Part 48: Concession Road 6 South to Silent Valley Side Trail
Date: 22 June 2020
Start: Concession Road 6 South at Massie Hills Management Area
End: Silent Valley Side Trail, Bognor Marsh
Distance Covered: 13.5 km
Total Distance Covered: 592.7 km
580. The first part of today’s hike includes 4 kms on road. There’s very little traffic except for a number of large trucks involved in coordinated movements to refresh the gravel surface. In a nod to Robert Frost and M. Scott Peck, Grey County’s tourism authority promotes its gravel roads as “The Roads Less Paved.”
581. The Bruce Trail’s User’s Code #4 states: “Leave the Trail cleaner than you found it. Carry out all litter.” The Code makes it clear enough what to do with one’s own litter, but does it imply that one should carry out other people’s too? If so, Mike and I would each need a large garbage bag to clean the shoulders of the “Less Paved” roads of Grey County.
Psychologists believe that people litter when they see litter already in place, and they are unlikely to litter in beautiful, pristine areas. I’m not so sure. Most of the off-road Bruce Trail is litter-free, but that’s because most Bruce hikers are environmentally conscious. But when the Trail is on roads, such as today, we see the sort of thing above too often. As these Grey County gravel roads carry very little through traffic, one can only assume that the litterers live locally and are consequently befouling their own nest.
The prime litter culprits in these parts are individuals who toss coffee cups out of car windows. But corporations who promote single-use products are also to blame. Tim Hortons have been identified as the second worst plastic polluters in Canada (Nestlé is worst). Timmy’s “iconic” coffee cups have a plastic lining and so cannot be effectively recycled: most end up in landfills where they take up to twenty years to degrade. (The plastic lids are an even more serious issue.) And a disturbing number of these cups lie by the side of quiet gravel roads in Grey County.
How to account for the littering mentality? It seems to me that litterers have never matured beyond the stage of the spoiled two-year-old who delights both in making a mess and in the certainty that someone else will clean it up.
582. A lone tree stands on a ridge to the north of Side Road 6.
583A & B. Two studies of the white admiral butterfly (Limenitis arthemis arthemis). This North American native is a close relative of the red-spotted purple butterfly, differing from it by the broad white band across the wings. Such butterflies seem ethereal creatures, but their behaviour belies their image. The male white admiral is extremely territorial and will aggressively fight off other males trespassing on an area frequented by “his” females. And while white admirals will daintily sip nectar from various flowers, they actually seem to prefer the fluids seeping from animal dung.
584. This fine stone building at the corner of Sideroad 6 and 4th Concession, now a private house, bears a small plaque that reads: Township of Sydenham, 1850-2000, 1875, Fifth Line School S.S. No. 11. According to Grey County School Board records, this public school operated until 1942, when rural depopulation presumably made it superfluous. The local roads have been renamed, as there is no Fifth Line in Sydenham Township now. In fact, there’s no Sydenham Township, as it was absorbed into the Municipality of Meaford from 2001.
585. Lupins! Almost certainly they have escaped from a local garden. To those of us of a certain age, lupins conjure memories of Monty Python highwayman Dennis Moore (played by John Cleese), who steals lupins from the rich to give to the poor, only to discover that the poor are sick of eating braised lupins in lupin sauce and would have preferred blankets, clothes, and firewood, or failing that, gold, silver, and jewels. “Dennis dum, Dennis dee, dum dum dum …”
586. We spot this bird, standing stock still in a driveway some distance away. Its short crest identifies it as a ruffed grouse. These are the birds that, in winter, hide under snow then explode from their cover when disturbed, giving cross-country skiers heart attacks. The males of this species make a distinctive drumming sound to attract females and warn off rivals. The ruffed grouse is a popular game bird, hunting being one of the factors which has led to a steep decline in its numbers. There is currently a Ruffed Grouse Society in Canada that aims to protect its woodland habitat, chiefly of course to ensure that there will be enough ruffed grouse to hunt in the future.
587. As we approach Bognor Marsh, the terrain is already paludal. We find this patch of pink and white lady’s slippers (Cypripedium reginae) at the side of the road. These exotic-looking native orchids are considered rare in many areas, being vulnerable to wetland draining, water contamination, hungry deer, and people who dig them up hoping to transplant them to their gardens. Lady’s slippers play an important role in one of Charles Darwin’s lesser-known works, On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids Are Fertilised by Insects, and on the Good Effects of Intercrossing (1862), in which he argues that the beautiful appearance of these plants can be more adequately explained by natural selection than by the design of a divine creator.
588. The Trail descends towards the thick forest that encircles Bognor Marsh.
589. Mike stands on a floating boardwalk that forms a short section of the Trail through Bognor Marsh.
590. A yellow pond lily (Nuphar variegata) , a.k.a. bullhead lily, a native aquatic plant, in Bognor Marsh.
591. Bognor Marsh is named for the small village of Bognor to its southeast. The village was founded as “Sydenham Mills,” then renamed “Bognor” to avoid confusion with another Sydenham in Frontenac County, north of Kingston. The name “Bognor” supposedly comes from Bognor Regis, a seaside resort in Sussex, England. “Bognor” is, I’m sure you’ll agree, a dreadful name for a resort, but it suits a marsh perfectly.
592. For the most part, the Trail through Bognor Marsh is dry. But there is one patch that demands agile balancing on logs to avoid ankle-deep water and mud.
593. Actually we’d have welcomed more marshland hiking during today’s hike. Most of the latter section involves quite challenging rocky Escarpment terrain, and when it ends, we still have 1.5 km to go along the Silent Valley Side Trail to reach our parking place at the north end of 2nd Concession Road South.