Love-sick frog songs & tree holes

Squirrel 2

A BEAUTIFUL day! It’s like the end of May. Warm, fragrant and green. Early green. But still green. We went a-froggin’ in Whitemud Ravine. I noticed that last year at this time I took a bunch of photos of frogs in one of the bogs. Last week, there was neither water nor frogs (that I could hear) in Mill Creek Ravine, and today in Whitemud, the first bog was too dry, but the second one closer to Rainbow Valley Road had lots of frogs. We couldn’t get close enough to see them, but their love-sick frog songs were lovely.

Later, I spotted a squirrel in the tree-hole, the place of strange offerings and treasures. The hole was full of seed and the squirrel was shoveling as much as possible into its mouth, turning around to get the seed, and then eating it in front of us. When he left, I placed a few peanuts in the hole. Seemed like the right thing to do. Party on squirrel.

The sounds and smells in the woods today were magnificent.

Squirrel 3

Squirrel 1

3:30-5:00/22C

Of Bridges and Robins

Bridge 1

It was a very cold Saturday, but Tom and I braved the wind to join a human chain of Cloverdale Footbridge supporters in yet another effort to show our love for a part of the river valley that will soon be torn asunder once the Valley Line LRT is underway. It was a great. It was cold. It was weird, or at least the guy carrying around a plush sturgeon was weird. I asked him about it, and he began a type of diatribe one might expect of a man carrying a stuffed sturgeon. Once he started talking about blowing stuff up, we moved on. Strangely, there were other people with sturgeon emblazoned placards. I know they have a point about disturbed fish and wildlife populations, but it struck me as odd.

Wonderful Kristine Kowalchuk addresses the crowds

Wonderful Kristine Kowalchuk addresses the crowds

Prior to the bridge protest, we walked from 99th through Mill Creek Ravine and the Muttart. There were a lot of puffed up robins bracing themselves against the wind, but they were still singing. The ravine is surprisingly green and the creek (not so surprisingly) is very, very low. I remember past springs when the creek flooded its banks and it was impassable in some areas. It rained later in the afternoon yesterday and then all evening. That will help.

A robin serenading us, in spite of the wind

A robin serenading us, in spite of the wind

On the way home, we ran into a trail blockage by the low level bridge. The funicular. Managed to get through the first gate, but not the second. Scrambled up the hill and then walked along the west trail behind Scona Road to Route 99 for a late snack.

In spite of the cold, it was a great walk, and I was glad to pay my respects to our beloved bridge and see friends from the Save the Footbridge advocacy group. They are true stewards of the river valley.

4C/12:45 to 3:00

A Study in Geese

Buena Vista Park footbridge

Buena Vista Park footbridge

A magnificent walk today. It’s April 17th, and it felt like summer. Dogs swimming in the river, people – hundreds of people – in shorts and tank tops, bikers, birds. Green. Blue sky. Heat. And geese. So many geese in Hawrelak. It felt great.

View over the Hawrelak/Laurier footbridge. Dogs everywhere

View over the Hawrelak/Laurier footbridge. Dogs everywhere

We drove through beautiful Glenora over to Buena Vista Park and into McKenzie Ravine. We walked down a hill and then along the river to the bridge that spans Hawrelak Park and Buena Vista/Laurier off-leash. We spent a long time on the bridge, looking down into river, watching dogs play around in the water. Talking. It was great.

Goose in Hawrelak

Goose in Hawrelak

Back towards the car, we followed a boardwalk to a steep set of stairs. Back into the car and then a winding road through Glenora.

Great.

Hawrelak Lake

Goosetail

A coupla hours/20C

 

Hawrelak Uncovered

Hawrelak geese

Hawrelak geese

A much-needed walk down to Hawrelak Park on Friday at lunch. As I have mentioned a few times, Hawrelak seagullthese walks with Tom take about 75 minutes because they include a 15 stop for a packed lunch, but I feel like I put in enough time to warrant a occasional leisurely lunch. Last time we were down there, it was still snow-covered. Now, other than the sad mound of melted ice leftover from the ice palace, the park is entirely clear and greening up fast. It was spectacularly beautiful and soothing. Lots of geese (probably preggers), ducks, crows and about a billion seagulls.

Just what I needed.

Hawrelak lake

Hawrelak birdies

Hawrelak trail

On the way to Hawrelak Park

12:00 to 1:20/13C

Oh Glenora!

Glenora river valley, looking east

Glenora river valley, looking east

Glenora river valley, looking west

Glenora river valley, looking west

Tom1Yesterday I had the great pleasure of seeing Edmonton and the river valley in an entirely new light, thanks to Tom. We walked through his Glenora neighbourhood all the way around the river to Valleyview (next to Katz’s house), replicating his running route. It was spectacularly beautiful, from the fountain in Glenora to the panoramic view of the snaking river valley as we walked from one lookout point and bench to another. As I have discovered in my 20 years of trail walking in Edmonton, there are myriad ways to experience the river valley and ravines of this city, and they all have their unique pleasures and secrets. What a great thing to ‘discover’ yet another incredible view, another series of trails, and entirely new levels of beauty. It was simply amazing.

The day was uncharacteristically warm, but as per usual in spring, hellaciously windy. Glenora is a well-known ritzy area of Edmonton and yeah, the houses were suitably grand, but I was surprised by the funkiness of some of the architecture and yard art. Kind of like an upscale Mill Creek. It was a only a few blocks to the edge of the river valley, and from that point on, we just walked around its periphery, stopping occasionally to watch ice chunks flow down the river. My photos don’t capture how beautiful the vistas were, or how nice the day was, but I am hoping for more walks in that area, especially as the city greens up.

We have many trails to discover.

River valley towards Valleyview

River valley towards Valleyview

The guy in the black socks is Tom

The guy in the black socks is Tom

Glenora trapeze house

Glenora trapeze house

Glenora weiner dog

Glenora weiner dog

Bear sighting in Valleyview

Bear sighting in Valleyview

Coyote-friendly sign in Glenora

Coyote-friendly sign in Glenora

3:30 to 6:30/21C

Deermud in Whitemud

Deermud in Whitemud

Deermud in Whitemud

Great walk yesterday. And by great I mean muddy. And by muddy I mean really really muddy. We’ve reached that point in spring, rather early I might add, where the trails are a combination of dry dirt, quagmires of mud, pools of murky water, and ice. Not especially conducive to the Zen experience I’ve come to expect. All my consciousness was directed toward staying upright and finding the next tree/branch/Tom to grip as I attempted to cross flooded paths. Some guy was even running barefoot (“my shoes aren’t water-proof”) which must have felt…in some ways…kind of wonderful. Maybe.

Some sort of flag-based accident happened here...

Some sort of flag-based accident happened here…

I was glad that my partner in all things mud managed to remain upright, thus maintaining his dignity, not to mention the presentability of his pants. And also, it was very instructive with regard to the location and size of every fucking hole in my running shoes. My socks will never recover, and my toes are still miffed.

Footbridge from afar

Footbridge from afar

Footbridge up close

Footbridge up close

Our walk began below the stairs at the end of Whitemud Ravine, beyond the Talus balls and over the footbridge at Fort Edmonton. Near the river, which is 50% unfrozen, the mud was full of deer prints. Deermud in Whitemud. Parts were lovely, including an almost eye-level woodpecker (downy, I think CORRECTION Hairy), and of course, the day itself which was warm. Later that evening, it rained so a very typical early spring day with bonus mud and woodpeckers.

Debbie Downy Woodpecker

Debbie Downy Woodpecker I mean Harry Hairy Woodpecker

2:30 – 5:00/10C