Calabogie Hiker: Early Spring Flora to Watch for in N.E. Ontario and Québec Highlands.

Top: Trillium, Wild Ginger, Dutchman’s Breeches. Middle: Trout Lily, Wild Violet, Bellwort. Bottom: White Hepatica, Bethroot.

BLOG #17: Hiking in the north eastern highlands of Ontario and Quebec during April and May is simply wondrous. If you do go hiking remember to bring the four essential hiking items: a lighter (or matches), a small sharp knife, a whistle and a compass. Muddy Spring hike? Yes, its true many areas are muddy and flooded but a good pair of waterproof hiking boots is all you need. Consider going out after 3-4 days of warm sunshine as the ground will be firmer. Once you see the flowers you'll forget about the mud. Higher rocky areas will be drier and the first blooms will start up there near the top if its not too dry. Up in the highlands, you may see areas of snow, especially on the north-east sides. As the snow melts and temporary waterfalls play their music, the spring flora come alive in a colourful dance. Its an enchanting ephemeral forest. I put my boots on and the muddy venture begins. Sure you can wear your fave gum boots if you don't plan on climbing any steep trails or hills. In my experience even if you plan to putter about down below the hills a beautiful Bloodroot flower (not pictured above) will catch your eye up there and you'll be so sorry for the missed photo opportunity. Dutchman’s Breeches are always hiding on the other side of a rock and you have to go searching for them. Remember to wear a bell so the mama and baby animals can hear you and clear the area before you arrive. Stop and eat your lunch on a big rock or on a flat alvar so the spring warmth is doubled. Its surprising how hot it is near the rocks. You many just have to take off your coat for a bit. There will be spring fungi along the way too such as the scarlet cup and false morels and a selection of overwintered tree brackets. Edible morels will be out also but I don't usually see them deep in the forest. They are usually seen in clearings below and around old oak and apple trees. Didn’t know? Please consider hiking with a guide if you do not want to get lost or return without any sightings. It is well worth receiving identification, sound knowledge and tips for a successful hike. A hike with beautiful photos to capture. Email for more info me at: hulett.colleen@gmail.com.

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