Fol­low the Leader

En­joy­ing an in­vig­o­rat­ing Easter Sun­day hike in Fron­tenac Park

Our Canada - - News - by Daphne Christie, Kingston, Ont.

An ad­ven­tur­ous cou­ple heads out on Easter Sun­day to en­joy a na­ture hike through Fron­tenac Park.

Head­ing to nearby Fron­tenac Park— one of our favourite spots—my life part­ner Michael and I be­gin our hike. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on this Easter Sun­day, we travel on foot. No snow­shoes, no skis. It is spring and the ice on the ponds and lakes is still very thick in most places, but is melt­ing close to the shore­line, where the sun has warmed the now­ex­posed rocks and earth. The streams and rivulets are rush­ing full force down­hill to­wards the ponds and lakes, flood­ing across the sur­face be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing un­der the ice.

The wind is cold but the grow­ing strength of the April sun warms us through our jack­ets and makes us sleepy when we stop for lunch in a shel­tered spot on the edge of a pond.

Michael, as usual, acts as my guide on this hike. He has been ex­plor­ing Fron­tenac Park for more than 30 years now, and knows every pond, lake and ridge for

miles in the south­east sec­tion of the park.

He knows what the ice is like at this time of year, and makes sure I stay a good distance be­hind him as we cross ponds and skirt beaver dams. He care­fully tests the in­tegrity of the ice sur­face, some­times turn­ing back and choos­ing an­other spot, per­haps only a few feet away from his first at­tempt where it felt spongy.

We scam­per out from the edges to the cen­tre, where the ice, still many inches thick, al­lows us to walk con­fi­dently and easily to the next land bridge con­nect­ing the ponds.

Step­ping from frozen wa­ter to snow-free dry land is one of the most won­der­ful feel­ings at this time of year. In one spot, we step off the ice onto a sunny, grassy hill­side dot­ted with tiny, criss­cross­ing path­ways. There is ev­i­dence of a tiny me­trop­o­lis of win­ter­ing voles or mice that en­gi­neered ways to bur­row un­der the deep blan­kets of the re­cently departed snow.

A lit­tle far­ther on, we round a cor­ner and star­tle four white­tailed deer. We stand and watch as they bounded off, ef­fort­lessly with their tails high in the air, sig­nalling the dan­ger alert.

On the crest of a hill above an­other pond, we pause to scan the open wa­ter be­low and spot a pair of hooded mer­gansers and a pair of Canada geese.

Down on the ice a few min­utes later, we see ev­i­dence of ot­ter an­tics: tell­tale tracks of them run­ning and glid­ing. I think I would like to be rein­car­nated as an ot­ter. All win­ter long, we see their tracks through­out the park. Long, wind­ing trails and slides where they have been hav­ing fun to­bog­gan­ing down hills be­tween ponds and across the flats on their way to the next hill.

Over­head, turkey vul­tures soar on the wind. They are hav­ing fun, too, but I would still rather be an ot­ter!

Even­tu­ally, we com­plete our Easter Sun­day tour, stop­ping mid- lake to turn our faces to­wards the slowly set­ting sun and into the strong west wind. Eyes closed, we breathe deeply. The next time we ven­ture forth, the ice will be gone and a few weeks af­ter that, we will be swim­ming where we stood to­day. n

Daphne says she and Michael love spend­ing time in this park—es­pe­cially from Septem­ber to May when there are no bugs!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.