Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter Wonderland on Bayview Escarpment

Enjoyed what turned out to be a spectacular snowshoe walk on the Bayview Escarpment west of Meaford today.  With the temperature hovering near zero, two or three inches of wet sticky snow fell last night, and it stuck to everything, so every tree trunk and twig was partly coated in white, creating a beautiful winter wonderland. We headed across a field or two, then up the steep hill into a beautiful deciduous woods on top of the escarpment.  

Following an old woods road for quite a distance north, we headed through a beautiful sugar maple forest.  I could hardly stop taking pictures.  Then, much to my surprise we came to the southern boundary of the Bayview Escarpment Nature Reserve, and the Bruce Trail.  As we joined the white blazes, the trail angled out toward the edge of the cliff.  Already this was the nicest walk I have had all winter.  And the snowshoeing was easy, in fairly dense packing snow.

Then, to top it off we came out to the edge of the cliff and a series of spectacular views through the trees out toward Georgian Bay.  Just little windows between the cedar trees that lined the cliff edge, these views (below) look east across the towns of Meaford and Thornbury to Blue Mountain, the significant but hazy hill on the right in the far distance. Beyond that you can faintly see the far side of Nottawassaga Bay at Wasaga Beach - nearly 25 miles away. And looking over the edge of the cliff you could see a deep straight drop down the limestone bluff into the forest below.

This had quickly turned into one of the most spectacular winter snowshoe walks I've ever enjoyed.  After a time along the cliff edge we came to a very convenient break in the cliff, down a wide crevice, and then down a slanting trail right beside the vertical face of the limestone, making a very easy descent from the escarpment.  This is definitely a place to go back and explore again!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter Views Around the Valley

As I try to capture the landscape around the Beaver Valley with my lens, I've discovered that it's not at all that easy to get a photo that really portrays this countryside well.  The human eye sees small pieces of the whole picture, and can zoom in on a particularly attractive part of the view, but the camera isn't as flexible.  I've also discovered that it makes a big difference to get your pictures on a sunny day in the winter, of which there are few!  Here are 3 favourite views I've captured this winter, which I think do make good pictures.

The first is a view across open fields taken on the 4th Sideroad, with the old cedar rail fence and a maple tree along the edge of the road in the foreground.  I think the depth in this photo as well as the framing and lighting make it good.

This is a barn south of Walter's Falls, like many of the older barns, no longer part of an active farm with a house, and not being used in the winter except perhaps for storing hay.  Again, the lighting, the wide open white field in front, and the barn itself make this a nice view.

The last is a barn in the valley, on the north side of Bowle's Hill, looking north along the cliffs that mark the east side of the escarpment - the further cliff is Old Baldy, rising above the village of Kimberley.  The barn itself adds a lot to the picture, and again I think is not being actively used - though the doors have recently been repainted!

Monday, February 25, 2013

BT Ski at Glenelg

Bruce Trail Club outing to the Glenelg cross-country ski trails last week was a beautiful day - sunny and just perfect snow conditions, and good company.  Enjoyed a great ski past the pond, around the main trail loops, and then off to the western corner to an area known as the cathedral.  When you get these sunny days with the right temperature and the right snow conditions, it's a rare winter gift; there are probably only 5 or 6 days like this all winter.

The Pond

The Cathedral Trail

Sentinel along the trail.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Skiing near Wiarton

Enjoyed a great ski on the Bruce Ski Club trails at Colpoy's Bay the other day, quite cold, but sunny and the trails were in great condition.  These cross- country trails run east from Co. Rd. 9, just northeast of Wiarton, through forest and field on the north shore of Colpoy's Bay.  Unfortunately not close enough to the cliff edge to provide views of the bay - one of the nicest views in the Peninsula if you're there on a sunny day in June!

The track-setter was out as we skiid, and we were certainly the first group down the trails.  Snow covered everything once you were in the woods, and the trails had just a few gentle ups and downs, so it was pretty easy-going skiing.  An invigorating outing for about 2 hours, then lunch at a great coffee shop/art gallery on the main street of Wiarton.  Great way to spend a cold winter's day!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Great Skiing

It seems I've been too busy enjoying winter to post much here; in between the thaws, it's been a great few weeks of real winter.  Lots of snow, and temperatures staying below zero.  Among other things I've been out to Glenelg Nordic skiing a few times.  One of my favourite trails is down through the swamps, and on this ski the trees were all covered with fresh powder snow, making both for great skiing conditions, and nice pictures.

The trails had been track set, but I think I was the first person through on them, sailing along through my own private winter wonderland.  There are streams to cross, a few gentle hills (and one long one), bits of open meadow, and a pine plantation, but almost all these trails are in the forest, keeping the cold wind to a minimum.

