December 30, 2001

BRUCE TRAIL - 4th Line Hockley Valley

Meeting report by Nathan and Alexis Burnett
(Photos by Walter Muma)

Our second Tracking Club outing went great, with about 35 people out to hike through the Hockley hardwood forest.  There were a few new faces and lots from the previous hike.

Before heading out, we briefly introduced ourselves to each other. 


We seemed to break apart into three groups as everyone moved down the trail at a different pace.  The west winds were blowing strong and steady, but the protection of the forest and the valley afforded lots of cover.  As we moved through the cedars at the top of the trail we descended down into the valley where a beautiful creek flowed down the hillside through the hardwood trees of maple, beech and white ash with scattered hemlocks and cedars.  We spent a good portion of the hike looking at the trees and some of their distinguishing characteristics.  We all studied the branching patterns, buds, bark and silhouettes of the many trees that we encountered throughout the day.  "Maple and ash are opposite", became the phrase of the day! Like always there were some trees that remained unidentified as we sifted through the many possibilities.  

Ample time for folks to pursue related interests along the way, such as photography.
Review question:
What tree is this (when young it keeps its leaves through the winter)?
A yellow birch tree that germinated and grew on a "nursery stump". When the original stump rotted away, it left the birch sitting above the ground on a pedestal of its own roots.
We walked to the Hockley Highlands Inn and then turned around and slowly re-traced our steps back to the cars.  Some of us did a short "Owl Eyes" (also known as "Wide-angle Vision) activity as we learned to view the landscape in extreme peripheral vision.  This is a great technique for noticing the movement of things in the forest, such as the wildlife or the bending of the trees from the wind.  We briefly talked about how this use of "owl eyes" allows us to become more "in-tune" with our surroundings and helps us to attain a greater level of awareness while moving through the landscape.  
There were many things that we noticed while walking back on this same trail.   Many people in the group held considerable knowledge of the trees in the area and many new things were learned by all.  It was great to see the eagerness of everyone to closely observe the different species of trees --- Truly inspiring.  Some of the trees that we identified included:  sugar & red maple, American beech, eastern hemlock & cedar, ironwood, white ash, black cherry, black ash?  and butternut?  Among others.

Here's an ash that has sprouted many strong suckers from the stump.  


Part of the walk was along a skidder trail and saw many signs of the recent tree-cutting that had taken place over the last year or so.  There was quite a difference from the area when some of us were last there as a result of the cutting.  We spent some time talking about the pros and cons of the cutting and what could have been done better or worse.  We also talked about how it could of been done with the "Caretaker's" attitude, which would have benefited the environment as a whole.  Even a simple thing like taking the diseased trees instead of the healthy ones.  We speculated about some of the erosion that may take place in the future and how this area may be affected in the coming years.  

We had a bit of debate over this tree before finally settling on it being a butternut.
(This was confirmed by later research at home by Walter & Julie).
Can anyone solve this mystery tree for us?

Some of us thought it might be an elm.

We thank everyone who attended and hope to see them back again soon.  We also look forward  to some new faces on our next hike.  Happy New Year!!!!
For more Tree ID information, visit the Ontario Trees & Shrubs website

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