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Posts Tagged ‘Rock Dunder’

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We have hiked out to the Rock Dunder lookout several times and promised ourselves to get back in the autumn to view the fall colours from this spectacular platform. A combination of bad weather and competing events postponed our return visit until this weekend. With the autumn leaves now rapidly giving way to the forces of rain and wind, we made a hike a priority and revisited the Rock Dunder trail last Friday.

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It was interesting to visit the rocky woodland in a different season. The reindeer lichen (Cladina rangiferina), which was shrivelled and dried up in the summer, is now springing back to life in brilliant silver patches.

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With less vegetation attracting attention, the trees themselves were more conspicuous. I hadn’t noticed this Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) on previous hikes.

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The green fronds of Rock Polypody ferns (Polypodium virginianam) brighten rocky surfaces.

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Patches of Pale Corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens), also known as Rock Harlequin, were growing amongst the lichens and mosses. This dainty looking plant is actually very tough. It produces pretty, tubular pink and yellow flowers held on long stems across the summer.

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The effects of our hot, dry summer could be read in the number of dried out oak seedlings and brown juniper shrubs along the trail. Those junipers that survived the summer were now thriving after recent rains.

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I noticed this patch of silk in a half-curled leaf on the trail. It’s probably a hiding place constructed by a spider.

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Finally, we reached our destination, the Rock Dunder lookout, and were rewarded with a beautiful view. It was a cool day, so cool that we spotted a few snow flakes, and the open rock surface was windy, but we stopped long enough for a quick lunch and a hot cup of coffee. Here are a few photos taken from the lookout. Rock Dunder looks out over the northeast arm of Whitefish Lake, north of Gananoque, Ontario.

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On Saturday, the weather was beautiful, bright and sunny, and RailGuy and I decided it was a good opportunity to try out the Rock Dunder trail. The trail is located near the little hamlet of Morton, north of Gananoque, in the Frontenac Arch region.

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We chose to do the 3.9 km Summit Loop. The trail is well-marked and neatly maintained, but is moderately demanding because it follows the contours of the landscape up and down…and up…and down…and up…and down! You set off uphill right from the parking lot, above.

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The trail leads through mature woodlands with maples, oaks and eastern pines. It was very peaceful. In spite of the fine weather, there weren’t many people out on the trail.

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A sign at the trailhead warns hikers not to approach or feed any black bears they might encounter. We laughed. Who would be crazy enough to approach a black bear? But I guess there are people with no better sense out there. The biggest mammal that we encountered, outside of other people, was this cute chipmunk. We didn’t approach or feed him.

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The trail passed through clearings that feature bare rock and reindeer lichen, giving the area a distinctly rugged, northern feel. The Frontenac Arch is an ancient granite ridge that runs through south-eastern Ontario and links the Canadian Shield to the north and the Adirondack Mountains to the south. The Arch region offers an entirely different landscape than the flatter farmlands in most of southern Ontario.

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This tree had been well worked by both Pileated Woodpeckers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. The big Pileateds are responsible for the large excavations, while the sapsuckers drilled the rows of little holes.

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This beaver meadow overlook has a conveniently located bench that we were happy to rest on for a few minutes. Then we followed the trail down to water level as it continues in a loop around the wetland and climbs back uphill on the other side.

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Then the trail began to open up as we approached the Rock Dunder lookout. At first, we could see forest stretching away and then as we reached the edge of the lookout, we could see lakes set out below us. What a panoramic view!

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We took turns photographing each other in front of the scenery and watched the numerous boats on the water below for a bit.

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Then we rested our backs against a well-situated rock wall where we could admire the view and eat the lunch that RailGuy backpacked in for us.

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After a pleasant intermission, we continued with our hike. The lookout is more or less half way around the loop, and the trail continues along the shore line, climbing down to water level and back up again. There was far more activity on the water than on the trail, with motorboats and canoes coming and going. We pause to watch a group of young people jumping into the water from the cliff face.

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The trail returns to the brow of the cliff where another bench offers a spot to take in the view of the north end of the lake.

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A lone loon was diving and resurfacing, avoiding the motor traffic on the lake. One of several cabins that can be used for resting or emergency shelter marks the spot where the trail turns back inland towards the parking lot. From this point, it is an easy walk back to the trailhead. This was a very rewarding hike, with a fabulous view making the ups and downs worthwhile. We plan to return in the autumn to see the fall colours. It should be spectacular.

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