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Date: 7/1/2020
Subject: June Newsletter
From: Lambton Outdoor Club

Lambton Outdoor Club
June 2020 e-Newsletter

Ready… Set… Go (with caution)

A Message from your Club President

Now that Ontario has permitted Lambton County residents to enter Phase 2 of the Province’s schedule for gradual relaxion of restrictions associated with Covid-19 pandemic, many of you are likely eager to participate once again in our various outdoor activities.

Council has met (virtually) on several occasions over the past month or so to discuss various options to reintroduce our events with due consideration to minimizing any risk of members being potentially infected with the Corona virus. During our very recent meeting, Council has approved the following procedure for members to strictly follow for all LOC-sanctioned events until further notice.

While members are obviously free to hike, bike or paddle at any time on their own or informally with family or friends, we would hope that all appropriate Covid-19 precautions would be followed. However, only LOC-sanctioned events authorized by the respective committee chairs and supervised by a responsible leader will appear and be promoted on the LOC website.

Each of the event committee chairpersons have been requested to schedule up to three activities on a trial basis during July after which Council will assess to what extent participants have complied with the protocol guidelines before moving forward. In that regard, here is the procedure which members must follow in order to register for an event.

First of all, you will notice a new instruction box entitled “LOC Covid-19 Guidelines” at the top of the home page when logging into the LOC website. By clicking on this box, you will be taken to a page which summarizes many of the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” which are generally a reminder of many of the rules and precautions which you should already be familiar (e.g. cleaning hands, physical distancing, etc.). However, also included are many activity specific rules for hiking, cycling and paddling participants. These Guidelines can also be found on the LOC website under Documents/Members Only. Please carefully read these Guidelines and ideally make a printed copy to refer to when planning to register for any LOC activities.

Within these Guidelines, you should pay particular attention to the link for the COVID-19 Self-Assessment tool (provided by the Province) which all participants MUST complete online within 24 hours before the start of their registered event. Upon completion of this self-assessment, you will be advised to either go get tested, stay home and isolate, choose to stay home or risk participation if in a vulnerable group (e.g. over age 70), or freely participate in the activity.

Each LOC-sanctioned event will be limited to 10 members who MUST have registered in advance. Only pre-registered members can attend. No ‘drop-ins’ or guests will be allowed. Upon registering, the Guidelines will appear for review and agreement by each participant before being able to continue the process. The last step to complete the event registration is to read and agree to the Covid-19 event-specific Waiver in which each participant assumes all risks associated with both the event and Covid-19, as well as confirms his/her fitness and skill level required to safely participate.

Upon arriving at the pre-registered event, the event leader will review the printed registration list, ask all the typical questions (e.g. anyone experienced with first aid, etc.), remind about social distancing requirements, confirm that each participant has completed the Covid-19 Self-Assessment online tool within the last 24 hours, and is comfortable proceeding with the outdoor activity. Upon completion of each activity, the event leader will prepare and print an attendance report in the hopefully unlikely need for the Club to initiate Covid-19 contact tracing should a participant later show symptoms of the disease.

Of course, we all hope that the current unfortunate pandemic problem will be resolved in the not too-distant future. But in the meantime, Council will continue to monitor the situation and communicate as appropriate to all our members. In the meantime, we thank you all for your patience and understanding as well as your compliance with our new Guidelines.

Hope to see you all out there again!

 Les McDermott

Pedaling and Paddling in the Pinery, without People

Nico said “Go!” and go we did.  Everything Nico said about the pleasures to be had in a Pinery without people was true.  It was wonderful!  

The trails at the Pinery are always pleasant and well maintained.  With nobody there you can meander about and absorb the nuances of nature without distraction.  The sounds are the sounds of nature. And was it my imagination or did I really see more wildlife?  It was certainly the first time I had seen a turkey there, and it was a big one.  Were the flowers really brighter?  Perhaps less dusted by the presence of many feet?  There were an abundance of them.  At times the forest floor seemed awash in a cloud of columbine.

The roads between trails were almost completely free of engine noise, no engine smell, no constantly checking to make sure everyone is aware of road hazards because the road hazards stayed home.  Then there was the beach; miles and miles of beach and not another body to be seen.  On a hot sunny day one might even be tempted to jump out of their bike gear and into the lake.  Yup.  Brr.  Still very cold.

On the day we (Cynthia McNeil and Sharon and Dave Crowe) went to create a ride that could be shared with Outdoor Club members we knew that Nico was also planning to go, to take his kayak for a spin on the Old Ausable Channel.  It never occurred to us when we took a little side trip down the canoe launch road he and Barb Auger would be there, but there they were happy as clams unloading their kayak.  They were as happily astonished as we were at the unexpected encounter.

