Indian River is a minor watercourse that runs slow and deep out into the farmland of Lanark County, but has its origins in springs and lakes in hilly country. We settled down for lunch in woods beside the last stretch of rushing water above miles and miles of marshy meanders. The steep valley sides seem to have protected the place from human disturbance. Big Sugar Maples and White Cedars stood close along the banks, and like the boulders, were green with thick mosses and liverworts.
Half the group had already crossed by rock-hopping or wading when Rob decided to take the rest across over a tangled log jam. From there we explored upstream, reaching a point where the tumbling water ran almost out of sight through a field of boulders. We found several dead Green Frogs, the bedraggled remains of a small bird, and one live Bull Frog. This species is so poorly adapted to low temperatures that, even at plus 10ºC, this big one could only ponderously clamber out of reach among the rocks.
Going back, we had to pass through a managed Red Pine plantation on the high ground above. Selective logging had been carried out earlier this year, leaving the ground ribbed with deeply compacted skidder trails every 30 feet or so, and wood-cutting waste in every direction. Pioneer rock piles showed that this ground had been plowed; charred stumps of the original forest showed that it hadn’t been fertile enough to be worth completely clearing. It must have been planted to pines 50 years ago.