Wawa, Ontario (part 2)

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DougBidlack
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Wawa, Ontario (part 2)

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:09 am

NTS,

on our second day we decided to hike Nokomis Trail within Lake Superior Provincial Park. This trail also passes through old-growth forests with spruces over 150 years old and red pines that are at least 215 years old. Unlike the previous day there were elements of more southern forests such as red pine as well as more disturbed forests such as jack pine. The trail would take us from Lake Superior up a steep hill and back down again to follow a river back to Lake Superior. The entire trail is only about three miles in length. On our climb up we didn’t see much of note although I do recall a fairly large quaking aspen but we didn’t measure it. When we started to get near the top we had several fantastic views of Lake Superior and we had glorious sunny skies. Here is a shot of Old Woman Bay with red pines in the foreground.
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The red pines were attractive but they were also quite small. We didn’t measure any of them. In this same area we also saw quite a few small jack pines. Here is a picture of Kouta hiding behind a few.
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I measured the girth of the fattest jack pine in this area to 4.53’ (1.38m) but we didn’t measure the height of any of them as they were quite short. As we walked along we came to several other good views of the Lake. Here is another picture of Old Woman Bay.
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We saw a number of serviceberries here but we didn’t try to identify them to species. At least six different Amelanchier are known from Lake Superior Provincial Park. As we started to head down the hill we came to a relatively flat area and Kouta spotted our greatest find of the day: A very impressive showy mountain-ash. We spent a great deal of time trying to measure this beautiful tree with two large stems. The smaller stem was 3.68’ (1.12m) in girth and the larger stem was 3.97’ (1.21m) in girth. Kouta decided on a height of 52.5’ (16.0m) for the fatter and taller stem. I didn’t get a picture of the whole tree but here are a couple close-ups of the trunks. I think Kouta might have gotten a picture of the whole tree.
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Farther on down the trail Kouta spotted a decent balsam fir that we measured to 3.69’ x 74.5’ (1.12m x 22.7m). I didn’t photograph this tree either. As the trail started to flatten out we came to a beautiful stand of northern white-cedars but none were especially large. Kouta spent a good deal of time here trying to get pictures while I moved on looking for large trees. Not too far down the trail a small stream flowed down to the left of the trail in a relatively deep ravine. There was a good-sized white spruce down there. Bigger than any we had yet seen. I went to get Kouta and we eventually measured this tree to 4.68’ x 94.8’ (1.43m x 28.9m). We then made our way upstream through some thick brush to measure another white spruce to 5.03’ x 88.9’ (1.53m x 27.1m). Unfortunately I have no pictures of either of these trees. I hope Kouta took some. As we were nearing the end of our trail we decided to measure a black spruce to 2.73’ x 70.2’ (0.83m x 21.4m). The soil was extremely rocky here with many softball-sized stones that made it somewhat difficult to walk. I didn’t get a picture of the Black spruce but I think Kouta might have taken one. Even farther down the trail Kouta spotted some balsam poplars at the edge of the river but they were not very large or tall so we didn’t measure any of them.

At the end of the day we had measured these trees:

White Spruce
4.68’ x 94.8’ (1.43m x 28.9m)
5.03’ x 88.9’ (1.53m x 27.1m)

Balsam Fir
3.69’ x 74.5’ (1.12m x 22.7m)

Black Spruce
2.73’ x 70.2’ (0.83m x 21.4m)

Showy Mountain-ash
3.97’ x 52.5’ (1.21m x 16.0m)

Jack Pine
4.53’ x ? (1.38m x ?)

On our third and final day together we decided to take two very short hikes without measuring any trees. I had to take Kouta to a hotel in Sault Ste. Marie and continue south to see my parents in southeastern Michigan. Our first trail was suggested to us by an enthusiastic hiker that we met on the Nokomis Trail. She told us that we absolutely had to hike the Orphan Lake Trail. We only had time to visit a very short portion of this five mile trail but what we saw was quite beautiful with several large trees, particularly yellow birch. This trail is in the southern portion of Lake Superior Provincial Park and it is within the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Forest. The forest near the parking area is completely dominated by sugar maple with plenty of yellow birch and some red maple and I think we saw some white pines here as well. The portion closest to the parking area was younger and had a number of pin cherries as well. We were wishing we could spend more time here and I vowed to come back to this trail in early October. We moved on to the very short (0.3 mi) Agawa Rock Pictographs Trail. I wanted to see some of the pictographs before leaving the park and Kouta seemed to think that was a good idea too. The pictographs are not actually all that old. I think they are only a little more than 200 years old. Here is a picture of the best one I could see without going for a swim!
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It turns out that the best ones can only be seen by kayak or some other small boat. The trail near the end was more treacherous than I expected. Here is a picture of Kouta taking off his shoes so he doesn’t slip on the rocks. Note the kayakers in the background.
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Here is another picture of Kouta and the kayakers.
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I was hoping to get a picture of the most iconic pictograph of this area…Misshepezhieu. Misshepezhieu is the Ojibwe name for the monster in the lake. They believed this beast to be responsible for the terrible storms on the Lake whenever he was angry. It was therefore best to try and placate the creature with some offerings before any voyage on Lake Superior. Many kayakers and canoeists still carry out this tradition today. The best I could do was to get a picture of a placard showing Misshepezhieu with a canoe and some serpents.
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That’s it for now, but I did return with my wife in early October. I’ll report on that soon.

Doug

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KoutaR
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Re: Wawa, Ontario (part 2)

Post by KoutaR » Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:09 am

Doug,

Excellent report again!

Here is a photo of the 16-meter showy mountain-ash. Note Doug standing at the base. Also mountain maple (A. spicatum) foliage.
LakeSuperiorSorbus_decora16m.jpg
I remember you got a bit less than 16 m from my measuring position, but you measured another top shooting direct upwards to exactly 16 m, so we decided to accept 16 m.

Unfortunately I don't have photos of the tallest spruces. The bush around the white spruces was so thick that it would have been very difficult to take photos.

An addition to the Orphan Lake Trail: There were also a lot of mountain paper birches (B. cordifolia). My impression was that the dominant trees were sugar maple, yellow birch and mountain paper birch. An interesting thing was that yew (Taxus canadensis) was plentiful in the understory.

Kouta

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DougBidlack
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Re: Wawa, Ontario (part 2)

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:01 am

Kouta,

yes, I shot straight up with my Nikon 440 and got 15.5 yards or 52.5' but I didn't say anything to you until you told me what you found. When you said 16.0m or 52.5' I was amazed that we came up with the same number. I thought you might end up slightly higher.

I'm happy you mentioned the yews. I had completely forgotten about them. You're right about the heart-leaved birches but I was just trying to point out trees that were not present in the boreal forest. I should have also mentioned which species were most common though so it's good that you indicated that one of the boreal species was among the most common in this forest as well.

Doug

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