Their paddling was as perfect as our pedalling.  The pace was similar with lots of meandering and observing. Physical distancing was not an issue.  They met two canoes and one kayak heading in the opposite direction. With their packed lunch they made it as far as the bridge where the road crosses to the day use areas and back again. They saw lots of painted turtles, a kingfisher, some large fish and a muskrat. The yellow lily pads were starting to bloom. Very few cars were going around the one way road (the road was closed so there shouldn’t have been any) and only two cyclists, so a very peaceful quiet day on the water. When they returned there was another couple getting ready to put in at the dock, so they waited their turn.  While on land sorting out gear to load their truck, a man and his dog chatted with them and was interested in joining the LOC club.

It really was a magical day.  This kind of opportunity to experience paradise can’t possibly last so if you have a chance go for a visit.

Submitted by Sharon Crowe
           Cyclists only, please
Beautiful day to pedal or paddle


Following the declaration of the provincial state of emergency due to the COVID-19 virus the Lambton Outdoor Club suspended all club related outdoor activities. In an effort to keep the membership connected the club subscribed to the Zoom conferencing service. Zoom is an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars. It is supported on IOS, Android and Windows devices.

Beginning on March 10th the club hosted weekly Zoom online conferences featuring travel presentations prepared by club members. To date, member trips to Spain, France, Italy, Newfoundland and Scotland and more have been featured. This presentation series has proven popular with upwards of 50 members in attendance on occasion. Also gaining traction is the weekly "Move It" Series featuring Easy Moves Stretch with Bonnie.

Keep an eye on the club’s website as new online events and challenges are added regularly.

Submitted by Brian St. Pierre

Most of us at home, Sharon zoomed from orbit

                                           Difficult Times

It came like a thief in the night; camouflaged in black to the point of invisibility.  As it creeps its’ way through Wuhan, China , I am smug in my belief that tragedies such as civil conflict, devastating earthquakes, tsunamis and now the corona virus do not happen in my world. However, life changes instantly as the unwelcome and uninvited virus makes its’ way through North America. It has not asked permission: we did not give our consent.
Almost immediately my new normal finds me standing outside the grocery store two meters apart from my fellow humans donning a mask that is fogging my glasses and warming my breath. As I do so my tears sit directly behind my eyes threatening to spill over and expose me at any moment. I remind myself that I come from an ancestry of fishermen who have battled the harshness of the Atlantic and coal miners who have danced daily with death as they entered the bowels of the earth. These thoughts of my East Coast roots aid in controlling the depth of my fear.
I rush through the grocery store like a winning contestant given five minutes to fill my cart. I throw in items without benefit of price knowledge or quality of what I am purchasing. As I approach fellow customers I am unable to look them in the eye as if in doing so someone will spread the deadly virus.
I arrive home and quickly drop my groceries in the mud room now posing as a dedicated quarantine area. I run to the shower as if it will guarantee me sterilization from this life challenging disease. I make a solid decision to learn to shop on-line.
My once exciting life becomes filled with mundane tasks of survival and my wardrobe is reduced to lounge and night pajamas. My frayed nerves can no longer tolerate the death/infection statistics being broadcast by the minute. I make a conscious decision to view videos about acts of kindness, birth announcements, engagement proposals and kids say the darndest things. This allows me to carry on and continue to embrace my East Coast strength.
As time passes, I begin to relax and venture out for daily walks. Approaching fellow walkers, I maneuver my way to the opposite side of the path. The irony is not lost on me that such an action would have been considered ignorant pre-corona virus, however, is now viewed as one of respect. I wave a Queen Victoria like wave as if too much enthusiasm would diminish the seriousness of that which we all now face. I respond to those who congest the space by putting a Kleenex to my mouth and nose. I am once again fascinated by human nature as they suddenly scurry to the opposite side of the trail.
And then, without warning comes the tragic news of the death of twenty-two fellow Nova Scotians. Their attacker also arrives camouflaged in the night. I can no longer hold back my tears. I cry for the victims. I cry with the survivors. I am devastated to learn this has happened in the home of my heart.  I fall to my knees and pray for more peaceful and worry-free days ahead. And I garner strength from fellow East Coasters who I know will hold their heads high and carry on.

Submitted by
Donna Suffield

Making Things Happen
One thing we know for sure is that a strength of the Lambton Outdoor Club is the sharing of experiences.  So what happens when we are forbidden to share space?  We get creative.  Your humble council members got together and brainstormed ideas and shared strategies.  We are happy with the results and hope you are too.

Hikers have been choosing individual routes and getting together by Zoom (we bought a membership) to chat.  That was a great start and proved that it can work.  

Cyclists are in the process of providing details of assorted routes with the intention of posting one a week.  Those who get out and ride the assigned route during the week are invited to a Zoom meeting afterwards to share their experience.  If you have a route you like, please share it with Cycling Chairperson Cynthia McNeil.  If you want a sample of what the first one looked like, click on this link:


For all members we have created The Great June Participation Challenge...which includes a prize for one lucky participant.  Sign up online then walk 50-100 kms, ride 500-1000 kms or paddle for 10-20 hours. All registered participants will be put into a draw for a one year membership extension, with special recognition for the highest number of kilometres/hours per activity.

