Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 23

An ancient glacial landscape

A vast continental glacier covered most of Canada for thousands and thousands of years. When it began to melt from this area nearly 10,000 years ago, it left behind huge pieces of ice buried in sand and gravel washing off the glacier.

Esker Lakes sits on the bed of what was a wide glacial river flowing across the glacial ice — at over 250 km it is the longest esker in Ontario. The river helped to bury the blocks of glacial ice, which melted very slowly, keeping their shape.

The depressions, known as kettles filled with water from the melted ice, and are maintained by springs and groundwater. The lakes and wetlands left behind make Esker Lakes an amazing boreal forest lakeland.

Leaving the treed bog, the trail re-enters the forest

The Balsam Fir trees here have bumpy grey bark that is sticky with sap dripping in places. The bumps are blisters with sap inside. The sap can help the tree to defend itself against invaders like wood-chewing beetles — the beetle chews a hole in the bark and gets covered in the sticky goo. The sap later hardens and helps seal the wound in the tree.

Glaciers are dirty things

In the Balsam Fir stand sits a huge boulder. The boulder is more evidence of glaciation. Glaciers are dirty things. Only the newest snow on top is clean and white. The rest of the ice is filled with grit, and gravel and boulders that it picks up as it flows.

This boulder, known as an erratic, may have travelled from hundreds of kilometres north of here (or even further), frozen into the ice of the slowly-moving glacier. When the glacier began to melt around 10,000 years ago, all of the sand, gravel and boulders were deposited onto the bedrock, leaving a hilly landscape that would later be colonized by the forest.

Esker Lakes is a quiet family-oriented park with a full-service campground with:

Electrical campsites (65 of the park’s 103 campsites are electrical)

Two comfort stations with hot showers, flush toilets and laundry facilities

Two sand beaches and a dog beach

Canoe and kayak rentals

Most of the park’s lakes are stocked with trout, and some lakes also have pike and perch. Bird watching is good at Esker Lakes, with many species of forest warblers being a highlight. Several other trails wind through the park’s forests, and portages link many of the park’s lakes, with two backcountry canoe-in sites on the route.

Visit Esker Lakes Provincial Park this summer and take the Lonesome Bog hike!