THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE FRIENDS OF FRONTENAC PARK
Spring/Summer 2007 Number 48


How would you like to own a new Langford Canoe?

Langford Canoe logoLangford Prospector Canoe for Raffle

Langford Canoe on dockImagine canoeing the majestic lakes of Frontenac Park in your new Langford canoe. For $5, you could be the lucky winner of a Langford canoe valued at $2,500 proudly donated to The Friends of Frontenac Park by the Langford Canoe Company. Tickets can be purchased from the Trail Centre. Proceeds of the canoe raffle will be used to fund the Doe Lake Trail and Arab Lake Gorge Revitalization Project. Join us at the Frontenac Challenge BBQ on Saturday November 10 at 10:30am for the drawing of the winning ticket.

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President's Message

The President's face - Paul VickersThis year is certainly looking like it is going to be a year marked with successes and achievements. Your Board has been kept busy on their feet as they tend to our numerous projects and programs.

Make sure you purchase a ticket for the beautiful Langford canoe that has been donated to us. Tickets are available from the Trail Centre. Our Canoe Committee will be hard at work over the summer selling 1,500 tickets for the canoe.

The Doe Lake Trail and Arab Lake Gorge Revitalization Project Committee was busy over the winter getting ready for a summer of work on these two popular trails. Be sure to join us at one of our Volunteer Work Days to help with revitalizing these trails.

Our rejuvenated information pamphlet came off the presses at the end of February. Working under the time constraint of a grant deadline, the Pamphlet Committee diligently proof-read several versions of the pamphlet to make it perfect, and useful to visitors of Frontenac Park. Pick-up your copy at the Trail Centre or our information kiosk.

The Kevin Callan Committee has also been hard at work getting ready for his presentation on April 12th. This is sure to be an informative and entertaining evening of adventures in our provincial parks and protected lands.

Our Management Plan Committee is ready to start work on phase 3 of the Frontenac Park Management Plan. As soon as phase 3 is issued, we have a team of people ready to read the document from front to back, research issues, and provide input and comments to Ontario Parks on the long-term management of this special park.

And that is just the beginning of the events that are keeping our Board and volunteers busy. More information on these events and projects are included in the newsletter.

***

This winter has certainly been an eye opener on the environmental issues facing our natural world. One minute we’re lamenting about the lack of snow and the next minute we’re digging ourselves out in minus 30 weather. Who knows what this summer will bring us. That happy-medium would be ideal, but my gut feeling is that we’re in for a summer of extreme weather. From rainy weeks to extreme heat waves, I suspect we’ll see it all this summer.

Frontenac Park is certainly seeing its share of environmental change. Please help take care of this precious park when you’re visiting, and when you’re at home.

***

Since joining the Board of Directors in November 2000, my life has changed, and as such, I am giving strong consideration to retiring at this year’s annual general meeting. Much has been accomplished in my five years as President and two years as Treasurer. The Friends have made a positive impact on Frontenac Park in these years.

This year is an appropriate year to let someone else enjoy leading The Friends. Many projects that I have been championing over the past few years have or will come to an end by November. Also, the human resource capacity of The Friends is currently strong (but could always be stronger). The Board has more than a full slate. Membership is growing and there is never a problem recruiting volunteers for our events. Our reputation in the community is well respected. I feel that I am handing over The Friends to my successor in extremely good shape.

Of course, there is the endless list of projects that I never got to. Some I’ll take on after retirement, some will be suggested to the new President, and some will go another list of projects that will never get done.

While you’re hiking the endless network of trails or canoeing down a lake next to a family of loons please give thought to returning a favour to this special park by becoming a Director of The Friends, or maybe even, President.

Paul Vickers

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Outside

Here is a list of upcoming activities that maybe of interest to you. Please participate and tell your friends about them The * denotes Friends' sponsored activities Do not forget that you will need to purchase a daily vehicle or camping permit to take part in most of these activities. Contact the Park (613 376 3489) for more information.

* Saturday, March 31: Volunteer/Guide/Host Training Would you like to volunteer at the Park? Come to this training session offered by the Park staff and the Friends at the Trail Centre. Time: 09:00 to 15:00; Contact the Park (376 3489) for details.

* Thursday, April 12: An evening with Kevin Callan. Join us for a fun and entertaining evening of stories and adventures presented by well known author and speaker Kevin Callan. from 7pm to 9pm at Duncan McArthur Hall - Queen’s University West Campus.

* Saturday, April 14: Historical Walk Join the Friends on this walk down memory lane and learn a bit about the human history of Frontenac Park. A short walk (approx. 7km) down Big Salmon Lake Road past some of the old family homesteads of the area’s early settlers. Meet at the Trail Centre at 10:30am and return at approx. 16:00. Bring water,a lunch, good walking shoes and lots of questions. Please register with the Park at 613 376-3489 and plan to go, rain or shine.

