What I Do For Vitamin D (and a Mars Bar)

Trees

Does a walk around the neighbourhood count? What if my efforts were courageous, nay even heroic? It’s been a wonky winter. More freeze/thaw situations than in previous years, and a hell of a lot more rain. It reached 7C on Thursday, and then it poured. Last night it snowed about 3 or 4 cm, and so now, Saturday, the temperature has dropped to -13C and the sidewalks are a combination of ruffled ice, sheets of ice, and sweet, sweet death. And yet…the sun is out! It’s beautiful, so I had to walk. Those stupid spikes don’t stay on and I’m wary of heading into the ravines, but to the depths of my being I needed to be under the sun, absorbing vitamin D and all the other good things the blue skies and sun radiate. With my face toward the sun, it was actually warm, and I was able to shed my mitts for half the walk. I even think I heard a robin. I teetered in the middle of the road, searching the tops of spruce trees for a hint of red, but the robin, if indeed it was a robin, stayed hidden. By the end of the half hour walk, I was thoroughly restored, upright, the robin had disappeared, and my pocket contained a Mars Bar. Just as nature intended.

-13C/3:33PM

Bridge Troll

Louise McKinney hill

Ouch. Long time since posting. Excuses: it’s been cold, and I’ve been lazy. Last week, another mini-melt, and more freezing rain. Friday night, 15cm of snow. It’s a tri-polar winter.

Was over in Rossdale on Saturday feeding cats, and took myself for a walk around the river. Actually, it wasn’t much of a walk. I left my sister’s place around 4:45, so the sun was already dimming, but still beautiful. Walked through mounds of almost virgin snow (which was a bit of a slog) from her place to the Low Level Bridge, proceeding across to the south side with the intention of doing a loop around the river to Louise McKinney. I noticed a (slightly dubious) guy on the other side of the bridge. I make a point of being aware of my surroundings, especially if twilight looms and I know I’m going to be alone on the trails. And son of a bitch if he didn’t show up as I was walking under the bridge! He said, “Happy Valentine’s Day”, and I said, “you too”. He then tried to initiate a conversation about the weather – under the fucking bridge. I didn’t stop, and when I reached the stairs, I turned around and he was just standing there, half obscured by the wall. So, I aborted my plans for the looping walk (which would have been beautiful), walked up the stairs and back over the bridge, taking the short walk up to Louise McKinney and downtown. There were more people on the north side of the river, and I did not see that guy again. He didn’t follow me. Took a bunch of photos of the gorgeous late afternoon light, and then headed home.

Louise McKinney trail

It’s hard to say whether this guy would have been trouble. Probably not, but in the 20 years I’ve been walking in the river valley and ravines of this city, I’ve never had an issue, and I intend to keep it that way. The few times I’ve felt threatened, real or not, I have paid attention to my intuition and turned around, or did whatever was necessary to put myself out of the way of potential harm. Over the years, friends and family have often expressed their opinion that the river valley, and especially walking alone in the river valley, is dangerous. Well, I haven’t found this to be true. I pick my times, and pay attention. On the up side, at least someone wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Louise McKinney stairs

5C (Saturday)

Ice Ice Baby

It's everywhere!

It’s everywhere!

The city has turned to ice. It’s been so warm, new and giant puddles are forming everyday, and we’ve also had rain, mostly in the evenings. Rain, melting, freezing, slipping. The sideways are covered in great swaths of grey ice (I peripherally know someone who broke a hip last week), and the ravines, or at least the descent into the ravines, is a nightmare. Yesterday, it was so beautiful outside I wanted to be out, even for a short time, to get a dose of sunshine and hopefully unload my heavy mood, but I was only partially successful. I walked to a 7-11 (to get a Mars Bar, ahem) and the 20 minute walk on the east side of the powerline was pure ice.

Dog on ice

Dog on ice

Good thing I wore my spikes, but they are apt to spring off my feet, which they did several times. When I came home, the neighbour’s kid was playing hockey, on skates, in the cul de sac. It was kinda funny. Their beautiful dog Teddy is not amused by the ice, but at least he can stay upright, unlike Maggie. It’s a shame to have all this gorgeous weather in combination with bone-threatening ice. When I am able, I’m going to head over to the Running Room and replace my old crampons. They were little miracles. Pricey little miracles.

Teddy & Ian

Hockey Afternoon in the Cul de Sac

No walk today.

6C (at 10:30am)

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