Getting the lighting right is the most difficult thing in the winter.  I just had my 'point and shoot' with me this day, so these pix seem a little dark compared to what it was really like - but then with my other camera, the winter pictures often seem too bright.  But the memories of a winter well spent are great in any case!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bald Eagle Again!

OK, this picture is a trifle blurred, but you can certainly see that it's a Bald Eagle, perched in a large elm tree overlooking the fields.  It was a beautiful winter's day this morning; the sun was out and the sky blue when I headed to Walter's Falls to meet some friends for breakfast (great place for breakfast by the way).  It looked so nice out I took my camera with me just in case, and did get a few pictures along the way.  Driving back I stopped just to get a view across an open field.  But when I zoomed in a little on the elm tree on the horizon, I thought I saw a large bird - so I zoomed in further, and was convinced it was an eagle.  Only when I got home though, and cropped the picture down to a small area in the centre could I really see the white head and be sure.  So here it is!

Take a look at this series of 3 pictures below, and you'll see what I saw, starting with a wide open view of the field, and then zooming in.  Comparing the cropped image above to the first photo below will also explain why it's a little blurred - it was a long way away! The location was actually quite close to where I saw a Bald Eagle with other friends in mid January, though that time I had no chance for a picture.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Snow in the Woods

Missed snowshoeing for a week or so, with so many other winter events on, but got back in the woods today and yesterday.  We had more than a foot of snow, and got another 4" of light powdery fluff today.  Both days was a hard slog breaking trail through fresh snow, but the woods was beautiful, especially the interior where the air is still and snow sits on every branch.

It just looks like a totally white world looking around you in all directions.  Snow stuck to the tree trunks, clumped on the tiny twigs, and resting along all the branches.  Yesterday there were plenty of tracks - deer, rabbit, and probably fox, but today with the fresh snow there were no tracks at all.  Just peaceful white forest.  Winter at the moment seems to be a taste of real winter as I like it and remember it - deep snow, high snowbanks, endless more white flakes coming down as the streamers off the lake pass over us.

At the moment it's great conditions for all the winter sports - downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and I'm sure snowmobiling too.  The snowblower is certainly paying for itself this winter.   Here's hoping it stays this way for about another month!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beautiful Day in the Valley

One of those rare sunny winter days with fresh snow, and the temperature not too cold - though it was well below zero.  Got out to take a few pictures of the valley in the winter sun.  Below is the view from the top of the abandondoned ski club at Talisman - the local community is hoping it will soon be sold to someone who will at least do something useful with it, if not revive it.  This view looks straight east across the 7th Sideroad.

A close look at the east side of the valley, below, shows the perfectly flat Manitoulin formation, a layer of limestone in the middle of the escarpment slope - the huge cliffs of Old Baldy are off to the right of this picture, and above the Manitoulin rock layer.  It's about 1/3 of the way down the picture, with several chalets sitting along the brim of the short cliff.

Later got out for a great ski on some trails up near Meaford.  A perfect winter day that just couldn't be spent inside!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Ephemeral Lower Wodehouse Creek Waterfalls!

The ephemeral Lower Wodehouse Creek Waterfalls was flowing the other day during the 2nd January thaw!      I've only seen it once or twice before, because it only flows when the Wodehouse Karst is full and overflowing into the lower creek valley.  So it only flows for perhaps 2-3 days during winter thaws or the spring melt in March.

This picture is taken from above, looking straight down.  The falls is found at the Beaver Valley Ski Club, where the creek, almost always just a dry creek bed, flows under the road leading into the upper parking lot.  And I've never found a safe way to get to the bottom of the cliff, 2/3 of the way up the Avalanche ski slope, in the winter, so this is the only picture I could get.

Wodehouse Creek arises in a huge spring a few miles to the northwest, and flows south rather than out to the edge of the escarpment, because it's in the valley created by the Gibraltar Moraine.  It enters a large sinkhole just off the 7th Line south of the hamlet of Wodehouse, where it disappears underground - almost all the time.  But only so much water can get down the sinkhole so when the flow is high, it backs up and starts forming a lake.  And if the lake gets high enough, it overflows the higher land and flows south into the lower creek valley, otherwise only occupied by a small stream the rest of the year.

There are several sinkholes, including one just upstream of the waterfalls, and there are also several springs spread out along several miles of the cliff, where the water finds a way out horizontally from the sinkholes.  Most of the year there is only a dry creek bed at the bottom end of this creek.  But in those rare times of winter thaws and high flows, suddenly, for a few days, there's a raging creek, and a thundering waterfalls.

Someday I'll tell you the whole complicated story.