As I mentioned last week, I really fell in love with the Rideau Trail last year. Not only because the trail has taken me through a variety of interesting places, but also because it allows me to learn more about the history of Eastern Ontario.
And after having been through cities, villages, forests, swamps and farm fields, I was surprised when the Rideau Trail brought me to an old mining area.
Located about 20 km southeast of Perth, the Mica Mine Conservation Area is one of many areas in the region that were mined in the 19th century for their mica and apatite deposits. Eastern Ontario was, at the time, one of the world’s leading suppliers of mica. This silver, friable ore was used as an insulating material or to construct heat-resistant windows.
Once extracted from the ground, the mica was transported by boat on the Rideau Canal to Kingston and Ottawa.
Most of the surrounding mica mines were abandoned around 1912, when more profitable deposits were found elsewhere. Nevertheless, the historical importance of these mines is undeniable, since they were among the first mines exploited in Canada.
A few kilometers from the Rideau Trail pass through this unusual place. Holes of various depths can be found along the trail, but most traces of human activities have been erased by time and nature. Another special aspect of the place: the ground sparkles, literally (pieces of mica reflecting sunlight are common along the trail).
After crossing the Mica Mine Conservation Area, the following kilometers of the Rideau Trail seemed almost boring. The trail passes through a few clearings and woodlands and is, in places, rather steep. The landscape looked a bit dull and must be more beautiful when the faded colours of the end of winter give way to the greenery of spring.
But, proof that nature is slowly awakening after the long and cold winter, I saw a snake on the trail.
I hate snakes.
I mean, I really, really hate snakes.
And this one, who probably thought that I was walking a little too close to him, made a quick movement towards me with its mouth wide open. We stared at each other for a few minutes, until I had enough courage to get around it and continue on my way.
I know it was a little harmless snake, BUT I REALLY DON’T LIKE SNAKES, period.
I hiked up to the borders of Murphys Point Provincial Park, looking carefully at the ground in front of me (with the dreadful fear of meeting another snake) and then decided it was time to turn around and walk back to my car. I will explore Murphys Point Provincial Park next time!
My journey on the Rideau Trail:
- Km 1 to Km 5 – Year goal: 150 kilometers on the Rideau Trail
- Km 5 to Km 25 – Along the Ottawa River
- Km 25 to Km 35 – In the wilderness of Stony Swamp
- Km 35 to Km 50 – On the country roads
- Km 50 to Km 80 – Marlborough Forest and its horseflies
- Km 80 to Km 100 – Hello Rideau Canal
- Km 100 to Km 125 – A fall hike in Smiths Falls
- Km 125 to Km 150 – 150 kilometres later
- Km 150 to Km 155 – I’m back, and with a new goal