Tag Archives: Wolf’s Milk Slime

The Credit River – Georgetown

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The section of the Credit River north of Georgetown is one of my favourite places to hike and I’ve returned here a few times over the past thirty years. We typically park on Maple Avenue near River Drive. Once you cross the Credit River on the bridge you can follow the Credit Valley Footpath north to Terra Cotta or south to the Barber Dynamo. This is a side trail to the Bruce Trail and is marked with blue blazes.

The first point of interest is the site of the Barber Paper Mills. These historic Victorian era industrial buildings have sat vacant for over four decades. Several proposals for redevelopment and preservation have been left unfulfilled over the years and the fate of one of Heritage Canada’s 2015 top 10 most endangered sites remains unknown.

The roof on the former paper rolling building, built in 1852, is deteriorating quickly. When we released the feature story Barber Paper Mills in June of 2015 the roof was largely intact on the river side. The side of the roof facing the road was already collapsing at that time. An updated picture was featured in March of 2018 in our story Credit Valley Footpath at which time there were two small holes in the roof on the side facing the river. Today, the roof is collapsing and at least one beam has fallen in as well. Nature is relentless.

The dam that served the Barber Paper mills was replaced with a concrete one that still spans the river below the River Drive bridge. We initially followed the small trail close to the river but it doesn’t go very far past the remains of the old paper mill. You are forced to return to the formal trail and make your way into the forest that lines the sides of the ravine.

The trail follows the river and climbs the ravine three times between the road and the Barber Dynamo. There is one section that climbs a few steps and then follows the root system of the trees along the edge of the ravine. That part of the trail could be challenging in wet or snowy conditions.

The DeKay’s Snake is also known simply as a Brown Snake and has two distinct rows of black black spots running down each side of the back. With the colder weather coming on we may not see anymore snakes this year, but we’re always watching. I should have been watching a little closer because I almost stepped on this one before it slithered off the trail.

The Common Earthball is also known as Pigskin Poison Puffball. However, unlike other puffballs, earthballs do not have a single opening at the top but rather split open to release their spores.

The Grand Trunk Railway Bridge was built in 1855 and earned the nick-name the Iron Bridge. It crosses the 2000 foot wide river valley using 8 spans of 96 feet each and extensive berms on either side. The bridge rises 115 feet above the river. It was expanded in 2010 to accommodate a double track as part of GO Transit’s expansion of services.  Provision has been made for a third track in the future. 

Part of the trail runs through a forest of red oak trees. The weight of nuts or fruit in a forest is known as its “mast” and this year would be known as a big mast year because of the high volume of acorns produced. To have a big mast requires three factors, the first of which is sufficient rain in the fall to prepare the tree for a good spring flowering. Secondly, there can’t be a frost during the week that the female flowers are open in the spring. Lastly, once the acorns are growing they need to avoid summer droughts that can cause fungal problems. The acorns were dropping almost continually in the forest as we passed through, making it the first time we had to hike in acorn rain.

Positive identification of mushrooms can be difficult sometimes and these bright yellow mushrooms were not featured in my field guide or clearly singled out on line. The scales on the caps may indicate that they are poisonous. We don’t harvest mushrooms on our hikes, and recommend you don’t either, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference if they are edible or not.

The Barber Dynamo is one of our favourite places to visit in the GTA and we have previously told the story of the building. Each time we take a new set of pictures there is some level of deterioration in the old stone building. Unfortunately it looks like we will eventually lose what remains of the first electrical generating plant to transmit power over wires for the operation of a mill. More details can be found in our feature story on the history of the Barber Dynamo.

The walls are starting to sag in various places and will collapse if steps are not taken to support them, perhaps in a manner similar to the work being done at Goldie Mill in Guelph.

Wolf’s Milk Slime is also known as Toothpaste Slime because of the consistency it has when it first comes out. If the balls are punctured before the spores are ready they will ooze a pink slime. Wolf’s Milk Slime grows between June and November on well rotted logs.

The Credit Valley Footpath continues out to the Tenth Line which could provide a less strenuous hike should you wish to visit the Dynamo. Perhaps we’ll use that end of the trail in the future as we continue to keep an eye on this heritage site over the coming years.

