January Thaw

Cliff

Right on time, or at least around the same time as last year. Yesterday, I drove home in the pouring rain. It made the snow, especially on the driveway and sidewalks, incredibly slippery, in spite of the warm temperature. When I woke up this morning, it was already 7C. When I went for a walk around 2:00PM, it was 9C. Incredible. I was trying out yet another pair of crampons, which got me down the powerline hill in Whitemud Ravine, but did not stay on my boots along the trails. Fuck. I should have just got the Running Room rubber spike thingies. They worked brilliantly for five or six years, until the the back broke on both last spring.

Cliff 3

It was just beautiful in the woods. The creek is still mostly snow and ice-covered, but around the curve near the hill, it had a glistening layer of slush on the surface. So pretty, especially against the umber soil of the cliff, and the take your breath away blue of the sky.

Whitemud Creek

 

Hawrelak in the Sun

Some dude at Hawrelak

Some dude skating at Hawrelak

Spectacular blue sky walk around Hawrelak Park this afternoon. Beautiful weather continues with bonus sunny skies. They don’t always go together. I always feel that warm winter days are a waste if it’s also cloudy, but I’m probably being too demanding.

Squirrel 2

Some dude in a tree

Squirrel 1

Some dude on a picnic table

Still working on the cramp-on situation. My boots remain unprotected and vulnerable on the ice (which means the rest of my body is too), and there is currently plenty of ice. It’s no surprise I’ve become reliant on those tiny spikes over the last five years. Edmonton seems to have more freeze-thaw episodes in winter, although my journal most likely doesn’t bear that out. I always think something new is happening with the weather or in the river valley, but when I check my journals, inevitably it turns out that nature is actually rather consistent in these parts.

Bergasm 1

Bergasm 1

Berg 2

Bergasm 2

4C/1:30 to 3:00

1,000 Chickadees

Whitemud Ravine in blue

A proper walk, finally, and it was fantastic! So beautiful outside – not quite above zero, but close and the sun was beaming. Maggie is so imprinted on every trail, it seems disloyal to walk without her, but the reality is that she cannot go on long, ravine walks anymore. It’s unfair, but she seemed happy enough to go around the neighbourhood after my long walk. My feet were sore, but a promise is a promise.

Chickadee

Lots of people and dogs on the trails. I walked to Whitemud Ravine (via Westbrook) all the way to the south end of Snow Valley. I was out for about two and a half hours, with frequent stops to take (mostly) blurry photos of chickadees, who seemed strangely attracted to me. I should have brought some seed. I should always bring seed.

The Tufted Blue-Throat

The Tufted Blue-Throat Horntwit

The creek was criss-crossed with footprints, ski grooves, and generalized marks of frolic, proving that people are braver than me. I should give it a try. My new crampons aren’t working that well (in the sense that they don’t stay on my boots), so I might wait until I get a better pair before I go creek-walking.

Sky

All in all, a brilliant walk.

-1C/1:00 to 3:30PM

But Enough About Today

Blue sky

Incredibly gloomy today – the opposite of yesterday’s blue skies and warm temperatures. Started off with fog, remaining heavy and overcast all day. Good enough for a half hour dog walk, but otherwise, kinda depressing. Therefore, a few photos from Wednesday’s delightful wander in Terwilleger off leash. Maggie was really into it.

Maggie of the snow

5C yesterday, -1C today.

Hello Mill Creek

Mill Creek Ravine 2

A deeply restorative (and beautiful) walk in Mill Creek Ravine this afternoon. Still a bit chilly, but the sun on my face made up for the cold. Walked for about an hour along the northern half, with the weirdly green creek snaking along beside me in the woods. Only passed one other soul, and no dogs. A few birds, although I did mistake a squirrel for a robin. It’s all a blur with these contacts. The golden ass of a squirrel – from a distance – could easily be mistaken for a puffed out red breast.

Mill Creek Ravine 1

The drive over (for an appointment) was slippery, but the trails were packed with fresh snow and not slippery at all. A perfect time to walk. With the melt coming, things are about to turn grey, but the ravine is a gleaming, pristine winterscape.

Mill Creek Ravine 3 Mill Creek Ravine 4

Oh, and I saw a fully decorated Christmas tree. I love you, Mill Creek Ravine.

Mill Creek Christmas Tree

I call it, reflection in a green ball...

I call it, reflection in a green ball…

A sleeping wasp nest

A sleeping wasp nest

A fully awake Pileated Woodpecker

A fully awake Pileated Woodpecker

-11C/12:30 to 1:30PM

Sparkles

 

Sunflower in teh sunA sparkling prelude to what will be a week of walking. Gorgeous, but still too cold…I think…to walk. Settled for some shoveling and a bit of admiring. It’s been christly cold, so I’ve stayed inside for the better part of…um, a month. Terrible. Next week during the warmup, I will be out, out, out.

Even Maggie thought it was pretty, but a bit too cold for a walk

Even Maggie thought it was pretty, but a bit too cold for a walk

-14C