* Monday, April 16: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00

* Saturday, April 21: Guide Trail Sweep The Volunteers/Guides will do general maintenance on the Park's trails to get them in top shape for our visitors. Meet at the Trail Centre at 08:30 to 16:30; Contact the Park (613 376 3489) for details.

Saturday, April 28: Hike Leader Certification: Presented by Dave Armitage, Hike Ontario, Toronto. This popular Hike Ontario Standard Course for hike leaders covers such topics as: risk and incident management, hike planning, clothing etc.. See Park Tabloid for further details. Cost $55.00 per person plus park fee. Time: 09:00 to 16:00

Saturday May 5 & Sunday May 6: Basic Wilderness First Aid Presented by SOLO Canada / Mr. Mark Halladay of Emergency Services, Kingston. This course, designed by Dr. Frank Hubble of the North American Rescue Institute, takes you beyond standard first aid. Cost $165.00 (GST included) per person plus park fee. Time: 08:30 to 16:15; Contact the Park at 613 376-3489 for further details and to register.

* Monday, May 14: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00

* Saturday, May 26: Wilderness Navigation using Map and Compass Come and learn how to interpret and read topographical maps and then find your way in the wilderness using a variety of techniques and equipment. Cost $20.00 per person (plus GST and Park fee). Time: 09:00 to 16:00. Meet at the Trail Centre.

Sunday, June 3: Canoe Clinic This presentation by the Cataraqui Canoe Club is for beginners and first time canoeists. Canoes, Paddles & PFD’s are supplied. Cost is $10.00 per person plus park fee. Time: 10:00 to 16:00. See Park Tabloid for more details.

* Saturday, June 9: President’s Paddle Join the Friends for a canoe trip on Big Salmon Lake. The flotilla will depart at 10:00 from the canoe launch on Big Salmon Lake, headed for campsite #4. Anticipated return is 16:00.

Sunday, June 10: Introduction to Lightweight Backpack Camping Presented by Walter Sepic of Firefly Adventures of Kingston. Learn about pre-trip planning, equipment, food selection, tents, stoves etc. Meet at the Trail Centre. Cost is $30.00 /person, $50.00 /couple, plus park fee. Min. 12 yrs of age. Time: 09:00 to 16:00. See Park Tabloid for further details.

* Monday, June 11: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Saturday June 16: Doe Lake Rehabilitation Day #1 Come out and join with the Friends on the first of several days dedicated to completing the work to upgrade the Doe Lake hiking trail. See article in this newsletter, contact the Park at 376-3489 or visit our website (www.frontenacpark.ca) for additional information.

Saturday, June 23 & Sunday June 24: Tandem and Solo Flatwater Canoe Certification Course Presented by Sheila Ritter, Land o’ Lakes Canoeing & Kayaking. Forms prerequisite for all subsequent canoeing certification. Successful participants receive badge, card and registration in O.R.C.A. Cost: $320.00 /person plus park fee. Time: 09:00 to 17:30 at the Trail Centre. See Park Tabloid for further details pr call 376-3489.

Saturday, July 7: Flatwater Kayaking Certification Course Presented by Sheila Ritter, Land o’ Lakes Canoeing & Kayaking. Forms prerequisite for all subsequent kayaking certification. Successful participants receive badge, card and registration. Cost: $150.00 /person (plus park fee) Time: 09:00 to 17:30. See Park Tabloid for further details.

Sunday, July 8: Introduction to Fishing Workshop Presented by Rick & Sally Blasko, Northern Country Outdoor World, Inverary. Learn about proper equipment, fish locating, filleting, and casting & retrieving techniques. Practice yours skills afterwards on Otter Lake. Bring your valid Ontario Fishing Licence. Cost $10.00 per person or $15.00 per family plus park fee. Time: 10:00 to 16:00. See Park Tabloid for further details.

Sunday, July 8: Kayaking Deep Water Rescues & Rolling Clinic Presented by Sheila Ritter, Land o’ Lakes Canoeing & Kayaking. An introduction to the most commonly used techniques for assisted and self rescues. Required prerequisite: Flatwater Kayaking Certification Course (offered on July 7th ) Cost: $125.00 /person plus park fee. Time: 09:00 to 15:30 at the Trail Centre. See Park Tabloid for further details.

Saturday, August 11: Flatwater Kayaking Certification Course Presented by Sheila Ritter, Land o’ Lakes Canoeing & Kayaking. Forms prerequisite for all subsequent kayaking certification. Successful participants receive badge, card and registration in C.R.C.A. Cost: $150.00 /person (plus park fee) Time: 09:00 to 17:30. See Park Tabloid for further details.