Get inspired, get out to enjoy the outdoors, and be incredibly grateful for the opportunities we have close to home.  And always stay safe and follow current guidelines provided by health officials to protect everyone.

Submitted by Sharon Crowe

Sunday Ride in May

The siren call of the open road was too hard to resist, and in this curious age three veteran cyclists elected to ride our bikes. Perfectly distanced and with the brisk Nor west winds at our backs we cut though the Suncor Energy Foundation Nature Way passing a bevy of walkers,  paused on the iron bridge to consider the swollen Cull Drain, then cut through Wawanosh Wetlands. Forty years ago, the pond was created to provide fill for Hwy 402, now Phragmites hold sway as an invasive monoculture. Still, the sun shines bright, Red Winged Blackbirds flit and a Blue Heron quizically tilts his head.   Climbing the Blackwell Rd overpass which passes for elevation, the highway is Covidly deserted. Crossing London Line then past the slumbering Retirement Park with its twee, neatly coiffed homes and we are in the countryside.  

Cutting east on Confederation Line past the million-dollar tranche of tractors and equipment at Parkland Farms, the fields are strangely silent this Spring day. Mostly corn stubble with a fresh scattering of emerald winter wheat. A year ago, fields were awash, due to incessant rains. It was a pleasure to ride the traffic free county roads, we rested our bones at Bunyan Cemetery on Brigden side road; there is a peaceful yet somber atmosphere amongst the weather worn memorials to the pioneer families. A repurposed schoolhouse is all that remains of a flourishing community, life has moved away. At Lasalle road we head west, the recently paved surface already pockmarked with winter wear. The spire of a former church shimmers gold in the morning sun. The storied building was home to a patio furniture enterprise after the spiritual community faded, I have a glider purchased there in the last century! Approaching Sarnia we have a dilemma, River road has been closed by the Aamjiwnaang as a preventative, so we cut along Scott Road, past an enterprising caravan selling Bud’s, and I don’t mean the beverage. Further on a sadly dilapidated building is a legacy of Welland Chemicals, which closed over thirty years ago after a labour dispute. After the tranquility of the country, we enter the Industrial corridor. The mineral insulation factory has been mostly demolished, a yard of giraffe like hi reach lifts is corralled for the weekend, an electric motor emits a constant irritating high pitched whine at a pumping station, and the mountains of leaves steam at the compost  site. It is hardly salubrious, but we walk through the Tim’s drive thru in the heart of Chemical valley, and rather self-consciously order lunch, and sit in the parking lot, oblivious to the stream  of  traffic and the stares.

Riding back into Sarnia, I am surprised to find that the venerable Devine St School is partially demolished. A victim of declining enrolment, the site has been derelict for years, and another Seniors complex is planned. Finally we cut down to the river front trail, and Bluewater  therapy begins. The St Clair river is impossibly blue, its serenity calms the soul, and we pause to reflect on its timeless journey, as a lonely fisher in a canoe tries his luck. Others are enjoying the day on two wheels and by foot, but all respect the social conscience that has served us well over the past months. The spring blossom trees are breathtakingly wedding perfect, but we continue along the easy but undefined route to the iconic Bluewater bridge. The turbulent water has a mesmerizing quality, which we enjoy virtually alone. Pedestrian traffic is minimal due to restrictions, but our two wheels mobility allows access, and then on to the beach at Canatara, the Parking lot strangely silent; it is quite surreal. Cycling affords the privilege of observing life at a slower pace. Over the three hours and forty Km we have seen country farms and gritty industry, verdant parks and rushing waters.   Green bud trees and confetti blossom, the south end of town sports an advanced climate zone. It has been an uplifting ride away from the cloistered familiarity of home. Two wheel travel affords the luxury of observing the world in detail, it was a blessing.

Submitted by Mike Tanner

Former church with Golden Spire
Where have all the cars gone?

Hot Off the Press
During this pandemic things are changing faster than we can keep up with. Some of the articles in this issue were written at the outset of the arrival of Covid-19 in our area, and during the time when we were all housebound and unable to do anything unless it involved household members only.
As per article from our President, as Ontario enters 'Stage 2 Reopening' LOC is launching some trial paddling and cycling events for the month of July. A few of the trial events have just been added to the website.
As Les mentioned all events, until further notice, will have limited numbers. At some point we may implement a waiting list capability which we are looking at currently. Until such time, if you decide not to attend an event for which you have registered, please cancel your registration to free up your spot.
Submitted by Chris Richmond
Hike, Paddle, Ride... Smile!

Lambton Outdoor Club | P.O. Box 653 | Sarnia, Ontario, N7T 7J7