Monday, July 12, 2010

LSPP Crescent Lake Trail

After over five hours in the car and setting up camp it was starting to get a little late to do much in the way of hiking. However, after five hours in the car, neither one of us wanted to sit in a kayak. We were happy to see that there was a short trail off the campground road and decided to stretch our legs. The sun had begun to peek out and it was a pleasant evening so an easy walk seemed like just what we needed.

One of the things that surprised me about this park is there were no trail maps available. Each trail head had a sign with a map and description (in English and French) but I guess they figured you could memorize the trail map. I for one like to have a map handy as I like to know where I am and what I'm looking at. I don't feel like the journey is any more adventurous without a map!

There are a lot of lakes in this park and there are many canoe routes between them. Crescent Lake (bottom right on this map) is part of a canoe trail that includes portages to MacGregor Lake (top), Kenny Lake (left) and Mudhole Lake (middle). We had talked about the possibility of doing this water loop but we never got around to it. The Crescent Lake hiking trail crossed several of these portages.

Right off the bat we found the portage from Crescent lake to Mudhole Lake and saw this beaver track. Remember, this was before we saw any beaver, and I was excited to see more sign of them. I forgot to mention last post that I had only seen a beaver once before, at a great distance in the Seney Nat'l Wildlife Refuge in Michigan, so I was eager to see some on this trip.

More sign of beaver. They take down trees of this size in order to get at the branches, which they strip to eat the inner bark.

We followed the portage over to Mudhole Lake and found a beaver lodge on the far side.

This little plant was everywhere, and I could not for the life of me remember what it was while we were there. But just the other day I was reading a book about an island in the Puget Sound and the author was writing about wood sorrel. Ah ha!

Following the trail we came to MacGregor Lake. I was surprised to see how rugged this country is. Apparently this whole area, from northwestern Wisconsin on up through Ontario, was once a mountain range, way way back, and these are the remnants of them. From what I recall there was once a lot of volcanic activity here and the mountain ranges were created much like the ring of mountains and islands we see in the Pacific today, from Indonesia through Japan and up to Alaska.

There were a great number of yellow-bellied sapsuckers in this area. Signs of them were everywhere, including on this downed tree trunk. While downy and hairy woodpeckers make rows of horizontal holes, and pileated make huge oblong-shaped excavations, the sapsucker makes its holes vertically (remember, this log is laying on the ground).

I finally caught sight of a sapsucker on a snag and managed to get a few decent shots. I may do a drawing of this bird and add it to my woodpecker series!

By the time we'd gotten round to Kenny Lake it was really starting to brighten up. I can't get enough of the spruce/cedar/birch forests that line these lakes. All the shapes and contrasts are a treat for the eye!

The woods along the trail were a nice mix of young birch and poplar and some huge yellow birch. The birds were singing their evening songs as the sun turn the tree canopy to gold. It was a splendid evening indeed.

Next: Morning on Crescent Lake

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