Sunday, August 12: Kayaking Deep Water Rescues & Rolling Clinic : Presented by Sheila Ritter, Land o’ Lakes Canoeing & Kayaking. An introduction to the most commonly used techniques for assisted and self rescues. Required prerequisite: Flatwater Kayaking Certification Course (offered on July 7 & August 11 ) Cost: $125.00 /person plus park fee. Time: 09:00 to 15:30 at the Trail Centre. See Park Tabloid for further details.

* Tuesday, August 7: Deadline for Autumn Newsletter We welcome your articles, letters, stories and photographs. Material should be sent to The Friends address shown on the back page or e-mailed to: harvguy@kos.net For electronic items, please sent articles as Microsoft Word files with a minimum of formatting, and photographs as 180 dpi greyscale. If necessary/possible, please compress (zip) files before sending.

Saturday, August 18 & Sunday August 19: Introduction to Sea Kayaking Course (Level 1 certification) Presented by Sheila Ritter, Land o’ Lakes Canoeing & Kayaking. Will focus on equipment, safety and skills. Cost; $300.00 /person plus park fee. Time: 09:00 to 16:00 each day (two day course) See Park Tabloid for further details.

* Sept. 1 to Oct. 31: Frontenac Challenge The Frontenac Challenge involves hiking all 160 km of the Park’s trail network between September 1 and October 31. To meet the challenge, pick up a registration form and the specific trail information at the Trail Centre and then set out to hike through the autumn grandeur of Frontenac Park. Participants who complete the Challenge will receive a certificate at the Awards Banquet on Saturday November 10, at 10:30. So come out to Frontenac Park and take the Challenge !

* Doe Lake Rehabilitation Day (Fall) - Day #2 Come out and join with the Friends on the second of several days dedicated to completing the work to upgrade the Doe Lake hiking trail. Contact the Park at 376-3489 or visit our website (www.frontenacpark.ca) for actual date/time and further information.

Saturday September 8 & Sunday September 9: Basic Wilderness First Aid Presented by SOLO Canada / Mr. Mark Halladay of Emergency Services, Kingston. This course, designed by Dr. Frank Hubble of the North American Rescue Institute, takes you beyond standard first aid. Cost $165.00 (GST included) per person plus park fee. Time: 08:30 to 16:15; Contact the Park at 376-3489 for further details and to register.

* Monday, September 10: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Saturday, September 22: Wilderness Navigation using Map and Compass Come and learn how to interpret and read topographical maps and then find your way in the wilderness using a variety of techniques and equipment. Cost $20.00 per person (plus GST and Park fee). Time: 09:00 to 16:00. Meet at the Trail Centre.

* Sunday, October 14: Guide Trail Sweep The Volunteers/Guides will do general maintenance on the Park's trails to get them in top shape for our visitors. Bring a lunch & work gloves. A Chili supper will be served to all participants at the end of the day. Meet at the Trail Centre at 08:30 to 16:00; Contact the Park (376 3489) for more details.

* Monday, October 15: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Saturday November 10: Frontenac Challenge Awards Barbecue Registered participants will receive a certificate of achievement, share stories and chow down on hot dogs, including vegetarian fare, cooked by the Friends. Donations will be gratefully received. Meet at the Trail Centre for 10:30.

* Saturday November 10: Annual General Meeting All members are invited to attend the Friends’ AGM to start at 13:00 at the Trail Centre. The minutes of the last AGM will be posted at 12:30. Why not come early and join us for the Challenge BBQ? This will give you an opportunity to meet the Challenge participants.

* Monday, November 12: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Monday December 3: Deadline for Winter Newsletter We welcome your articles, letters, stories and photographs. Material should be sent to The Friends address shown on the back page or e-mailed to: harvguy@kos.net For electronic items, please sent articles as Microsoft Word files with a minimum of formatting, and photographs as 180 dpi greyscale. If necessary/possible, please compress (zip) files before sending.

* Monday, December 10: Friends Board Meeting Location & time to be determined.

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Mitchell Creek Bridge Repairs

By Paul Vickers

After two years of politics, policy, and lobbying, the deteriorating Mitchell Creek Bridge will likely be replaced this year.

At the time of printing the newsletter, Township of South Frontenac officials are expecting to start replacement of the bridge after Labour Day with completion anticipated to be around October 3. If you’re planning to visit the north west side of Frontenac Park this fall, you should consider the possibility of the Mitchell Creek Bridge being closed. Please note: This information is tentative, and is subject to change (either sooner, later, longer, or not this year).

Our website, www.frontenacpark.ca, has recent information on the repairs and a map of the lengthy detour.

