7 THINGS TO EXPLORE ON YOUR HIKE.

Nature is a great teacher. Not only does it hold a wealth of information, it is very patient, allowing each of us the time needed to learn and understand.


It's essential we understand what the forests, wetlands and waterways have to teach us. How we interact with nature in turn has an enormous impact on the quality of life in our area, on our planet and most importantly on our Earth.



“If you learn about nature only from books, when you go outside you will not find her.” - Jean Agassiz


Protect the animals, plants and natural features of this area. Enjoy them and learn about them, but please do not harm or remove them.


1. Trees


You can find these species:

  • jack pine, with it's needles growing together in pairs.

  • black spruce, has needles with blunt tips.

  • tamarack, the only conifer which turns a deep, rich gold in autumn before dropping its needles.

  • aspen, with leaves that "tremble" in the wind.

  • white spruce, has needles that are 4-sided.


2. Water


You can find wetlands like bogs and fens in a forest and you'll also find animals. Animals like frogs who make their homes right in the wetlands. Others like foxes and mink often hunt along the edge of the wetlands that border the forest. The boardwalk crosses a fen, a type of wetland that contains a lot of peat. Wetlands absorb floodwaters, control erosion, replenish groundwater and purify surface water forests.


3. Soil


Most of us think of soil as a single substance, but it's a complex mix of components including clay, sand, silt and rock together with insects, fungi, decaying plant material and microorganisms that help in the process of decay. If you look to the right of the trail, you can see how soil builds up in layers over time, resulting in what's called a soil profile. Different plants like different types of soil; jack pine, for example, grows best in sandy soils.


4. Community


What does it take to topple a huge white spruce? Sometimes it can be something very small – like carpenter ants that weaken the spruce. Woodpeckers drilling for insects also make holes in the bark, increasing the tree's exposure to disease. In the forest community where species interact and depend on each other for survival. A seemingly negative impact on one species is counterbalanced by a positive effect on another. Can you spot some tree cavities (holes)?


5. Beauty


Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply. Listen. Immerse yourself in the forest. A walk in the forest is experience of restoration. The forest is indeed beautiful, but beauty doesn't necessarily mean perfection. An 80 year-old stand of trees with its share of blow-downs, rot and fungi is still quite beautiful because it supports a diverse, harmonious community of plants and animals, each with its own purpose and meaning. Can you spot the disc-shaped fungus on the aspen called "conks"?


6. Habitats


All kinds of animals leave traces of their passing through and they all count on the forest for their homes and food. If we do our part in maintaining many types and ages of forests, we will help ensure that these animals don't lose their homes. The wetlands are home to animals like frogs and birthing place to many insects. Can you spot some of these:

  • tadpoles

  • frogs

  • dragonflies

  • butterflies

  • cocoons

  • chewed spruce cones

  • bark beetle trails (underside of the bark)

  • tree cavities (holes in mature trees)

  • nibbled branches

  • nests

  • animal droppings (poop)


7. Provision


The forest has long been valued as a storehouse for food, shelter and medicines by the Cree peoples. Look for Labrador Tea with its fuzzy orange underside which, when boiled in water, yields a vitamin-rich brew. Moss from the forest floor make excellent insulation. Black spruce provides strong, sturdy poles for building shelters. As long as we only take what we need and plan for the future generations, the forest will continue to provide for us. What other forest provisions can you find?

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