Google Maps Link : Barber Paper Mill

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Bruce Trail – Hockley Valley

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Bruce Trail and several side trails wind their way through Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Preserve.  We decided to investigate using two cars.  One was parked at the Bruce Trail lot on Hockley Valley Road.  The second car was left on Dunby Road in another official Bruce Trail parking location.

The trail that leads south from Dunby Road is restrained by fences on both sides.  Along these fences there is extensive Virginia Creeper growing.  It is a member of the grape family but the Greek name for the plant means “Virgin Ivy” from which the name Virginia Creeper is derived.  It can reach heights of up to 30 metres climbing by the use of sticky tendrils sometimes completely covering the tree that is supporting it.  It is one of the first plants to start showing red leaves in the fall.

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Hockley Valley Resort was a small operation in 1985 when it was purchased by the Adamo Family.  Under their management the 28 room hotel was transformed into a world class resort, spa and ski facility.  There are 15 runs and from the start of the trail we had a good look across the valley at them.  As we returned to the car at the end of the hike we found that we had made it almost all the way to the resort.  Some of the ski runs can be seen in the picture below.

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The Gem-Studded Puffball has a a dual layer of spines on the fruit body, one shorter and one longer.  The longer spines detach easily leaving a scar on the surface of the mushroom.  The base is often elongated and sometimes looks like a stalk.  This little fungus looks kind of scary but is said to be a choice edible.  Like any puffball there are look-a-likes that are not edible.  The test is to cut the mushroom in half and ensure the flesh inside is undifferentiated and that there is no sign of gills.

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Yellow Tuning Forks grow from August until November and have a gelatinous texture unlike the brittle corals that look similar.  These jelly fungi are also known as yellow false coral and grow on primarily on pine logs.  They can reach up to 10 centimetres in height which is tall for a slime mushroom.  They can be eaten but their texture and lack of taste make them unattractive for foragers.

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Northern Tooth Fungus grows primarily on sugar maples.  It gets into the heart of the tree and rots it from within.  These shelf fungus grow annually until the tree is hollowed out and is blown over in a strong wind.  These polypores have long tubes underneath that disperse the spores.

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Dead Man’s Fingers has to be one of the most unusual names for a mushroom.  Sometimes they grow in small clusters which look like a hand reaching up through the ground.  They grow on stumps of maple and beech trees and are whitish in the spring becoming hard and black as the summer progresses.

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Coho Salmon are native to the Pacific Ocean but have been introduced to Ontario and are now naturalized here. When the Europeans arrived in Ontario the salmon crowded the rivers every year.  They spend most of the year in the cold waters of the Great Lakes and return to the rivers and tributaries every year to spawn.  It didn’t take long to destroy the habitats with pollution and to block the spawning routes with mill dams.  The salmon population was decimated and in 1969 it was decided to stock Lake Ontario with Coho Salmon.  Since then all the Great Lakes have been stocked with Salmon and each fall they can be seen fighting their way through the shallow waters of the streams to reach their spawning areas.

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The trail winds through the woods following a couple of ravines.  There are several little bridges that it uses to cross tributaries of the Nottawasaga River.  The largest one carries the water that has come over Cannings Falls which we didn’t visit because it is on private land.

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Wolf’s Milk Slime is similar to a small puffball in the method of spore release.  They will develop a small hole in the top for the distribution of their spores when they are ready.  When this slime first appears it has the consistency of paste but it becomes powdery as the spores mature.  It is also sometimes called Toothpaste Slime.

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Nearly 2 kilometres from Hockley Valley Road are the remains of a 1939 Chevy Sedan that are being slowly disassembled and removed.  The property belonged to Dennis Nevett who owned and farmed it until 1974 when he sold it to the government for the creation of the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Preserve.  The family used the sedan from about 1951 until 1959 when it died.  Over the next year or two it was towed to the back corner of one of the fields and left to rust away.

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Pretty much everything that can be removed has already been stripped off of the car.

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The Jeju Olle walking trail is the most popular hiking trail in the country of South Korea.  It has over 200 kilomtres of trails that work their way around an island up to the brim of an extinct volcano.  In September of 2011 a section of the Bruce Trail in Hockley Valley was twinned with the Jeju Olle Trail.  To mark the start of the twinned section there is a blue pony which is the marking system used on the Korean Trail.

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This trail promises to be very beautiful in the next few weeks when the fall colours are at their best.

Google Maps Link: Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Preserve

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