Check with the Trail Centre at 613-376-3489 or our website for current information.

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Salmon Lake Road in 1895

By Jérôme McDuff

Imagine it is 1895, Queen Victoria is still ruling the “Empire”, five years earlier John A. MacDonald was still Prime Minister and the Salmon Lake Road has permanent residents.

In 1885 if you walked from the present day entrance of the Park towards the canoe launch on Big Salmon Lake, you would pass by the main farm of George and Mary Kemp. Georges’ father established the farm over 20 years before and it is fairly prosperous considering the location. A bit further, the road bisects a lot that George and Mary lease from the Canada Company to increase their farm acreage.

Next our walk reaches Ken and Fanny Babcock’s farm. They purchased this half-lot five years earlier. The northern part, the other half, is the home of David Brown and his family. Ken and Fanny will eventually buy out David Brown’s farm.

Now we are getting to Arab Lake where the Babcocks live. The house is only four year’s old and was built by Ken and his father David. Fanny a strong and engaging woman will get the title of “Matriarch” of the Salmon Lake Road because she will be the last of the “old” homesteaders to leave.

Our walk now reaches Isaac and Mary David property. They do not have a home on this lot using the land as a woodlot.

Finally we reach the last homestead not far from Big Salmon Lake. The house is on the left but is vacant. The place is owned by Jonathan Lacey, a mining entrepreneur. Williams Sigsworth Jr. and his family used to live and farm here, but Williams sold the place to Lacey before moving to the United States. Jonathan Lacey was not interested in farming; he wanted to develop the mine at the north end of the lot – the Birch Lake mine.

Interested in walking the road in 2007? Come and join me for a Historical Walk on Saturday 14-April-2007. Meet at the Trail Centre theatre at 10h30 for an introductory presentation, followed by the interpretive walk down the road. We should be back to the Trail Centre around 16h00.

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An evening with Kevin Callan

Kevin CallanThe Friends of Frontenac Park are proud to sponsor and invite Kevin Callan to Kingston for an informative and entertaining evening of stories, (mis) adventures, and stunning photos of our provincial parks.

Kevin Callan is the author of nine books, including his bestselling Paddler’s Guide series (Frontenac Park is featured in his “Paddler’s Guide to Ontario” book). A regular contributor to outdoor magazines, he is the recipient of three National Magazine Awards and is a featured speaker at many of North America’s largest paddling events. The first in his series of short films, titled River Rat, won first prize at the prestigious Waterwalker Film Festival; the second and third in the series were on tour across North America. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario, the birthplace of the famous Peterborough canoe and home of the Canadian Canoe Museum. While canoeing is the focus of several books, Kevin is also an avid hiker and environmentalist.

Novel Idea, Kingston’s only locally owned independent book store, will be selling Kevin’s books at the evening. If printing schedules work in our favour, Kevin’s new book “Quetico and Beyond” will be available for purchase. Kevin will be around before and after the presentation to sign his books. Novel Idea will generously donate 10% of gross sales of the evening to The Friends of Frontenac Park.

We hope you will join us for what is sure to be a fantastic evening with Kevin. The presentation is on Thursday, April 12th, from 7pm to 9pm at Duncan McArthur Hall (Queen’s University West Campus – corner of Union and Sir John A. Macdonald). No charge, but voluntary donations accepted.

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Friends of Frontenac Provincial Park Volunteer Training

Take the quiz!

Are you interested in helping maintain trails ensuring that they are well marked for our visitors?

Would like to greet people at the Trail Centre and assist them in making a good choice of trails for their day or weekend outing?

Would you like to walk the trails and be an ambassador to ensure that everyone is headed in the right direction and enjoying the day?

Would you like to learn more about and participate in our Winter Hosting Program that runs through January to the end of March providing conversation, helpful suggestions or simply ensuring that the hot chocolate is ready inside the Trail Centre for those hikers and outdoor sports folks?

Do you have skill and expertise or simply an interest in working with a team to help with trail maintenance and repair and build bridges or other activity that helps Park Staff ensure our trails are in the best kept condition?

If you can answer yes to any of the above then circle Saturday March 31 on your calendar

and join us from 9h00 – 15h00 at the Trail Centre (please bring your lunch) for an introduction to the Park and the roles and responsibilities that will make your volunteer time a win-win situation for you and the Park we love.

Come check out our new format for the day and meet new and seasoned volunteers! Please call the Park (613) 376-3489 to let them know that you will be joining us. We look forward to seeing you.

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Revitalization Project Update

By Paul Vickers

Be sure to join us on our first Volunteer Work Day for the Doe Lake Trail and Arab Lake Gorge Trail Revitalization Project on Saturday, June 16th.

