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.

Into the River


Hot, 45 minute walk in Terwillegar with the doggie, my niece and sister this morning. Maggie was ecstatic to be in the river, and didn’t want to leave.

Definitely NOT Maggie

Definitely NOT Maggie

She gets this shrill, puppy-like bark going which is both funny and annoying. Lots of other dogs splashing about, and some swimming, even deep into the current. Maggie is more of a wader. Giant fields of daisies and other assorted weed/flower beauties in every direction, alive with bees and dragonflies.

I worry about Maggie on these hot days, and there wasn’t a lot of shade on the trail we took, but she seemed OK. Happy to be out with her peeps. And I was happy to be out with mine, on a beautiful day.



Hot Day in July


Haven’t posted for awhile, but…there have been walks. Oh yes. Not gonna lie though, when it was really hot last week, Maggie and I opted for short, morning walks. Today, however, I couldn’t let such a splendid day go unremarked. Unremarked upon? Breezy, warm, and intensely bright. Walked in fields of pink and yellow flowers, bent in gentle curves by fat bees. Above, and all around me, dragonflies. Puddles from last night’s storm, quickly evaporating in the wind. Cool, wet earth in the depths of the ravine, but hot on the access trails. Everything all smelly and pretty. Must be July.

Powerline in Whitemud Ravine

Powerline in Whitemud Ravine

Powerline field 1



24C/2:00 – 4:00

And then…


Raven 1Another lovely and hot walk through Mill Creek yesterday. The trail from north to south (and back) provided a fortune in bucolic scenery – long green grasses, wondrous smells, bubbling creek, and a raven eating a bird. I couldn’t ask for more.

Raven 3


Blue sky

26C/2:30PM (yesterday)

Solstice Saturday


Happy Solstice! Sunrise: 5:04 am/Sunset: 10:07 pm – more than 17 hours of sunlight, bracketed by many minutes of twilight on either end. Not bragging or anything, but living in the north does have its advantages. It’s not all about snow.

No boiled potatoes, naked dancing ’round a monolith or a variety pack of herring today, but we did go for a long walk along the river by Fort Edmonton Park. For Maggie’s sake, we drove to the park rather than starting from the Savage Centre. It’s a very lush path. Later in summer, it’s full of saskatoons, but now, just thick greenery, with little variation on the trail. Straight and flat, for the most part. Reminded me a bit of the path between the Kinsmen and Emily Murphy Park, except that one is right on the river. I know, I’ve fallen into it (in the winter.)

Maggie in the river 2

It was awhile before Maggie was able to find a place to jump into the fast-running river, but once she did, as per usual she perked right up. Prior to that, a lot of false starts to the river and ensuing dirty lDSCF5076ooks from the dog along the way. In the span of five minutes, we saw a canoe, a motorboat, and another dog on other side of the river doing the same thing Maggie was doing, except this dog was swimming, and Maggie only wades. We walked as far as the Fort Edmonton Park Footbridge. In total, about an hour plus walk on a warm, but very windy day.

The skies were lovely – scuttering clouds against a cobalt blue sky.

Wind aside, it was a very summery day, for the last day of spring.

Addendum: Forgot to mention, we ran into an older couple walking their…motorized toy cars! I said, “My, those are flat, colourful dogs you have.” They laughed. Apparently they run these things along the trails all the time, and they’re probably in their 70′s! “The cars don’t pee, and I don’t have to pick up their poop.” True enough. Awesome couple. Lots of laughs.

Fort Edm footbridge



The aptly named Big Lake, St Albert

The aptly named Big Lake, St Albert

Quite a few walks and no postings. Hmm. It’s raining today, so I thought I’d pull some thoughts and (a whole lotta) photographs from last week’s wanderings. The main event was a trip out to Big Lake in St Albert last Thursday, June 12th. Wow. We went in the early evening, when the light was soft and the birds were settling in for the night. In addition to the birds, there was an abundance, a wealth really, of little white-winged insects. Not sure what they were, but the little buggers were as numerous and extroverted as mosquitoes. I’d have two or three on my fingers as I tried to snap a shot. I seem to be particularly attractive to bugs this year. The mozzies have hit me hard. I’m not a reactor, so no huge welts, but a lot of reddish bumps in between the freckles.


Back to Big Lake, I saw birds I’d never seen before, and a landscape unlike anything else in the vicinity of Edmonton. So gorgeous. I took over 200 photos and walked for about an hour. It’s a birder’s, and a walker’s, paradise. Incredible views, canals, lakes, and a particularly lovely boardwalk. Also, beavers.

'Beaver in Slime'

‘Beaver in Slime’

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

Old Coot & wife

Old Coot & wife

Ducks of some ilk...

Ducks of some ilk…


Wha 'choo lookin' at?

Wha ‘choo lookin’ at?


When canaries schtoop crows...

When canaries schtoop crows…

It's all about core strength

It’s all about core strength

Old Coot without wife...

Old Coot without wife…

And then…yesterday, we took the dog on a marathon walk through Whitemud, from Snow Valley to the river. It was probably too long for her, but several dips into the creek seemed to revive her, and she’s not stiff today. It was a great walk. Lots of mozzies and somewhat humid, but deliciously, wondrously fragrant.


Tufts 1

Maggie dives for a stick