Photos and text by Betty Michalowski
SUNDAY! SUNSHINE! SNOWSHOES! SMILES!
What a combination for a first day of March field trip at Fitzroy Provincial Park, where 19 eager souls strapped on snowshoes and took to the trails. Our guide and hostess for the outing was our own vice-president, Karen Krueger. Karen calls the park her backyard and what a backyard it is!
Our group started out from the parking lot at the end of Kedey St. in Fitzroy Harbour. We followed the trail above the Carp River, across the bridge and joined the trail on the river’s north side. Located here is a feeder where we had sightings of Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Trees with Pileated Woodpecker holes were also spotted.
Further along the trail Musclewood or Blue Beech or Ironwood (not American Hop Hornbeam) Carpinus caroliniana was pointed out to us by club member Janet Mason. Other trees worth noting in the park are the majestic centuries-old White Pines that cover much of the park and a stand of 300-year-old Bur Oaks along the Carp River.
Moving along we found ourselves at the top of a hill. Karen stopped the group so we could take in the view: behind us the Ottawa River and Chats Falls Dam, below us a clearing that beavers had occupied. Karen can share more details about this spot—it is a story about man vs. beaver and the effect it had on the landscape.
Some of us had expressed that the wildlife seemed a bit sparse—19 chatty people with noisy snowshoes may have had something to do with that! But nature did not let us down. On cue we heard a Pileated Woodpecker calling. We located its location and then off in the opposite direction a second Pileated Woodpecker called.
With our breathing back to normal (ha!!) we continued on. Our next stop was the shale terraces and pillars that “revealed a glacial past and the actions of a mighty water way.”We had to climb these to get back, so we sent Katie and Andrea (the 20-somethings in the group) up first. The rest of us followed and with the help of new friends all made it. Down past the waterfalls, frozen at this time of year, we hiked and started the return trip.
Let’s do it again next year!