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation logoWith the $10,000 donated from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, $12,000 of funds raised by The Friends of Frontenac Park, and $10,000 of in-kind contribution from Ontario Parks, we will be making a significant positive impact to the natural environment of these trails and enhancing visitor experience.

Some of these funds will be used to hire two summer students to work solely on this project. These students will do most of the prep work for the Volunteer Work Days, including cutting lumber and transporting it to the work site. They will also do some of the heavy work, such as hauling cedar chips. The rest of the funds will be used to purchase material for the trails.

The summer of work includes replacing or installing new bridges and boardwalk, laying cedar chips, fixing erosion damage, installing benches, replacing steps leading to the trails, installing a trailhead sign (complete with trail guide dispensers), and numerous other minor improvements and long over-due maintenance work.

Both trails will be open during the work, but please exercise caution when encountering a work site.

Please check our website for up-to-date information on this project, including future Volunteer Work Day dates.

***

Working on the Doe Lake TrailThe Volunteer Work Day starts at 8:30am from the Trail Centre. Volunteers will be formed into work groups and assigned various tasks for the day. Due to the day involving tasks in several areas of the two trails, including the far corners of Doe Lake Trail, we will forego having an organized group lunch for this work day. We’ll keep a cooler stocked with cold drinks and water, and plenty of munchies. Tools will be provided, but please wear appropriate clothing for physical work on these trails. Please bring work gloves, lunch, sunscreen and bug repellent. The day will end around 4pm. Only in the event of heavy persistant rain will the day be cancelled.

***

Doe Lake Trail and Arab Lake Gorge Trail are the most popular trails of Frontenac Park, a Provincial Park known for its near-wilderness environment. These trails are enjoyed by families, novice hikers, and first time visitors due to their short distances, relatively easy terrain, abundant plant, animal and aquatic life, and exposure to the human history of the Park Unfortunately, the popularity of these trails has taken a toll on their paths and bridges.

The Friends of Frontenac Park would like to preserve the ecological integrity of the Doe Lake Trail and Arab Lake Gorge Trail, while adding user-friendly enhancements such as bridges and benches. Such enhancements will enable more children, adults, and seniors, of varying levels of walking ability, to enjoy these two trails. By revitalizing the paths and structures of these two flagship trails, The Friends hope to encourage visitors to return and enjoy more of the Park’s trails and see its many historical and natural features.

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Winter Camping

Disappointed that we had to cancel the 2007 winter camping wilderness program? Don’t be! Sign up at the Trail Centre now for the 2008 session. The training session is scheduled for January 19 and the interior camping is scheduled for February 2 & 3 and February 9 & 10 (participants pick one of two weekends).

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4th edition of The Friends of Frontenac Park Interior Map

by Paul Vickers

The Friends interior map is essential for anyone venturing into the interior of the Park. This large scale topographical map includes all the hiking trails of Frontenac Park, and highlights campsites, portages and other points of interest such as lookouts and historical sites. The back of the map provides information on the Park, Park rules, natural and human history, and using the Park in winter.

The fourth edition includes route changes to the trails, trail distances, updating the back of the map, and several other changes that have happened in and around Frontenac Park. As with past editions, the map features the artwork of local artist Marta Scythes.

The map is available for purchase at the Trail Centre and by mail from the Friends for $8 for the traditional paper version and $20 for the waterproof map (add $1 extra for mailing). Many outfitters and map stores also sell the map.

Don’t get lost, get the map!

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Handling dead animals and birds

Please do the Park staff a favour if you find a dead animal or bird by NOT bringing it into the Trail Centre for them to look at. If you find a dead animal or bird, please report the find to the Park Office, who will then follow the Ministry of Natural Resources’ policy for handling dead animals.

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Our new information pamphlet

New Friends' brochure front pageBy Paul Vickers

With a generous $2,500 grant from the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation, we were able to redesign our general information pamphlet this winter.

Logo - Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation

This rejuvenated pamphlet replaces a tired pamphlet we’ve been using for at least 13 years. Using a combination of people photos, nature photos, and text, the full colour pamphlet tells the story of The Friends of Frontenac Park. Visitors can easily learn what we’re about and what we do (and why they should become involved with The Friends).

Many thanks to our photographers (Doug Hamilton, Bert Korporall, Jerome McDuff, Simon Smith and Tristan Willis) who provided the photos for this eye catching pamphlet. Paranoid with leaving a typo in the pamphlet, John Critchley and Joan McDuff spent many hours reading and re-reading endless revisions of the pamphlet. The pamphlet was designed by Smallworld Media Group of Kingston and is printed on environment friendly paper.

