Two Days, Two Walks

Coyote shit

Just what you think it is….

Where’d I go yesterday? Oh yeah, Whitemud Ravine. The warm weather has returned, so I headed into the woods via the Aspen Gardens entrance. It was an unremarkable remarkable walk, with one exception – everywhere I went, I was preceded by shit. In spite of all the dogs who frequent the ravine, there is very little poop on the trails. And this stuff was fresh. And it wasn’t dog. I think it was coyote, which is a type of dog, but this shit was not like what I routinely collect out of Maggie’s ass, and it was full of berries. Deer don’t poop like that. And there was A LOT of it. Gotta be coyote, or more likely, coyotes. I must have passed 15 little presents on the trail, the multii-coloured berries still whole and glistening in the sun. In another context, these delicately tumbling piles could have been waffle toppings.

Just what you think it is...in context

Just what you think it is…in context

The weird thing is that they were on the trails at all. Coyotes don’t like to make their presence known…usually, so I’m surprised they were loping about in the open. Not just the gravel trails either. I saw piles on the upper paved paths as well. And why was there so much? I will probably never know the answer to this question, so I will have to be content with the fact that even though Maggie was not with me…I was still walking with dogs. I also saw a few pileated woodpeckers, but they were not as fascinating as the shit. (Sorry guys.)

Uncooperative pecker

Uncooperative pecker

Today, I had lunch at the university, and then walked down Saskatchewan Drive to north Mill Creek Ravine. I’d heard there was a lynx sighting (I think it was bobcat), and I wanted to investigate. I didn’t see any cats, but I was attacked by wasps. They’re really aggressive little buggers at the moment, or maybe I just smell like garbage.

I decided to walk on the lower path, which I haven’t done for more than a year. Back when I was ‘discovering’ Mill Creek Ravine, I used to take this path all the time – not having yet branched out to the other paths. After awhile, I rotated between the lower trail, the middle paved path, and the upper path, which I still prefer. The lower trail is much as I remembered it, except the far north end near Connor’s Hill. The area around the bridge is completely flooded, in spite of the lack of rain. Looks relatively recent – the signs are still up, but like every other sign in the river valley, I ignored it. The ground still had moisture in it, but the mud wasn’t wet, just very rutted. The lower branches on either side of the trail were covered in mud, and there was a giant dam of branches and other ravine detritus near the outtake tunnel (or whatever the thing is that takes Mill Creek to the river). Another mystery.

Recently flooded trail

Recently flooded trail

Further up the trail, one more mystery. The steep, foliage-less hill that kids used to bike down has filled in, although the narrow trail is still visible. The ground opposite, which used to be just grass, has also grown over. Where there was no bush, there is now bush. This has to be intentional. That hill is very dangerous. My orifices (all of them) used to clench when I saw some kid at the top of the hill on his bike, the ubiquitous summer gaggle of boys below, egging him on.

Two walks, two days, each with ome inexplicable factor thrown in. The rest of today’s walk was memorable only because the sun was so hot, but I did notice that the river has turned a deep, deep turquoise, as it is want to do in late summer. It was really beautiful.

Turquoise river

Turquoise river

90 minute walk/26C

It’s the Humidity….

Dragonboat racers

Dragonboat racers

My god the humidity. It’s been brutal. Warm, yes, but the humidity is what’s killing us right now. So unusual for Edmonton. I fed and watered Joanne’s cats this morning, and then wandered around Rossdale and Louise McKinney Park. Gross. I mean, the scenery was lovely, and I stumbled upon the dragon boat races, so that was great, but I was soaked by the end of the hour walk (including the walk up to downtown to catch the train.) Supposed to be cooler next week. Yay.

Don't mess with this dragon....

Don’t mess with this dragon….

What? What?

What? What?

As I rounded the corner near the River Queen, I heard the joyful gruntings of a dragon boat drummer. The river valley, in fact, was packed with dragon boat racers, watchers, and others, like me, just out and about on a summer day. Also, one policeman with a rifle – leaning over the railing at the Shaw Centre, just above a dragon mascot at the entrance to Louise McKinney Park. The City of Edmonton is really taking protection of its inflatables seriously these days.

It’s overcast and mosquitoey today. I was gooped up, so the mozzies didn’t bother with me…much…but the clouds, and the grey/orange, smoky light interfered with the picture-taking. It looks dreary, in other words, but it was, other than the humidity, a nice day, in spite of yet another scene of early autumn.

1:30 PM/25C

Grasshoppers, mosquitoes, wasps, oh my…

Birch

A TREMENDOUSLY buggy walk in Whitemud this afternoon. The moment I stopped to take a photograph, my body (mostly my head and face) was aggressively colonized. I love watching the grassphoppers jump out of my way along the paths, but there is just no way to dodge the mozzies. Usually, they only come out at dawn and dusk. Also some other kind of buzzing insect, which I’m pretty sure were wasps, and plenty of them. No stings, but I was glad to get out of the ravine, in spite of the loveliness of the scenery. I kept mussing my hair like I was in a shampoo commercial.

