Distance hiked: 14.7 km // 9.2 mi
Steps taken: 21, 496
Time on the trail: ~4.75 hours
Calories burned: 1, 565
Fuel consumed: 1 cheese string, 4 oreos, 2 tortillas with peanut butter + honey, ju jubes, 2L water
Wildlife spotted: many chipmunks, squirrels, mosquitoes, and frogs, 5 garter snakes, 1 eastern ratsnake!
This past Saturday I returned to the Jones Creek trail system of Thousand Islands National Park. I was determined to make it around the entire system in one straight shot, beaver ponds be damned, and I had come prepared with a properly water-proofed pack, an extra pair of socks, and most importantly, a plan.
I made it through the wolf trail and the first half of the hawk loop without anything too eventful happening. It was a gorgeous day and I enjoyed soaking in the lovely forest sights, sounds, and smells. When I arrived at the deer trail, I put my beaver-pond-crossing plan into action. While discussing my previously failed attempt with others, I had come up with a much better plan than attempting to wade across the pond. I would simply use the beaver dam as a bridge. It was slow going (that beaver dam was surprisingly long and twisty!), but I made it across successfully!! I felt super accomplished after making it across (I jokingly told a friend that I had just levelled up as a hiker), despite having to immediately scramble up a sheer wall of soil to make my way back to the trail.
My beaver dam bridge! A lot of frogs like to hang out here, and they were all leaping out of my way as I walked.
I began making my way along the deer trail, stopping before long to enjoy a snack and a gorgeous forest view from the top of a hill. However, the mosquitoes were too thick to stop for long and I was soon on my way again. I made my way around the beautiful snipe trail without any trouble, but my heart did skip a beat when I saw a large black dog running along the trail in the distance (I had seen bear scat earlier so my brain was on high alert). And near the end of the loop, I made one of my most exciting wildlife sightings to date! There was an eastern ratsnake (or black/grey ratsnake) sitting right in the middle of the trail! This is a species at risk that is monitored within the park, and it was my first time seeing one in the wild. It moved off the trail as I approached, and I excitedly got closer to try and take some photos. I must have moved towards it too quickly, because it quickly turned around and reared up in a defensive position. It even began to rattle its tail in the dead leaves to simulate a rattle, which was pretty cool to witness. I backed off and waited until it had moved away before I continued down the trail (unfortunately not getting any photos). It was a generally snakey day on the trail, as I also spotted 5 garter snakes throughout the hike.
After completing the snipe loop, I made my way back along the deer trail, and completed a second successful crossing of the beaver pond. I then triumphantly made my way around the second half of the hawk loop, and back along to the wolf trail to where my car was waiting. My second round on the Jones Creek trails was definitely more successful than my first (although I did lose one of my favourite pairs of sunglasses somewhere along the way… boo), and I was able to appreciate the beautiful scenery even more than I did on my previous hike.
Trail lesson of the day: If at first you don’t succeed, step back and look at the problem from another perspective. Then try, try again.