The Frontenac CFDC supported this initiative because of the economic impact Frontenac Park has on the surrounding area. The recent “Background and Information” document on Frontenac Park pegged the economic benefit at over $1 million a year. They understood and appreciated that a strong and vibrant Friends organization encourages visitation to the Park, which in turn supports the local economy. Having an up-to-date and visually pleasing information pamphlet will encourage visitors to become members of The Friends of Frontenac Park or make a financial donation (and in turn make us a strong and vibrant Friends organization that encourages visitation to the Park).

Look for our new pamphlet at our information kiosk and at the Trail Centre.

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Membership Matters

by John Critchley

Membership Renewal

Thanks to all of you who have sent in your membership renewal, you can ignore the rest of this message.

It’s membership renewal time again!

If your membership expires this year, you received a personalized Membership Renewal Form enclosed in the Winter Newsletter. For those who may have misplaced the form I have included another form in this newsletter. Please RETURN THE RENEWAL FORM along with your membership renewal cheque today.

The Renewal Form serves as a backup hard copy for the membership database as well as providing an accounting audit trail, so it is important that you return the form with your cheque.

Any questions about your membership? Contact John Critchley, Membership Secretary at 613-634-5475 or email at sharjohn.critchley@sympatico.ca

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Park Management Planning for Frontenac Provincial Park

by Ontario Parks

In 2002, Ontario Parks Southeast Zone invited you to participate in management planning for Frontenac Provincial Park. We released a Background Information document in April 2005, describing the park’s setting, features and values. We now invite you to review and comment on the Management Options document, which summarizes key topics and optional approaches that are being considered for park management.

The Frontenac Provincial Park Management Options document will be released for public review and comment on Tuesday, February 27, 2007 via the Ontario Parks planning index webpage. All management planning documents are available electronically at: www.ontarioparks.com/english/fron_planning.html

Comments and feedback related to Frontenac Provincial Park management planning are welcome. Please provide your comments by Friday, April 13, 2007.

All comments and requests should be submitted to the attention of:

Carolyn Bonta, Assistant Park Planner
Ontario Parks, Southeast Zone
51 Heakes Lane
Kingston, Ontario K7M 9B1
Tel: (613) 545-4021
Fax: (613) 536-7228
E-mail: carolyn.bonta@ontario.ca.

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My Frontenac Challenge

by Doris Ihrig

The Frontenac Challenge! I first heard about it in 2000. Usually delivered with awe…by seasoned hikers. Golf was my summer pastime.

Back in 1999, a friend introduced me to the Rideau Trail and in complete innocence I started out from Kingston with a group in May 2000 on the Rideau Trail End-to-End.

During those hikes I often followed a Frontenac Challenge and/or a Cataraqui Trail badge on the pack in front of me. They were very nice - blue. Where do you get that? Well, you have to hike. In the meantime I was hiking. I hiked the Rideau Trail End-to-End in 2000 as scheduled, one of the proudest accomplishments of my life. I went back to golf, but I remembered those patches – Frontenac Challenge and Cataraqui Trail.

Now, the Great Blue Heron Cataraqui Trail badge - as a birder, I really liked that one. To make a long story short, the hike had to be completed in 2000 and soon it was December. Many of you know Vince Jewitt. He and I hiked the Cataraqui in December 2000 and it was wonderful. Accomplishment No. 2! And back to golf again…

The end of 2004 I had played enough golf. In April 2005 Shawn Hutchinson invited me along as she and Don Grant did their pre-hike for a section of the 2005 Rideau Trail End-to-End. It was a beautiful day. I did the 2005 End-to-End as scheduled, again. Accomplishment No. 3! Hiking is fun! Chatter about the Frontenac Challenge ended with Shawn and I periodically reaffirming our commitment to do it in 2006.

A bum right knee kept my 2006 hiking to a minimum. But I so wanted to be ready for The Challenge. Shawn had time constraints and wanted to get the hike finished in September. I wondered how I could do two or more of these hikes in a week. Well, we’d find out.

Saturday, September 02, 2006, the show was on the road... The first scheduled hike was Tetsmine and Gibson. There were 15 of us, 12 from Kingston and 3 from Ottawa. We started around 9:30 AM and although we didn't see the sun, it was a very pleasant day for the most part. About 3:30 we had a small shower. It seemed rather fall-like with a few red leaves. Bet it would be gorgeous in a couple of weeks. I was pleased with the day, and slept well.

Monday, Labour Day. Arkon, Doe and Arab Lake were next.

It was a cool day to start and I thought it might be slippery or muddy after the Sunday rain, but it wasn't. There was a large group of 25. We started out on Arkon. For the most part it seemed to be either roots or rocks under foot. So everyone had to pick his or her way carefully. We had our lunch at a lookout area, sitting on huge smooth rocks overlooking a small lake. Just the usual very pretty spot. Near the end of the hike we came to a boardwalk and just below the edge was a single, gorgeous, vivid red Cardinal-flower; the closest I had ever been to one.