Yellow leaves

What the frack

Sadly, there were parts of the ravine floor populated by an uncomfortable number of yellow leaves. It has been cold, at least in the mornings (10C yesterday), but it does seem a little early for the first signs of autumn. On the other hand, it is mid-August. All in all, a warm, buggy, but rejuvenating walk. About 90 minutes.

Green shadows

Green shadows

25C/3:00pm

Humidity in the Creek

View from Louise McKinney

View from Louise McKinney

…and everywhere else. A hot and humid walk through Louise McKinney and Mill Creek Ravine on Tuesday, on my way to an appointment. In retrospect, probably not a good idea to get sweaty before a meeting, but it did clear the cobwebs, or should I say, drown them.

Plague resistant waders

Plague resistant waders

Maggie in the riverSpotted two people waist deep in the North Saskatchewan River. Weird. Not sure I’d do that. Maggie, on the other hand, is more than willing to dip her lady bits into murky water. The previous day we went to Terwillegar off leash, and she jumped into the river and stayed there for half an hour. We walked up and down the shore, which was much wider than usual because the water level is so low. This was also evident from my view off the Cloverdale footbridge. Seagull island, which is often submerged, was alive with birds. And those people. Wading in the water. Weird.

Heading into Mill Creek Ravine

Heading into Mill Creek Ravine

27C (Tuesday)

Heat n’ Ducks

Green leaf

Hot, muggy, sweat-drenched two-hour walk in Whitemud Creek. It was beautiful, but even at 10:30 am, most of the birds had buggered off, or were resting quietly somewhere. It was a very ‘still’ walk. Every so often, I’d hear the hum of a bee, but other than my fellow ravine enjoyists, it was dead calm. Probably the heat. I did spot that pileated ‘couple’ from last week, but they were pecking on the forest floor, and not easily photographed.

Fungus Tree

Fungus Tree

Took Maggie for a constitutional through the park this morning, and then set off by myself in the full glare of the sun. Tomorrow, I will try to go a little earlier. I don’t mind the heat…some days…but the humidity was a bit much. We’re in the middle of a heat wave, so either I deal with it, or I hide out in the basement. By the end of my walk, I was fantasizing about cheese sandwiches and a cold shower. I accomplished both within half an hour of my return. The creek is a fetid dark brown at the moment. Or should I say, burnt umber? I don’t think I would have wanted Maggie to take a swim, but the ducks didn’t seem to mind. Lush. Green. Hot. A very summery, summer walk.

Why so brown?

Why so brown?

Pond Ducks

Pond Ducks

Ducks 2 Ducks 3 Ducks 4

12:40/26C

LAST Sunday

Pileated 1

Why do I keep writing these things after the fact? In this case, a week after? Not sure. It’s been a long couple of weeks. Hurt my back changing the laundry(!), and did not walk, or do anything, for three days. I couldn’t bend over to tie my runners, so that punked out any outdoor activity. Rest, ibuprofen, and binge-watching True Detective eased the pain. The whole thing was upsetting. Previous back injuries were not age-related. Upper back pain (in concert with sharp pains in the ass) caused by work stress can happen at any age. Sleeping on the wrong surface (like a wine-stained floor) is something I did in my youth. Bending over…and throwing my back into an extremely painful spasm…that’s Old Age. Crap. I should really get back to my weight-lifting/stretching regime, or maybe I should just stop doing laundry.

Piliated 2

Pileated Woodpecker in Whitemud Ravine

After that, I took it slowly, walking with an obviously creaky gait (the dog looked mildly ashamed to be seen with me.) Last Sunday, I returned to the trails for a long, lovely walk. Sadly, not much since then! Short walks with Maggie, and on Wednesday I was felled yet again, this time by a cold. Torrential storm on Friday and Saturday morning with more than 60mm of rain. Not much of anything to report, by way of exercise.

Whitemud Ravine (south) boardwalk, between the 2nd and 3rd bridge

Whitemud Ravine (south) boardwalk, between the 2nd and 3rd bridge

So…back to last Sunday, after a short stroll through the park with Maggie, I set off for Whitemud sans dog, via the powerline. Within 25 minutes I saw not one but two pileated woodpeckers. The first one was relatively close, so I was able to pull off a few good shots with my camera. The other one was further away, so only black silhouettes. After that, I continued for another hour through the woods, and then a final 20 minutes through Westbrook. At all times I would prefer to walk with my buddy Maggie, but without her, I can cover a lot more territory, a lot quicker. It’s been tricky dividing my time. I never know anymore if she’s going to be into a longer walk, or more likely, will stop dead after we’ve barely started. Since I often drive to the trail head with her, this can be a huge waste of time, and disappointing, I think, for both of us. But, I must honour an old dog’s bones. She knows better than I what she can, and can’t handle. It’s just so unpredictable.

In the backyard, where we spend most of the last two weeks

In the backyard, where we spend most of the last two weeks

Supposed to be warm this week, so I’m anticipating some good hikes. My cold is in the chest, so I’ll probably wait a day or two before attempting anything vigourous. Today, I’m walking somewhere, maybe not for long, because I’m still mid-cold, but I’ve got to get out. It’s beautiful, and I have cabin fever…among other things.