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Posts Tagged ‘Tallow Rock Bay trail’

hike1

After we enjoyed our lunch looking out over the bay, we rejoined the trail, which climbs up the cliff edging the bay. After following the bay shoreline for a short distance, the trail curves inland and circumvents a beaver pond.

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We soon realized that we had been lulled into a false expectation by the first 4 kilometres of the trail, which are pretty easy hiking. After leaving the 4 KM marker behind however, the trail becomes much more challenging, with a lot of climbing and descending over rocky and rooted surfaces. We followed directions in a trail guide when setting out on the west arm of the loop first and this was terrible advice. It would be much better to do the difficult section first, while you’re fresh, and enjoy an easy walk back to the trailhead.

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We were looking forward to the reward of a nice view from the lookout, but it was disappointing. Perhaps when the leaves drop from the trees the view is better, but we only got a distant glimpse of Charleston Lake.

Here’s RailGuy at the top of a rocky pass.

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And climbing up through another rocky pass.

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The vegetation included assorted ferns and woodland plants, and some interesting green clumps with long, narrow leaves. They were very attractive and I wondered what they are. Seabrooke posted an inquiry for me and they were identified as Plantain-leaved Sedge (Carex plantaginea), not what I think of as sedge at all. They are a native woodland broad-leaved sedge that flowers in spring.

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At the 7 KM marker, the floating bridge could be spotted through the trees. The bridge crosses the mouth of Slim Bay. It’s fun to walk across as it rocks as you walk, though it has rods attaching it to large rocks to stabilize it.

bridge

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The water is fairly shallow. It looks to be about a metre deep and there is a dense growth of water plants along the length of the bridge. However, right in the centre of the plants there was a ring of open water, tinted a milky yellowish shade.

ring

Little fish were swimming within the circle, probably a Shiner (Notropis spp.)species.

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I was puzzled and intrigued by this phenomenon. It gave the impression of some secret underwater vault, a mermaid’s haunt maybe.

The Zebra Mussels, on the other hand, were no mystery. They coated the struts holding the bridge in place and could be seen in the shallow water covering the sandy bottom of the bay. Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are a very unfortunate introduction to the Great Lakes ecosystem, probably imported in the ballast water of ocean-going vessels traversing the St. Lawrence Seaway. Their negative impacts include the decimation of native mussel populations and they have been connected to botulism outbreaks that have killed many loons.

zebra

After leaving the bridge behind, we were soon climbing again. The trail follows the cliff edge of Slim Bay and offers some nice views of the water below.

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Finally, we arrived at the 9 KM Marker. Here is RailGuy, looking fresh as a daisy. After this marker, you soon rejoin the path to the trailhead and the final kilometre is an easy walk back to the parking lot.

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When it comes to hiking, the weather just doesn’t get any better than it was last weekend. On Sunday, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get out and enjoy what may be one of the last perfect days of the year. We decided to travel to Charleston Lake Provincial Park and because it was such a gorgeous day, settled on one of the more challenging trails.

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We set off along the 10 km Tallow Rock Bay trail. After a short walk from the trailhead, the path divides into west and east arms of the loop, and, based on my trail guide’s recommendation, we took the west fork. The woods soon gave way to a boardwalk through a wetland area. Most of the ground was pretty dry, as we’ve had an extended period of low precipitation, but a pretty stream runs through the clearing.

wetland

A few of the trees along the boardwalk had Fall Webworm (Hyphantria cunea) nests. These nests are often confused with the better-known tent caterpillar constructions, but tent caterpillars are mostly seen in spring. Tent caterpillars and Webworms are spring and fall phenomenon.

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The tree has time to recover after the spring Tent Caterpillars and grow new leaves. In the case of Fall Webworms, the tree is about to lose its leaves for the winter anyway, and can grow again in the spring. Thus, the insects don’t kill their host tree. For more on Webworms visit Jeepers! Creepers! here.

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The trail has helpful distance markers. Here is RailGuy standing by the 1 KM marker shortly after leaving the boardwalk behind and re-entering the forest.

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This tree is reportedly one of the oldest trees in the forest. Sadly, it seems to be dying and had already lost its leaves for the year, making its fork-tine branches more conspicuous.

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The rustling of the dried leaves littering the ground brought this garter snake to our attention.

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The first few kilometres of the trail are undemanding, following the gently undulating landscape up and down with few steep inclines. Rocky outcroppings bordering the trail remind you that you are on the Frontenac Arch, part of the Canadian shield. You can read more about the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve here.

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Many of the rocks support a rich mosaic of lichens and mosses and ferns.

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The bright cerise-red centre of this plant caught my eye. I didn’t recognise it, but Seabrooke was able to identify it for me as Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana). It has already lost the blue berries it would have had earlier in the season. The berries are inedible (by people), but the waxy, tuberous roots, as the common name indicates, taste like cucumber and can be used in salads.

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At one point, the trail curls around the edge of an open wet meadow, encircled with white birch trees.

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Just after the 4 KM marker, a short side trail leads down to the waters of Tallow Rock Bay.

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What a beautiful, peaceful spot! The water was still and quiet and a picnic table was welcomingly positioned on the little beach. We sat down and had a pleasant rest, eating the lunch RailGuy had kindly backpacked in for us.

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