As February draws to a close, it's time to change our winter theme to a spring look. This has been a record mild winter with a record small snowfall in Southern Ontario.
What are the implications for hiking this spring?
- Hiking: The trails should be open earlier for spring hiking. Trails could be drier than normal with reduced spring runoff and some creeks will be easier to cross.
- Animals: Some animals like deer and coyotes will be healthy from the reduced snow cover making foraging and travel easier. On the other hand rodents may have suffered from the lack of insulating snow protecting their burrows from the cold. A reduction in rodents means a lack of food for birds of prey. Waterfowl love a winter like this.
- Plants: Some bulbs have been pushing sprouts up since mid February making them vulnerable to a cold snap. Wild flowers and our beloved trilliums should put in an earlier appearance along the trails.
- Waterfalls: The lack of cold and precipitation meant reduced ice build up on waterfalls this year. The small snowfall means reduced spring melt runoff making spring waterfall displays less dramatic than usual.
- Insects: Some insects that are normally killed by the cold may survive. Insects that live underground will suffer the cold due to lack of an insulating snow cover. The lack of snow means spring melt water will be scarce reducing mosquito breeding grounds.
- Trees: The sap is already running but that won't change the March 31 date of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival this year. Some trees may suffer from lack of insulating snow to protect roots. Trees should come into leaf earlier..