After that hike we drove down to the Trail Centre, then hiked Doe and Arab Lake Gorge. There were several boardwalks down in a gorge; I imagine in the spring it would be quite something with rushing water. All in all it was a good day and I was a little pooped on the drive home.

Thursday, September 07, we did hike No. 3 – the infamous Slide Lake.

I had heard almost nothing good about the hike except that the scenery was the best. Almost everyone seemed to have a 'horror' story about people having to find their way out in the dark and it was the dread of novices. The park rates the hike as 'very difficult'. The suggested time is 6 - 8 hours and I repeatedly heard the story of one hike that took 13 hours.

Driving in the park we saw two groups of deer, a total of 7. They were not the least bit concerned. Three of us were late arriving so the four from Kingston left us a note. They had gone ahead, nervous about finishing the hike in daylight. We got under way about 8:35. We stopped at Mink Lake Lookout for a breather around 10:30 and were just getting ready to leave when the four others came puffing up the hillside. Somehow they had missed a turn and we had passed them. And we spotted a toonie-sized turtle up there! It was a long way from the water.

We heard loons and ravens calling during the hike, turkey vultures soaring at and below eye level at one lookout. We flushed about 10 Ruffed Grouse and heard about 10 more. We saw a water snake, a small garter snake, two Great Blue Herons, and a surprisingly large patch of Cardinal-flowers. Ten times more than I had ever seen in my lifetime.

Altogether three people slipped or tripped and fell and one gal twisted her knee. We all stumbled or tripped at some time during the day. We did a fair amount of climbing over boulders, and lots of 'bridges', some boardwalks, but more often they were trees that had been split in half with the cut side up. A couple of places just had logs thrown down - that might be insufficient in the spring.

At 3 PM we were well into the last leg of the loop. The terrain was more forgiving and we left our Kingston friends, as they were happy to continue on at a bit slower pace. When finished, we still had a two-hour drive. We finished the hike in a good 8 hours, very pleased with our day. It was still daylight when Shawn and I arrived home. As a reward I had a dish of vanilla ice cream topped with crumbled chocolate cookies. I'll be happy to do both again.

Sunday, September 10 we checked off another one – Big Salmon. It was a cakewalk compared to Thursday's hike. Five of us met at a full Salmon Lake parking lot and finally got under way about 10 to 10. It wasn't long before we were warmed up. We headed for campsite 5. We saw as many people on the trail that day than we saw all last summer on the End-to-End. Fair-weather hikers?

Most of the day we walked in the woods with dappled sunlight on its floor. It actually made for pleasant walking, but sometimes depth perception was compromised. We didn't see any exciting wildlife. Saw a couple of deer on our drive in the park, as usual. A rustling amongst the leaves would mean a chipmunk was scurrying off to one side of the trail or the other. But we did spot a very large spider. It was dark and hairy with highlights of orange. If you placed it on top of a toonie, the feet would hang well over the edges.

We had to contend with the usual roots and some rocks under foot. But we enjoyed a few pleasant open grassy areas and we even walked for a bit on an old road. We were able to relax, look around and not worry about the next step. Large stone gateposts led to other signs of a couple of homesteads – the remains of buildings, wood and stone in three different places. They had a beautiful place to live, but homesteading must have been very difficult. I’m sure hikers are always interested in coming across 'Old Thor' on the side of the trail. For those non-initiated, ‘he’ is an old truck apparently used in road building.

One place on the trail could be a real challenge. It was a steep dirt pitch on our way up to the lookout above campsite 5. It should be very difficult in wet weather. Midway up is a tree about 6 inches in diameter with exposed roots. One wonders how long it can last with hikers using it to heave themselves up the hill or brake themselves on the way down...

We had a lovely spot for lunch. Probably the prettiest so far - on rocks overlooking tree-framed Big Salmon Lake. As we ate we watched four canoes silently leave their weekend campsite below. That would be hard to top except I thought watching two loons diving for their lunch might. Wonderful!

Hike no. 5 - Saturday, Sept 16/06 - Little Salmon, Little Clear and Hemlock We gathered it wasn’t difficult, just long – again! But what a beautiful day for a hike! A perfect fall day!

It is just that it had to start so early. Sixteen of us started off at 9 AM. Because of the rain on Wednesday and Thursday, this hike was the dampest under foot that we have had. We had dirty pant legs before we even reached the trail. One must marvel at the leadership skill that gets a gang to cover 30 kms in 6 hours with only the odd whimper. That included two 15-minute lunch breaks. Yes, thanks to Bill M. we were home early. So while we expected it to be a long day, it was more like a tough day because of the speed. I was pooped when I got home.

