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Friday, May 30, 2014

Niagara Escarpment - Rattlesnake Point

Today we hiked the Conservation Halton park at Rattlesnake Point.  It is located along the Niagara Escarpment.  The ancient history of the escarpment is described in our previous blog entry on Crawford Lake.  Interestingly, while the photo below shows that the escarpment runs northwest from Niagara Falls, in fact, the escarpment extend southeast further downward to the three falls of the Genesee River located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, which we described in our blog entry on Letchner State Park.

The park kiosks point out that the park is the northernmost point of the Carolinian Life Zone, which is characterized primarily by deciduous trees and cedar firs, located in the southern Great Lakes Region.

Much of our hike was along the local section of the Bruce Trail, which follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment (see photo above), from the Niagara Peninsula of Southern Ontario in Queenston, Ontario, on the Niagara River, not far from Niagara Falls, to the northern end of the Bruce Peninsula between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

We drove to the point and walked over to the edge of the escarpment.  We could see west...

... and south toward Mount Nemo:

Rattlesnake Point is used by rock climbers for training purposes.  Here are some ropes attached by carabiners to numbered pitons secured in the rocks.  We chatted with an instructor, who said that Conservation Halton inspects the pitons periodically and certifies that they are secure.  Rock climbers pay a fee and then can hook to any of them to practice climbing.

Rattlesnake Point has several viewpoints.  This is Nelson Lookout, which was constructed in 1964:

From Pinnacle Lookout, we could see part of the rockface of the Niagara Escarpment and beyond that, the valley below:

Here, David inspects the Nassagaweya Canyon Lookout marker:

As you hike along the escarpement, you can see where ice and water have split part of the rocks away from the main shelf.  Sooner or later, the rocks on the left will tumble into the canyon, leaving the rocks on the right as the new cliff face:

We hiked further north along the Bruce Trail, to the Buffalo Craig Lookout, which provided an even broader vista of the valley below:

Periodially, we could hear woodpeckers, but we seldom saw them.  However, halfway along our hike, we found evidence of their work on one poor tree:

As we hiked further toward Crawford Lake, we disturbed two turkey buzzards, who flew up and into a nearby tree.  We've never seen buzzards roosting in a tree, and this was quite interesting. This first photo shows both turkey buzzards flapping their wings and flying to another try in response to two hikers who passed us making too much noise as we tried to photograph the raptors:

One turkey buzzard settled on a limb and was patient enough to let us take its photo:

We reached our turnaround point and celebrated by drinking icy cold lemonade. As we rested, we were soon passed by 30 students on an after school hike. You gotta love the Canadian school system. The trip back to the truck went quickly, not counting the puppy petting stops. We're looking forward to our next outing to the Niagara Escarpment.

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