The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Oak Ridges Trail Guidebook

Something a little different today; a "book" review of sorts.  It's been pretty quiet in the Great White North lately, so finding something to write about is a challenge.  

Oak Ridges Moraine is in Ontario.  It's a protected green space just north of Toronto.  It's 1,900 square kilometres (730 sq mi)  and runs from Caledon to Rice Lake.  Parts of it are under consideration to become developed, but that's not what this is about.  It has lakes and streams and many species which are listed as endangered.  Relics of historical significance relative to native peoples are found regularly.  Formed by glacial movement, the moraine is a supplier of water for many communities.

The Oak Ridges Trail Guidebook was published by the Oak Ridges Trail Association.  Edition 7 is the most recent, released Spring 2019, and costs about $50.  My copy is a second edition that I found at a yard sale.  That doesn't mean it isn't worth $50, especially if you are an avid hiker, it just means that for Cryptozoological purposes and older edition will also work.  Some local libraries in Ontario also have copies.

Fieldwork in this field requires more than just pitching a tent and buying a trailcam. If you are heading into a location that is largely uninhabited, you are definitely going to need a trail guide.  This one offers a good overview of what the Oak Ridges Moraine is, trail information, and addresses for local museums.

The gem of this is its several hiking maps.  Complete with topographical elevation lines, this is a must have for entering the Moraine on foot.  My copy has seven maps.  One is a "key map" that shows the whole moraine, and the other six are very easy to read maps of different areas.  Good caveats are also included; don't go alone, it's wet in spring, stay on the trails so you don't get charged with trespassing.

Already-discovered species who live here include the red tail hawk, red shouldered hawk, brook trout and bluebirds.  Other, less well documented species are also known to live there.  While not numerous, sasquatch sightings are ongoing, and what's called the Markham Monster" has been seen at least twice.  Both are upright, larger than human, and probably living off the bounty of the natural environment.  Reports of a hooved being on a native reserve were also happening here.

The moraine is basically surrounded by residences.    This makes fieldwork a little difficult.  First, you're not allowed to camp on the moraine, so you'll have to find something nearby or ask a resident if you can stay overnight in their back yard. Second, humans mean garbage, so it may be tempting for these creatures to forage in that source.  This makes those a little more strongly influenced by humanity and therefore may change behavior significantly.  Finally, it is a popular place.  You are likely to come across many hikers, or they you, which can make fieldwork challenging.

I picked up this book on a whim, and I am glad I did.  I recommend anyone doing fieldwork find a trail guide for the area.  You will learn more than just where the trails are.

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