Exploring the Eramosa Karst

I have to say that the most recent visit to Eramosa Karst Conservation Area in Stoney Creek was unplanned, but I found it an interesting place.  I knew next to nothing about karsts before coming here.

I guess before I go on about some of the karst features like caves, sinking streams and dry valleys, I might as well tell you that I did not enter any one of them.  

inviting bridge
I was surprised that all of the caves were in the ground.  When I saw the map at the entrance to the conservation site, it indicated 'caves' and so I expected to be able to stand up into them, not crawl or climb down to them.  The karsts were very shallow and seemed tiny from up top, so I was surprised to learned that Eramosa has the 10th longest cave in Ontario, which is something like 335 metres! 

So what is a karst? Think of a soluble bedrock that acts like a sponge absorbing the rain (rain that contains carbonic acid, which gets picked up from the carbon dioxide in the ground...come on you remember how the rain cycle works right?) and over thousands of years, the bedrock starts becoming porous as it dissolves creating crevices, creeks, and caves.  Of course eventually when the ground above gets wet from heavy rains, it will start flowing and sometimes flooding into these cracks and crevices which will add to the development of sinking streams and at the same time abandon existing creeks elsewhere creating dry valleys then.  It's really quite fascinating, but like biology, geology is not my thing either.
Potruff Spring

This place tries it's best to offer the learning experience from the karst and some really lovely trails making it a great hike even if you aren't that keen about exploring underground.  About a half hour into my trek and I see a posting on 'Coyotes in our Conservation Area'  then suddenly hiding in an underground cave didn't seem like such a bad idea.

Seriously, recent reports in the news have been to make the public aware of sighting of coyotes in the Ermosa Karst, and to keep your pets close to you as the coyotes might find them a threat to their territory.  

part of nexus cave
They were spotted on the yellow trail, a trail to which I was currently on...as the trail winded around trees and cut through paths I was very aware after that.  Suddenly a guy shows up with his husky...but I don't see the guy first, just his dog and for a second its me and him and I think my skin was there too...the guy thought it was funny.  Wildlife is and should be safe from people and their pets, so I just as soon keep my distance. 

wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes
Further on the yellow trail I saw a sign tacked to a tree or a post, which advertised purchasing a "Nature Rewards" card giving you access to many of Hamilton's popular sites at a low annual fee.  The money would go to support the maintenance of the conservation areas in Hamilton.  I thought it was a good concept and did some research on my own.  I took some initiative on this project for Toronto and look forward to speaking with them further about the possibility of implementing the same program for a city of a larger scale, and really quite surprised it hasn't been done already.  Will keep you posted if anything comes of it.

Happy to see the sky was clearing up nicely by the time I left the park.