Moving to Peterborough was a big decision. I had never been here before and knew nobody. I was nervous and approached the decision with a mixture of optimism and caution. The weeks leading up to my move I researched the city and surrounding areas. One place that caught my eye immediately (and that I mentally flagged as "I want to go to there") was Petroglyphs Provincial Park.
It took me nearly three years of living here, but I finally made it to the park!
Petroglyphs Provincial Park is about 45 minutes away from Peterborough (depending on where you're coming from), just north of the shores of Stoney Lake. And it's a beautiful drive as you enter the Canadian shield. It is also quite close to Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park (yet another on my list of parks to visit - hopefully sometime this year). Once you reach Petroglyphs Provincial Park, you turn off the main road onto a gravel road through the woods that must go for a good few kilometres before you reach the visitor's centre. There you are able to walk through a display and watch a short documentary called "The Teaching Rocks" (both of which I recommend doing). The petroglyphs, which are the largest concentration in Canada, are in a second building meant to minimize erosion of the site. It is considered a sacred place. The carvings are believed to have been made by Algonquin people between 900 and 1100. They depict people, animals and culture and are known as Kinomagewapkong, or the teaching rocks, as the elders would use them to teach select younger individuals. I am not a religious person, but I am fascinated by the stories people have used to try to understand and make sense of their world. As I stood there I tried to etch the experience, my thoughts and feelings as I stood over the rocks in my mind to hold onto them for as long as I can.
The petroglyphs are not all that is said to be sacred, the entire site is. The crevasses in the rocks were said to lead to the spirit world. The geology and glacial history of this place have created unique features, carving the rocks and the landscape as a whole on a larger scale.
As for the flora, despite being relatively near to Peterborough, the surficial geology, forest age, tree types, among other factors, are different enough from Peterborough so that the composition of wildflowers differs. Among the many wildflowers at Petroglyphs Provincial Park, I was most excited to see poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) for the very first time.
See my other faves from 2016 here.
News, reflections, notes and other ramblings from the trail by PTBO Flora founder Rachel.