I always like those last minute spur of the moment, let’s just do it decisions to go somewhere – especially when they work out well. Having said that I’ve also wished I’d thought some choices through a bit better but that’s certainly not the case here.
The last minute decision was to schedule a Stewardship walk on the Couchiching Conservancy’s Wolf Run Alvar property located on Lake Dalrymple Rd about a km north of Alvar Rd on Wolf Run Lane. As a Carden Field Naturalist (CFN) member, I’ve been a Stewardship leader for the Couchiching Conservancy for a number of years doing quarterly walks and reporting on what was seen in regards to flora, fauna and people usage. Sometimes it’s just me or a couple of people but this time everything clicked and voila we have a party of 12 people on a last minute call.
One of the best things about these types of walks is the interaction, conversations and knowledge shared while taking a stroll on the alvar landscape. This walk had experts from just about every field imaginable including medicine, botany, Carden property expertise, geology, history, horticulture, photography, journalism and of course bird identification and phishing expertise.
One of my favourite places is the road allowance from the Wolf Run Lane parking lot to the northwest corner of Wolf Run, although this section is not on Conservancy property. Before I say any more please be warned – Wolf Run Lane requires a very slow drive in to avoid the potholes on an extremely rough road. A vehicle with higher clearances is advisable and even then go slow to avoid bottoming out on the protruding bedrock. If it’s all about the journey, then Wolf Run is one of the most interesting properties in Carden.
So after a quick review of where we were and what the basic route would be I was promised by our botanist in the group, I’ll call her Anne for now, that we would “put on the blinders” for the road allowance walk in. That’s become it goes through a gorgeous deciduous forest along a farmers trail with flora on either side begging you to stop and take a look to investigate nature’s wonders. This being a May walk, we also heard warblers, vireos, towhees, grosbeaks, ovenbird, flickers, chickadees, great crested flycatcher, jays and robins to name a few. (The above critters being identified by everyone but me).
So normally it’s a lovely 10 to 15 minute stroll breathing all this nature in, except this time it took well over an hour to finally make it to the corner of the Wolf Run property boundary. It might have been the birds. It might have been the red and white trilliums, the two-leaved toothwort or the Sprengel’s sedge, maybe common motherwort, red elderberry or perhaps the purple false melic. What about the northern maidenhair fern or rattlesnake fern you say? Ah but for me it was the Viola canadensis Linnaeus aka Canada violet. Anyway, so much for putting the blinders on Anne but thanks for trying to teach me all those names. The Long Walk In of 2016 was something to treasure. I can almost smell the earthy humus as we knelt down to inspect, listen and breathe in wonder.
If you are interested in guided tour anytime give me a call and we’ll plan a CFN Stewardship Walk that meets your schedule sometime. If you’ve ever wondered what a gryke is, then you need to see Wolf Run Alvar for Grykis giganticus alvarium (my version of the proper Latin term). Not on everyone’s bucket list, but it should be.
Tom Wilson is a volunteer with The Couchiching Conservancy.