We hiked mainly in the woods. We had the odd clearing. Every once in awhile we would get up into the sunlight. Down in the 'dark', the trees could be huge and when we came up into the open areas, the trees were much more like saplings. The flower season was very much on the decline with the Goldenrod season almost past. I can't believe I missed it.

Well, we had our share of roots, rocks and up and downs. One particular down for me was very quick. We were just coming out into a clearing, near a boardwalk. I hit a root knocking my right boot over onto the very inside edge of my left boot heel. So when I needed to use my left foot to catch myself, it wasn't available and down I went. I ended on my left side. A little further to the left would have me sliding down a bit of an incline. It happens so quickly. A couple of others went down during the day, too.

Part of the hike was in the Moulton Gorge. There was a short section with lots of rocks. The walls were rock. Between the steep sides, beside the trail, and under foot, were a variety of boulder sizes, including at least one the size of a truck. Lots of fresh green mosses brightened them. I don't know how many ridges we crossed today, but I was starting to lament about the ups and downs. Always seems to be more and longer ups than downs.

We saw our share of mushrooms today. Someone said the mushrooms on one downed tree looked like turkey’s tail and I could easily see why they had that name. On another tree were some very pretty pale blue ones trimmed with tan. First they reminded me of curved awnings over doorways and then I thought they looked similar to the grips on rock climbing walls, but going up the tree instead.

We saw one deer soon after starting and again as we returned. It was at the edge of the trail and only a few yards ahead. We saw a six-inch turtle sunning on a log not far from the beaver dam that we were crossing, but the light was shining so that we couldn't tell what kind. While we were looking at it briefly, a water snake three to four feet long, swam by the turtle's log. I missed another turtle, a garter snake and a Praying Mantis. But as hard as the hike was, it was a very good day.

Sunday, September 24 - Well, it was over. Three of us finished the 2006 Frontenac Challenge with the Cedar Lake loop.

Most of the 15 hikers started with uncertainty about the weather. I had checked the Weather Channel a couple of times and was reasonably confident that we would be okay at the Park. It was damp in Ottawa, but the sun came out within five minutes of starting out. It was quite mild, but pretty windy. The leaves were starting to turn, and the wind was bringing some of them down.

We were all surprised at how dry we were under foot. Everyone had expected more muddy conditions. The trails now had a layer more of leaves and needles and it was a bit slippery in places. Two Kingston gals can attest to that. One behind me slipped on a damp rock and went down with a thud. And not long after, the gal in front of me slipped when she stepped on to one of the 'tree' bridges. She went down hard. I missed seeing it because I was picking my way down a bit of a slope.

Three of us missed seeing a deer, but I happened to spot a porcupine. We had paused to wait for the group behind and it crossed the trail between us. Looking neither right nor left, just moved slowly into the woods.

There was a pile of rocks at one end of a boardwalk and on it was a Leopard Frog. Didn't seemed bothered us by either. Oh! Once I stepped onto a mound of short grass to the side of the trail and in doing so, I barely missed a garter snake. It obviously had moved because of the hiker in front of me. I don't think I stepped on it; I hope not. Not sure which of us was the more startled.

But the best were two Praying Mantis, one green and one brown, sharing their rock with us at lunchtime. It was their lunch too, for the rock was rather busy with crickets. One didn't make it - a spider was dragging away part of the carcass. I am still somewhat confused about Mantis’ colouring. Apparently some are just green and some are just brown, but they can also be both green and brown. They can rotate their heads and often, yes, do eat their mates - not always. I want to know how one can tell the difference between male and female.

Ahh, I should mention that last half hour - it showered. It was over by the time we reached the parking lot so there was no problem in toasting the end of the hike with Margarita Ice, courtesy of Shawn. I picked up my treat in Newboro: a large Pralines n' Cream in a waffle cone. Hmmm. Good.

Thank you to everyone I hiked with. I wouldn’t be doing it alone. What next? Well, I'm doing Slide again on Wednesday (Sept 27) with two gals from Kingston. The weather should be terrific!

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Discounts

Members in good standing of the Friends can enjoy a discount of 10% off regular price merchandise (except canoes, kayaks and MEC price-matched items) at The Peak Experience. The Peak Experience is Kingston's only locally owned outdoor store and is located at 62 Brock Street and 795 Gardiners Road at Taylor Kidd. Present your Friends membsership card with photo identification at your next visit to the Peak Experience.

Your membership with the Friends also entitles you to a 15% discount at Novel Idea, a Kingston owned bookstore located at 156 Princess Street.

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