People put the darnedest things on their docks. I hope he’s just holding the broken end of a fishing rod and not, uh, well, um, whatever it is that boys do when they pack up their satchels to spend a solitary afternoon by the river…
It’s been a couple of months since we’ve seen our local muscovy duck in East Dodgeville, but he returned this week with a new companion. Emboldened by numbers, they proceeded to chase me around the yard:
They’re more or less fearless of people and given the way that they ran after me, they obviously thought that some tasty food was going to pop out of my camera. If I needed evidence that they’re farm escapees, that would be it. They settled for munching on a patch of garden instead.
They’re both about the same size so I can’t tell if they’re a male/female pair or just a couple of dudes out for an adventure. Either way, I’m pretty sure that the one on the right in the pictures is the same one that first visited us in the spring. I’m glad that he has a fellow fugitive to hang out with now. With luck, instinct will kick in soon and they’ll start heading south.
After our thoroughly enjoyable trip on the Peterborough to Omemee rail trail a few weeks ago, I decided to take a trip down a second Peterborough-area rail trail this weekend, heading east out of town this time. Risa was unable to join me for the ride, so I packed up my day-trip kit and did this one solo.
The Peterborough to Hastings rail trail is not yet part of the Trans Canada Trail, but is listed as a proposed addition and there is some work afoot to make it official (PDF) and make improvements where necessary. As it stands now, the trail is formally maintained only in winter as a snowmobile trail, leaving summer maintenance to volunteers acting on an ad hoc basis with no coordinating body.
Compared to the Peterborough to Omemee trail, the lack of coordination shows: the route to Hastings is a little more wild and a bit more of a challenging ride. Unlike the smooth wide bed of gravel dust on the Omemee trail, the ride to Hastings is mostly on dirt double-track with some large gravel, loose sand, and other trail hazards along the way. Some of the bridges seemed to be in rough shape, with some surface planks rotting away and exposing holes big enough to see through to the rivers below. The trail is probably smooth as butter when it’s covered with a couple of feet of hard packed snow but it can be a little jarring on a bike in the summer. It’s certainly in good enough condition and offers enough variation for an average cyclist to have an enjoyable trip, but you won’t find any beach cruisers on it. Front suspension on my mountain bike was most welcome by the halfway mark.
The trail was exceptionally quiet considering that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon for cycling or hiking. The first 90 minutes of my two hour putter along the trail were blissfully solo, without another soul in sight at any time, even when crossing intersections. The last half hour was almost as quiet and I only encountered four people on the trail before I turned onto the streets of Hastings. I imagine that it’s not quite as tranquil when the snowmobiles hit the trail, but it’s a very relaxing summer day trip.
The trail ends somewhat unceremoniously in the middle of the Trent River in Hastings (see the gallery below for more information about that), but you can make connections from there to other trails that continue to Campbellford, Tweed, and Sharbot Lake. Traversing gaps to yet more trails that can get you as far as Bancroft or within hailing distance of Bon Echo Provincial Park.
The Peterborough to Hastings rail trail starts approximately 7 km southeast of downtown Peterborough at Keene Road and runs about 29 km to Hastings. Like most rail trails, it’s fairly flat and grades are slight enough that they won’t trouble even the most casual of cyclists. The scenery ranges from wide-open farmers’ fields to thick forest growth and includes views of numerous rivers, creeks, marshes, swamps, cows, and even a couple of trailer parks heading into Hastings. Intersections are mostly quiet dirt roads. There are no obvious supply facilities or rest stops along the way other than farmhouses that back onto the trail; the village of Keene is about 2 km south of the trail at the 9 km mark, but that’s about it. Be sure to pack a repair kit and adequate food and water.
Check out the gallery after the jump for the usual ride pictures and commentary.
Here’s something you don’t see on your southern Ontario lawn every day: a muscovy duck. Wild muscovies are normally found in Central and South America but they’re domesticated throughout North America. The muscovy is bigger than the Canada geese that normally hang around East Dodgeville at this time of year. It appeared to be a solitary male with no mate in sight so my money is on it being an escapee from a nearby farm. The muscovy wandered around the lawn for a few minutes, coming up to within 20 feet of the house before waddling back down to the lake and paddling over to a couple of Canada goose families who were swimming nearby. They didn’t much appreciate his efforts to socialize and chased him away.
There really wasn’t much of a winter this year but there were a few opportunities to get out and take pictures of scenes that weren’t relentlessly brown. Here’s a gallery containing a few of the things I saw this winter that didn’t quite make it into posts of their own for one reason or another.
Seeing a large ice crystal like this, about an inch long, is fairly rare. Now imagine seeing thousands upon thousands of them:
We’re spending a few post-Christmas days at the cottage and awoke to a visual treat on Thursday: Wednesday’s sudden deep freeze and blowing wind gave us a large field of feather ice growing on the lake. The lake began the day on Monday as completely open water; Tuesday brought some long ribbons of ice along the wind lines; by Wednesday only a few open spots were left, and by Thursday morning it was completely frozen over. I don’t know much about the formation of feather ice, but I’m guessing that the low temperatures combined with the wind blowing over the remaining patches of open water on Wednesday picked up enough moisture to cause this field to form near our shoreline. It’s at least a hectare in size.
I would have spent much more time taking pictures, but lying down on a frozen lake while manipulating an SLR on a tripod at ground level isn’t exactly the most comfortable position I’ve ever been in. Check out the gallery below the fold for a couple of additional pictures I managed to take before my pants froze to the lake.
Following a decades-old dream, Dodgeville expanded to the northeast last week, annexing a plot of land on the north shore of Rice Lake to be used by all Dodgeville residents for year-round recreational purposes. Risa and I just spent our first (cold!) weekend there, unpacking and fixing and getting things into order.
With a door-to-door non-highway route totalling just 110 km, it’s well within my single-day cycling range, even pulling a loaded trailer. That said, I’d be travelling with both wife and cat, neither of whom is likely to appreciate such a long ride, so we’ll be sticking to the car for now.
Of course, there are differences between this cottage and the old family cottage from my youth: TV, phone, high-speed Internet, running water, and an indoor bathroom chief among them. We’re looking forward to visiting the local towns, exploring the local backroads, hiking the local trails (both the Ganaraska and Oak Ridges trails pass nearby), and just generally relaxing.