Today we had eight people out for the hike in warmish weather. Our hike leader is Jim Northey and he has been leading these Wednesday morning hikes for many years, through all four seasons. They always start at Sunset Café and each day is a new adventure.
We start with a zig-zag up the Southdale hill. The zig-zag was done my Rick Atchison, he has done a lot of maintenance on this piece of the trail and we owe him our gratitude. At the top we wander toward the creek then along the top ridge, crossing at the new Tilman Bridge. Tilman Joosten was the architect of this bridge and was able to get Thames Valley Trail Club to pay for the costs. It is a good solid design and should serve the hikers of Elgin County for a very long time. Our thanks to Tilman and the Thames Valley Trail Club.
The trail once again heads on top of the ridge towards Kettle Creek, veering north. The first lookout is mostly clay based and really suffering from erosion.
The second lookout is sand based. Both give a lovely view of Kettle Creek as it turns south towards Port Stanley. The trail then continues north along the ridge with a view of the subdivision backing right up to the trail. Then you venture down a fairly steep hill with a bridge to cross the ravine half way down.
At the bottom we circle around the west side of Shaw Valley Pond. It is teeming with life. Today, their were Belted Kingfisher, House and Carolina Wren, Purple Finch, Blue Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse and Gray Catbird.
The trail continues north along the west side of the pond, down a short hill and veers east for several hundred feet. We then head north again and come out at a field which we cross. Then a bridge and we turn west towards Kettle Creek. Follow it north and cross a group of bridges trying to stay in place battling the constant erosion, again.
This spot also sees the creek change direction and you can enjoy the view in both directions. The trail now goes through a damp area that is dry at this time of year. We cross over several bridges and can see how the rain waters are running following the trail. We exit at Sunset Café which is a great place to park the car and walk the trail both ways or take the road to Southdale and back via the trail. All in all, a lovely part of our Elgin Hiking Trail.
My thanks to Jim for taking the time to lead these Wednesday morning hikes.