Sunday, July 21, 2024

Consider Visiting the Hibou Conservation Area this Family Day Weekend

T.S. Giilck

hibou trail270A recently re-discovered trail on the shores of Owen Sound Bay has turned into a favourite.

It had been 10 or 12 years since I had spent much time in the winter at Hibou Conservation Area, but recently I was reminded of why I liked it, especially the Point Trail.

It was a cold, clear day, the kind that skiers like to call ‘Bluebird Days’. Our dark, drab, gloomy, even miserable winter this year hadn’t offered many such days, and it beckoned irresistibly on what was supposed to be a work afternoon.

As I parked at the main lot, two bald eagles soaring in the sparkling, glistening sunshine lent their approval to the venture, as if they were waiting impatiently for me to jump on the trail. Perhaps they were trying to tell me to keep moving, as the majestic birds are certainly not above scavenging up a free meal if it’s available.

I decided to try the longer main trail first. The path wends its way through a wetland area to the east, forming a loop about 2.2 kilometres long.

The conditions on this trail were so-so, with many wet spots cropping up. In one spot, I needed to wade through shin-deep water, which is not one of my favourite things to do on snowshoes.

Coming off it an hour or so later, I turned my attention to the Point Trail across the road, which had been my intention all along. This trail is much shorter than the main trail, but far more scenic, from its pockets of heavy coniferous forest to the various lookouts along the bay.

I stopped for a few minutes to watch the bird feeders, which were attracting a varied clientele from black-capped chickadees to northern cardinals. Even some snow buntings were in the area, their vaguely metallic calls echoing in the distance.

Within 200 metres, more wildlife announced itself, as numerous deer prints began to appear. Obviously, the area was hosting a deer yard, with most of the tracks leading out of the heavy coniferous area to the shore of the bay and then returning.

The short trails through some of the dense cedar and conifers were absolutely magnificent, draped in garlands of fresh snow. Even the bright sunlight wasn’t sufficient to penetrate fully into these winter depths, which belonged to one of those traditional Christmas card scenes beloved by so many.

I couldn’t resist firing off some photos via social media and texts to a few friends who I knew would appreciate the scenery.

“I’m so jealous,” one quickly wrote back.

I laughed out loud to myself, and continued to trek down some of the side trails, which were fun diversions, if a little short and not very challenging. The charm of the perfect winter weather more than made up for those minor ‘deficiencies’, though.

Within an hour or so I had covered all of the trails in the immediate area, and I returned for another look at the bird feeders, which were still attracting a varied clientele.

Feeling well-pleased with myself, I headed for the parking lot, just as the clouds swept back in, obscuring the sun and sweeping gloomy weather back in as it did.

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