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Nature – Bearbells

Nature – Bearbells

Bearbells and Beagles by Leslie Noonan

So far my Ganaraska solo hike had been fairly tame.  The routes were usually well marked, the terrain was not too difficult, and I was adjusting to the weight of my pack.  That all changed once I came to the village of Glencairn. Here the trail turns off into the bush alongside the Mad River.  Initially, the trail was clear and well used by fishermen.  That did not continue for very far, and I found myself confronted with a tangle of dense vegetation with no trail and no ability to find the trail marker.  After 15 frustrated minutes of bush whacking, I made the perhaps unwise decision to jump into the river with my pack held above my head with water up to my armpits.   I continued this way through the murky water until reaching a bend that was too deep for me to manage.  With a toss of my pack up the embankment, I used exposed roots to pull myself back up onto the bank.  And here we are, back into the jungle.  I did manage to find a trail marker, and came out of the thick vegetation into…muck.  Yep, thick, deep muck up to my knees.  Muck that would suck my shoes off and have me searching for it in the black goo.  By this time, I am yelling words that would scare off the birds for miles around.  Needless to say I was in one black mood by the time I reached the road.  It seemed fitting to sit and have a rest next to the local cemetery.  The remainder of this days trek was relatively unremarkable.  The trail follows country roads until a Simcoe County Forest tract, which was peaceful, dry and full of bird songs.  From there I continued along until the picturesque village of Creemore where I stopped for the night.

The next few days were relatively uneventful.  This area follows many scenic country roads which offer a spectacular view of the surrounding area.  I helped a snail across the road, and had an early morning conversation with a donkey.

All was well until I hit the turn off for the short stretch of trail through Glen Huron that leads to the western terminus of the trail.  The curse words I had used previously had nothing on what I was about to unleash.  This would be the most hated section of trail for me. There was no trail and my maps were very inaccurate.  Imagine my confusion while standing in front of a huge corn field and my map telling me to continue on through the apple orchard.  At one point I needed to cross a barbed wire fence using a stile.  Well, the post holding the stile had rotted through, and as I tried to climb the stile the post gave way and flipped me on my back with the barbed wire latched onto my leg.  On a positive note I had an excuse to get an updated tetanus booster.  It was with great relief I left this area behind and continued along more scenic country roads to Wasaga Beach.  Here the trail entered the beautiful forest around the Wasaga Nordic ski trails.  This is a great place to hike along more than 50 km of trail systems including the Ganaraska trail, through mostly pine forest with well-maintained trails.  This ended this section of my solo hike and earned me a well-deserved zero rest at home with the family.

At the end of my journey I did contact the Ganaraska trail association regarding the horrible condition of this trail section.  At the time of my hike there was no member maintaining this area.  However, I have been told that the map and trail system have been updated and are in much better condition now.  None the less, you couldn’t get me to go back and redo this section even if it was paved!


Keep pets cool when temperatures soar! 5 tips to keep your furry friend safe this summer

With temperatures soaring, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society wants to remind pet families to keep the safety of their furry friends top of mind. Here are five tips to keep your pets cool and safe this season:

  1. Limit exercise on hot days – Planning on spending time outdoors? Choose the coolest part of the day – the morning or early evening. Walking on sidewalks during the heat of the day can burn your fur baby’s sensitive paws! Choose a shaded area for your walks and pick a route close to home in case you need to cut your walk short.
  2. Never leave pets in a vehicle – Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly reach dangerous levels on warm days. If you can’t take your pet with you when you stop, leave them at home where they are safe. If you are planning a road trip, remember to always secure your pet in the back seat in either a carrier or pet seatbelt for their safety and yours. Make sure you pack everything you’ll need for rest stops, including bowls, food and water, and plan your stops around pet-friendly locations.
  3. Provide shade and water – When your pet is outside, make sure they have access to shade and keep an eye on them to make sure they are comfortable. It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature, but also the humidity that can affect your pet. Ensure they always have access to fresh, cool water.
  4. Watch for heatstroke – If your pet developed heatstroke, would you recognize the signs and know what to do? Signs of heatstroke include increased heart rate, excessive panting or drooling, listlessness, confusion or disorientation, bright red gums, vomiting or diarrhea, collapse, seizure or coma and body temperature higher than 40°C. If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, call your local veterinary hospital immediately.
  5. Know who to call – The Ontario SPCA does not have the authority to investigate concerns for the welfare of an animal. If you have a concern, please contact the Government of Ontario’s Provincial Animal Welfare Services team at 1-833-9ANIMAL (1-833-926-4625) or your local police services. If you see an animal in a hot car in distress and are concerned the animal’s life is in danger, call 911 immediately as this is an emergency. While waiting for help to arrive, you can stay by the vehicle and monitor the animal and also try locating the vehicle owner by paging them in nearby shops/restaurants.

“Our animals count on us to keep them safe,” says Dr. Stephanie Black, Chief Veterinary Officer, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. “Having a plan and taking basic precautions will help everyone in your family stay safe and comfortable during hot weather.”

For more animal health and safety tips, visit ontariospca.ca

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