Off trail – Irishtown area

by admin on April 23, 2011

After having spent time traveling this past week it was good to be home. I declined the offer to go out for breakfast and savoured time at home in my workshop sipping coffee – good, strong, homemade stuff.

By mid-afternoon I had the urge to get out though and move a bit on this good Friday. Of the four day weekend that lays ahead, today looked promising with sun in the forecast and 9ºC highs. I had contemplated heading to the beach this morning but it was just too nice to be home, to be gone for big portion of the day.

I headed north, up the mountain behind my house by truck. I was looking around for some hill training routes that I can use in the future. I developed some ideas but headed along the mountain towards Irishtown. The mountain is broadly defined or rather loosely defined; it is really a big hill but Moncton does have Mountain Road crossing it and headed to this big hill that overlooks the Petitcodiac River Valley. 

Those who read this blog regularly will know that Irishtown Park is a frequent destination. It is a great natural park based within the city limits. So I headed to a different portion. I parked at Tankville school and headed out on the blue trail. The only folks I met during the walk advised me that most of the trail was flooded, only the blue loop was open. I followed this and was surprised to still see so much snow. This continues to be a slow spring; when I awoke this morning the ground was covered with a fine snow. You have to take it as it comes though and not let this get you down. The sun was warm on the face and you have to like that.

At the tip of the loop I was curious and decided to head off trail towards the airfield. What I found as I exited the forest was field that had been cut in some areas and matted down by the heavy snow in others. I headed along the edge of it, which runs along parallel to a long narrow wet land. There was evidently no flights today. I climbed to the top of low grassy hill where I could survey the area.

What I saw was this long wetland area that started with a swamp and ended in a small lake or pond. In the distance was the old resevoir that now forms the lake in Irishtown Park. I have often canoed this lake but I had not been this far around. Immediately I could see quite a few ducks flying around and taking advantage of this wetland.  As I followed the wetland down towards the lake it was obvious this was a productive area. I came across a number of Canada geese and more ducks as well as some large shore birds.

The walk was pretty easy going but it was definitely a day for boots as the ground was very wet and muddy in spots.  As I walked along the field I went through a number of wet spots, which made it a little slower going. All this is to be expected as there is a snow melt still underway.

The airstrip is higher then the wet lands so ones gets a good view of them as you head down towards the lake. What a difference 24 hours makes. Yesterday I was standing in downtown Toronto in one of the most urban settings in Canada. Today to my left I was enjoying a picturesque wetland scene full of waterfowl and a beaver lodge.

The wetland pours into an underground waterway, which runs under the airstrip and the re-forms into a creek, which empties into the lake. In the distance I saw this rather large brown animal and noticed it moving. I initially thought is was a beaver but it was a fair way from water on land. It turned out to be a rather well fed porcupine. I was able to get a good look at the porcupine but unfortunately I had neglected to bring the camera. I was running out of time and would have liked to explore more along that end of the lake. I will leave that for another time.

 I had not planned on doing this walk in this area but the inspiration came to me as I could see the meadow on the edge of the forest.  Wetlands  are an important part of a well functioning ecosystem and they are a pleasure to observe this time of year as well. I felt quite lucky to have been able to take all this in so close to home. I returned to the trail and headed back to the lot. On the trail I startled a pheasant in the forest and came across a large pilated woodpecker. It was a simple but interesting hike and a nice contrast to Toronto.

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