Stumps

WMCN Stump1

Stump!

An hour walk in Whitemud Creek Ravine north, starting at the staircase by the river and ending at Snow Valley (and then back again). Everything was quiet. The colours were quiet, the birds were mostly quiet. Few people. Lots and lots of tree stumps.

WMCN berries

By popular demand, another stump

By popular demand, another stump

1:45 to 3:00/9C

Afternoon, Mill Creek Ravine

Mill Creek Ravine from the paved trail

Mill Creek Ravine from the paved trail

Back in spectacular and currently monotone Mill Creek Ravine. Gorgeous in any season, even the Brown. And like Whitemud, mostly ice-free but muddier. I walked from downtown south to the trestle bridge (on the paved path for a change), and then back to downtown via the upper trail. More than two hours, and by the time it was over, I was tired and thirsty so I splurged on an Orange Julius.

NSRiver

The colours in Mill Creek are particularly muted, so photographs don’t really do it justice, nor is there any way to capture the warm, piney smells, which always remind me of Jasper.

Mill Creek Ravine upper trail heading north

Mill Creek Ravine upper trail heading north

All the trails were open in spite of some flooding a few weeks ago. Lots of dogs and their people out enjoying the summer temperatures. I really needed Mill Creek today. I knew I would feel better after a walk in my ‘own’ woods, and I was right.

One of two butterflies stalking me on the way home

One of two butterflies stalking me on the way home

No singing at the frog bog

No singing at the frog bog

Followed by butterflies on the way home (an orange one and a brown one). Even spotted some early Glovewood trees, always a hopeful sign of spring. However, no love-sick frog songs at the frog bog.

A blossoming Shoewood tree, a sure sign of spring

A blossoming Shoewood tree, a sure sign of spring

Shoewood2

And another Shoewood…

Geese on the water...

Geese on the water…

These two were making the geese very, very angry...

These two were making the geese very, very angry…

11:55 to 2:25/18C

No Ice

Whitemud Ravine sans ice

Whitemud Ravine sans ice

Fairly routine walk in Whitemud Creek Ravine this afternoon. It’s mild, and most – but not all of the ice has disappeared along the trails. Where it hasn’t melted, it’s sticky enough for running shoes. So, goodbye hiking boots for another year. Unless it snows. Which it will.

Up the west hill of the powerline a young guy was taking a whiz against a tree. He actually said hello! I couldn’t reply. First of all, I was appalled at such a public choice of pissoires, and second, why would I exchange a friendly greeting with an idiot who obviously has his hands on his dick? As I walked away, I was disgusted and more than a little disturbed. I made sure he wasn’t following as headed deeper into the woods.

A waterhole Maggie would love

A waterhole Maggie would love

Discovered a lovely little monkey trail beside the boardwalk, and a couple of ducks who I would not have seen if not for my new hidey hole. It will be obscured once the trees foliate, but it was nice to be totally alone for a few minutes. Me, and the ducks. It’s definitely an introvert day.

To the right of the boardwalk-Whitemud Creek. To the left, a new monkey trail.

To the right of the boardwalk-Whitemud Creek. To the left, a new monkey trail.

Mallard and wife at a newly discovered hidey hole

Mallard and wife at a newly discovered hidey hole

Once again, perfectly camouflaged

Once again, perfectly camouflaged

A murder of crow

A murder of crow

2:00 to 4:00/12C

A Tale of Two Wetlands

Wetland cattails

One man-made (Red Winged Blackbird pond), the other – Hodgson Wetlands, naturally occuring. Both of them are small, but they are urban and close-by…just west of Whitemud Creek Ravine. I went by the (self-named) RWB pond a couple of weeks ago, and it was still frozen over. Today, it’s mostly open and the mallards and geese have returned. Also, the muskrats, although I don’t think they ever left, just hibernated. No red-winged blackbirds yet. It was kinda windy, and periodically overcast, but still nice. A good day for a walk. A Good Friday walk.

Iceland turned back to wetland

Iceland returned to wetland (mostly)

The snow, or as I like to call it in April, opaque rain, has now melted. The landscape has returned to its natural brown colour, although tiny bits of green are popping up here and there. After walking around the first pond, Sharon introduced me to the second – Hodgson Wetlands, which was unknown to me. It’s tucked into the neighbourhood south of the first pond and is oddly situated, but entirely lovely. Rows of McMansions, and then a cat-tailed choked wetland, with a walkway and an observation deck. I will have to come back when it’s greener.

Wetland muskrat 1

Muskrat!

Wetland Muskrat 2

Skillfully camouflaged female mallard #2

Skillfully camouflaged female mallard

2:30 to 3:30/7C

In Like a (Bloody-Minded, Vindictive) Lamb

April Fool's

Yesterday (Tuesday), 18C. I walked to Southgate and back (90 minutes), and I am surprisingly stiff. Not sure why. Might be a leftover from the much longer walk on Monday. Not going anywhere today. It’s around zero, and blizzarding. The snow isn’t staying on the roads, but there is a blanket of white everywhere else. The two words I hate to see in a sentence in April (and May) are ‘snow’ and ‘accumulating’, but it’ll be gone in 24 hours, if not sooner. No shoveling. Nope.

Monday

What's left of the ice in Whitemud Ravine

What’s left of the ice in Whitemud Ravine

Two-hour walk in a very spring-like Whitemud Ravine this afternoon. Walked a loop from the powerline, north as far as the third bridge, and then back up through Westbrook. There is very little snow street-level and along the paved parts of the trail, but once inside the ravine – a long, winding strip of puddled-ice. It’s mostly slush thanks to the warm temperature today, but I think it will be another week or two before it’s doable in runners. I wouldn’t want to be down there in the mornings before the ice has had a chance to melt. Even on some of the hills, I was bushwhacking in the brush to avoid the ice. It seems I survived.

Some of the early seeds

Some of the early seeds

Along the path in the open areas, the ice sounds hollow underfoot. The entire ravine is loud with the sound of dripping water, birdsong, and the torrential current of the creek. Most impressively, in the places where the sun is strongest, it smells knee-weakeningly wonderful. That gorgeous, deep, earthy scent of spring. We are in the brown season before spring erupts into green, but it was still beautiful in the ravine today. Full of sensual pleasures.

Suet in an orange juice container. People are nice.

Suet in an orange juice container. People are nice.

Giant blocks of ice pushed up onto the banks by the 'raging' Whitemud Creek

Giant blocks of ice pushed up onto the banks by the ‘raging’ Whitemud Creek

Geese, blending in with the landscape

Geese, blending in with the landscape

Why do I always forget to fill my pockets with seed?

Why do I always forget to fill my pockets with seed?

Somebody remembered...

Somebody remembered…

Locked in ice...for now

Locked in ice…for now

13C/2:15 to 4:15