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A Natural View: Depot Lakes on Thanksgiving Terry Sprague


ive years ago, back in the days when I used to lead interpretive hikes, I seldom scheduled a hike for the Thanksgiving weekend. Few participants would turn out, so it was never worth the effort. Folks had other plans for that weekend. Usually, I had other plans, too. However, I remember one hike that I scheduled for Thanksgiving and I am glad I did. Weather-wise, we hit pay dirt, with a full complement of autumn enthusiasts turning out for this event. The location was Depot Lakes Conservation Area, northwest of Verona. This 1200-hectare (3,000 acres) property is the signature conservation area of Quinte Conservation. It has three interconnecting lakes, stitched together with narrow creeks, rapids, and a small waterfall. It is Canadian Shield country, so the terrain is challenging in places, but offset by towering granite cliffs, strategically placed interior campsites, and breathtaking views. In the fall, the senses are enthused by the fragrance of decaying forest litter, presence of wildlife, and cascading autumn colour. We were on a pilgrimage of sorts, 12 of us celebrating one of the most gorgeous Thanksgiving Sundays in recent memory. The air was perfectly still, the temperature hovering at a comfortable 20 degrees and not a cloud in the sky for this seven-kilometre walk through rugged terrain. To a certain extent, we felt like a group of rejects, seemingly without better plans for Thanksgiving Sunday, but it took only a scan across the sparkling waters of 2nd Depot Lake from atop a high granite escarpment to the tiny islands beyond, dazzled by the reds of autumn, for us to realize what others were missing today and how fortunate we were.

It was sad to see two interior campsites we came upon along the trail vacant as days like this are what many campers dream about in the fall. The waters from Depot Creek cascading over The Falls could be heard clearly long before we reached a canoe portage that skirts this obstacle along this popular canoe route. For some, this was their first visit to Depot Lakes, and they represented a wide range of areas including Carrying Place, Erinsville, Prince Edward County, and even Toronto. As we crossed Rowley’s Rapids, we paused to reflect on an earlier life here, of logging days in the 1850s by the Rathbun Company of Deseronto, and the Irish logging camp cooks who had a cabin here, two bachelor brothers, after whom the rapids got its name. The giant, almost over-sized leaves of Large-leaved Asters padded the edge of the trail throughout the walk, and dark, green fronds of Polypody Fern hugged the edges of granite boulders, accented by club mosses and Reindeer Lichen contrasting sharply with their rich greens and greys. A Pileated Woodpecker broke the silence, and soon we saw him pass by, but only for a few seconds. Chipmunks clucked in the deciduous woods, a sound which some claim suggests fall. Two Garter Snakes were spotted by several in our group, out enjoying the warmth of the day, and a tiny Leopard Frog seemed comatose on a large granite boulder where it likely had been since early morning, trying to recoup its body temperature that it lost during the night. It was hard to believe that just a few hours earlier, everything had been awash with the season’s first major frost, and now sweaters were coming off. It was discouraging to realize that none

Participants on our guided hike enjoy lunch at a vacant campsite along the trail. Photo by Wendy Culmer.

Gorgeous scenery at the mouth of Deport Creek as it empties into 2nd Depot Lake. Photo by Terry Sprague. of us had mushroom savvy, as we found so many along the trail side, some of them flame orange, but remaining unidentified. Others like miniature spiny puffballs were everywhere. It added to the enjoyment and the mystique of the day, as we need a few unsolved mysteries on any hike, to be researched after we get home. Others we came across looked almost like liverworts. For five hours we hiked, seeing no one else until we neared the parking lot. Depot Lakes, with its nine kilometres of trails, is an ideal location for pondering and losing oneself in profound thoughts. And, losing oneself quite literally. The trails loop and reconnect, and we even made a wrong turn at one point, ending up on a historic logging road. It would have returned us to one of the main trails eventually, but at a cost of missing the rapids and our lunch spot high above the Depot Creek. Hike leaders never like to admit they are lost—just momentarily confused. It helped little to announce that I often get turned around in a supermarket. However, we erred by only a few metres and were soon back on the right trail. Birds ahead of us on the trail had the profile of sparrows, but it was hard to tell as more than a dozen kept bouncing from tree to tree. Finally, our binoculars focused on one long enough to determine that these were Fox Sparrows. It was a treat to reacquaint ourselves with these large sparrows, as they do not nest around here, but in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. It is only at this time of the year when they pass through, usually in twos and threes, thinning out in November as they head to their wintering grounds in the southern United States. It was one of the high points for us this day as such large numbers are seldom encountered in one

concentrated spot. By mid-April, we shall see them again, on their spring migration northwards. It was Thanksgiving, and we were surely thankful for the gifts of Nature that were bestowed on us during this hike. The hike reminded us of the importance of preserving these wild places that feed our soul, on not only Thanksgiving but every day of the year. Terry Sprague lives in Prince Edward County and is a retired interpretive naturalist and hike leader. See his website at He can be reached at

A Harvest Of Quilts Saturday, October 26 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Our quilt show will be held at: Trinity United Church 6689 Road 38 Verona, Ontario Entry Fee $5.00 This gives admission to the quilt show, boutique, demonstrations, and local vendor displays. The show focuses on quilts using both traditional and modern methods. The show will feature the works of a local fiber artist, Beth Abbott. There will be refreshments and lunch available for additional costs. Local vendors will have displays offering items for sale. The Trinity Quilters will have a boutique selling a variety of handmade and machine made items. Raffle tickets will be sold on site. The proceeds from this event will be shared among: Trinity United Church, South Frontenac Community Services and the Trinity Quilters (for their ongoing charitable projects).

Mon-Tue 10am-6pm • Wed-Fri 9am-6pm • Sat 9am-noon

Thanksgiving Dinner October 11-12-13 Closed Monday and Tuesday

For more information please contact Angie @ 613-374-3711 or email her at

October / November 2019 • The SCOOP


Profile for The SCOOP

The SCOOP // October / November 2019  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...

The SCOOP // October / November 2019  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...