Tales of the Eighth Street Trails

As I sit on a log by the Beaver pond loop of the Rocky Inlet snowshoe trail, my mind goes back to the strange winter of warm temperatures and little snow. With those conditions, we were unable to participate in most outdoor activities. In the past, these trails were alive with skiers and hikers, but few ventured out this year.

But some were not deterred. For example, the “Wild Women” spent time, on occasion, walking all day on the trails, stopping only to eat. They endured tripping over stumps, roots and rocks. These are the ladies who take part in most outdoor activities. They ski at night. When the wolves howl, they howl back, letting those animals know that this territory doesn’t belong to them.

Talking about unusual behaviours reminds me of an incident several years ago. I volunteered to direct skiers at a high school competition, so they wouldn’t take a wrong trail.

At the end of the competition, I prepared to head back to the chalet. As I picked up some signs, I looked up. Three girls in bikinis flew by. As they passed by, one shouted, “We’re just cooling off!”

You never know what to expect when you’re on these trails.

Enough about Rocky Inlet. Time to reminisce about the 8th Street Trails. Much has been written about them, so I’ll go back to the beginning, when only a snowshoe trail existed. I wound easterly from the road, next to Rainycrest. It travelled through the bush, which consisted of alder, willow and poplar trees. It passed by two deer stands and then turned north into the muskeg, kept going across an open spruce and entered a group of black spruce trees which was later called Apple Cider Grove. It kept going until it returned to the starting point.

After it was brushed, it became the walking trail. Later, more trails were added.

The snowmobile and ski trails also started out where the walking trail began.

The snowmobile and ski trails also started out where the walking trail began. The snowmobile trail was moved to its present location later.

One feature stands out in the bush, through which the trail runs. Most of the poplar (trembling aspen) trees are covered with black patches. On some trees, the trunks are broken off. They have been infected with hypoxylon canker. This disease makes a wound in the bark of the tree, allowing wood-rotting fungi to enter.

After many years, the disease may girdle part of the trunk. The tree is weak and may break off.

Note, the 8th Street Trails are used mainly in the winter, because the soil is moist. Besides, in warm weather, creatures that kill more humans than any other predator live in the woods.