there weren't too many feathered visitors as we passed.


When the trail took us into the woods we came across a Star-nose Mole! These velvety, black, hamster sized moles can be found in moist, low areas across eastern North America. It is the only mole with this specialized 'nose,' which is a touch organ it uses to feel it's way around. The 'star nose' is covered in 25,000 minute sensory receptors, called Eimer's organs. Sadly, the mole scurried to safety before a photo was possible.


As we headed our into the countryside, we noticed a slight change in the landscape. Gone were the rolling hills and drumlins characteristic of the region around Peterborough. Instead, we found ourselves in relatively flat, open, and expansive countryside under a nearly cloudless blue sky.


Almost immediately it was clear that today was a Cedar Waxwing day. Quite often we have days where many of the birds we see belong to one species, and the species varies depending on what habitat we are walking through. Today we caught glimpses of the elegant tan plumage, highlighted with lemon yellow and cherry red accents of Waxwings flitting in and out of the trailside bushes, and chasing each other among the treetops.


Overall today was very peaceful. The countryside was a pleasant mix of hay fields, corn, wheat, and fallow fields. We mostly walked along a treed corridor that threaded it's way through the fields, giving us a little shade and supporting plenty of bird life. American Goldfinches were plentiful, as were Song Sparrows. Yellow Warblers darted back forth, American Robins protested noisily, and Common Grackles fed their demanding youngsters in the undergrowth.

 All day we saw only a handful of people. A couple cyclists passed us in the late morning. Two young ladies cycled past in the early afternoon, depositing colourful, painted rocks with encouraging messages as they went.


As we trekked along, shortly after crossing a concession roadway, we noticed a quiet little sign on the side of one post.  We took a moment to check it out  and found out that someone had posted an image of Trevor Holloway, noting that he was here with his friends on May 18, 2019.  We surmised that Mr. Holloway had since passed on - but that his friends were glad to have spent time with him on this trail.  A touching reminder that we all want to be remembered and that we all leave legacies in our wake.  Another wonderful memory found along the Trans Canada Trail.


At one point we came to a covered pavilion with two intricately carved wooden posts on either side. The structure was built by the Pickleseed Company that was located across the road, and when we arrived the shelter was occupied by a cyclist. It turned out he was a train enthusiast, as well as someone who loves the prairies, and had dreamed of one day living there. After speaking with him I felt slightly more optimistic about hiking across the prairies.

As we continued on through the hot afternoon sun the air was warm and smelled of mown hay and wild flowers. The sides of the trail were filled with yellow, white, and purple blooms, and as we walked through the lazy, quiet afternoon we could hear the buzzing of bees in the sweet smelling blossoms all around us.


We entered a stretch of trail between unmown hay fields, and paused to listen to the strong, sweet call of Eastern Meadowlarks, the computerized sound of Boblolinks, and the rough squeak of Red-winged Blackbirds in the field. As we stood there, a beautiful, healthy White-tailed deer erupted out of a small ditch and bounded down the edge of the field. A few moments later she was followed by a fawn!


As we watched the deer and her fawn, we noticed that the mom always tried to keep herself between us and her baby. Suddenly, two Wild Turkeys popped up beside the pair, and began running on their strangely long legs towards the shelter of the trees at the far edge of the field.

Shortly after that excitement we came to the end of the Kawartha Trans Canada Trail section. We were sad to see the end of this beautiful, well-maintained, and well-signed trail, but the Durham Trail turned out to be a treat as well.


A few kilometers into the new trail section we came to a newly downed Trembling Aspen tree that had fallen across the path. We think this was the first tree we've had to climb over so far in Ontario, which is pretty impressive after 500 km of hiking!


After that we came to a small cattail marsh, and Sean spotted a Black-billed Cuckoo perched on a dead snag at the edge. This is only the second Cuckoo we've seen. An Eastern Kingbird flew low over the marsh, a Great Crested Flycatcher let out a hoarse call, and several Red-winged Blackbirds called.


A little farther on Sean had to rescue a Midland Painted Turtle from the trail, which promptly starting peeing in fear. It was crossing an area that had quite a bit of garbage on it, including several sets of abandoned tires. The ATV barriers had been removed in this stretch as well, and there were tracks leading into the marsh. We thought the turtle was safer on the trail edge in this section.

By about 7 pm we had covered nearly 28 km and were more than ready to stop for the night. After some searching we found a nice spot to pitch the tent in a stand of pine trees.

As we finally settled in to write and process photos we were tickled to see that Neil had contacted us. We met him on the trail in Newfoundland last year, doing a 'Walk for Samantha' to raise awareness of PTSD. We were thrilled to meet another cross-country hiker, and happy to hear is now in this region and doing well, although currently off-trail.

As we try to fall asleep we can hear the steady and unrelenting roar of Highway 7 in the distance. Closer by we can hear a White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Song Sparrow singing. There are frogs calling in the nearby marsh.

It is now dark, and something large and clumsy is crashing around behind the tent. We can also hear either a wolf or a coyote giving deep, long, loud, haunting calls very close by. It seems we've found another wildlife corridor in which to try to sleep. After two long days, this is not the luck we were hoping for.

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