Author Archives: Donna

And I Would Walk 21,152 Steps…

Or about nine miles. Not quite 500 but I think the Proclaimers would still be proud. On Sunday (January 5), I finally walked with Tom on one of his marathon hikes to visit his new found haunt, The Sweet Pea Cafe in Laurier Heights. About a three hour walk from Glenora there and back, with a lovely half hour respite for a coconut milk latte (both of us), a strawberry muffin (him) and cheese and herb scone (me). It was very nice, but a much longer walk than I’m used to. I’m very glad we had that mid-way stop. If I had worn my winter boots, it would have been too painful. Thankfully, there was no snow on the sidewalks, so I wore my running shoes. No probs.

View of Mackinnon Ravine from, as Tom calls it, “the Donna McKinnon Bridge”
A not quite frozen over North Saskatchewan River on Jan 5, which I assume is now frozen solid (Jan 10)

It was an absolutely perfect day to walk. We started around 11:30 when the sun was out and the temperature was a frosty -7C. By the end, the sun was still gloriously bright and the temperature had risen to plus 4C. I knew this would be the day to walk, since the following two weeks (I am writing this on Friday, January 10) would be brutally cold. And it is. It snowed 15 cm on Wednesday, and this morning, I waddled to the bus stop under dark skies and -23C temperatures. Double gloves. Hood up. Frown on. Still, it’s sunny so that helps. Sort of.

Tom, shortly after he walked his millionth step (over the past 37 days). Yes, he tracks that kind of thing…

The Sunday walk was a version of what Tom does almost every day. He’s become quite the warrior. Or maybe it’s OCD? In any case, he is unwavering. Not sure how he will do it or if he will do it next week when the temperature drops to -27C as the high for several days, but if there is a way, he will find it. Unfortunately, there is an Oilers game on Tuesday, so we will both have to figure out how to get there without dying. I’m thinking public transit. And lots of Bailey’s.

A Blue Sky Start to 2020

The not-quite-finished Ice Castle in Hawrelak Park

The week between Christmas and New Years is typically cold as balls, but this year, it was mild. Today, the sky was blue and the temperature reached plus 4! However, as I write this (Jan 2), Facebook has reminded me that last year it was 8C, a record breaking day for Edmonton. Nevertheless, it was beautiful and sunny.

Tom and I walked to Hawrelak Park from my place. Round trip it ended up at 13,633 steps. My feet were very tired/sore and I blame my newish boots. I’ve certainly had better over the years.

Hawrelak lake, not completely iced over
The North Saskatchewan River from the Hawrelak/Laurier Park footbridge

There were many, many people at Hawrelak. It was teeming with winter enjoyists skating at the newly created oval near the lake (which has not completely frozen over), trekking the trails, and even barbecuing. We wandered by the ice castle, and though it was spectacular it is not yet finished. There was an ice carver on the top, working in a t-shirt against the blue sky. Not something you see everyday.

Dude in t-shirt working on the ice castle

It seemed a little quiet in the woods. I have read that there are far fewer songbirds now, and that may account for the quiet canopy. On the other hand, it may also have something to do with the time of day (we left around 1 pm). Still, there were chirping chickadees and the odd woodpecker. I tipped one of the many bird feeders over (slightly) to get some seed, and eventually a chickadee landed on my outstretched hand. I always feel so honoured when a bird eats out of my hand, even if I had to borrow the seed. Must remember to pack some for my next walk in the woods.

Tom contemplating life, the universe and everything. Also, the Oilers.

It’s easy to get lulled into a state of comfortable amnesia by the relatively mild December and early January we are having, but the weather wasn’t dissimilar from last year and we still got nailed in February. Fingers crossed. I am back at work as of today, and this morning it was 2C but now it’s -1C and rather blowy. Blue sky though!

Sunrise: 8:50 am/Sunset: 4:26 pm

What Happened to November?

Warm, for the first time in years

It’s been awhile – more than a month – since I wrote in this blog! I haven’t stopped walking. On the contrary, since Tom and I decided to walk to the Oilers games from my place instead of driving all the way to the university and then taking the train, I’ve hit 10,000-plus steps on more days than would be normal for this time of year. Or, the new normal, since I don’t seem to be overall walking as much. I still walk home most days, but that is only 45 minutes, give or take, and about 6,000 steps.

Tom, on the other hand, has fully converted to the walking lifestyle. He was in mourning for a few years about not being able to run anymore because of his knees, and while he did walk with me fairly often on weekends, he didn’t see it as a viable fitness alternative to running. In late July, after a long period of inactivity, he started walking on his own. And, true to form, he has become obsessed, logging between 20,000 and 30,000 steps a day. Bravo to him! Over 25 years of walking, I have measured my walks in terms of time, not steps or kilometres, but the step counter app (Pacer) has become quite a good gauge, and in Tom’s case, motivator, to get moving.

Walking home through the Legislature Grounds Monday night

As for temperatures, we had several snow episodes in November, followed usually by warm ups, so while it hasn’t been snowless, the sidewalks have been clear for much of the month. The freeze-thaw cycle has continued into December, but the landscape is now white. (Only recently did the river freeze over, however.) It always seems to snow whenever I need to drive somewhere. A few extremely cold days too, but because I haven’t been keeping up with the blog, I can’t say what days. I now have a much warmer coat that for the first time in years goes past my ass, so I am able to withstand whatever weather is thrown at me, for the most part. Last Friday (December 13), Tom and I walked to Padmanadi’s from my place (about 25 blocks) in a blizzard. We arrived, however, safe and sound and ready to partake in an all-you-can-eat-soy and soy adjacent buffet.

From the LRT, the river only froze over in the last couple of days

Very often, the weather between Christmas and New Year’s is a frozen hellscape, but this year it looks relatively moderate. Hopefully that means a lot of walking. Real walking, in the woods. Preferably with a dog.  

About -6C today. Sunrise: 8:47 AM. Sunset: 4:15 PM.

Sunny (ish) Sunday

Beautiful Mill Creek Ravine (upper path)

Gorgeous walk in Mill Creek Ravine this morning with Tom. Most of the leaves have fallen, especially in the last week, revealing the Andrew Wyeth landscape beneath. I love sunny Sundays.

Mill Creek. Low, and soothing

When we started around 11:45 am, some dark clouds had rolled in, but buggered off once I had a pleaded with them. It stayed coolish (around 4C) but with the blue sky overhead, it was a perfect autumn day.

We went to north Mill Creek this time, which is a bit shorter, because it appears to have rained last night, and I didn’t like our chances on the monkey trail re-route which is straight down the ravine near the trestle bridge.

I introduced Tom to the steep set of ass-kicker stairs near Connor’s Hill, which he took two steps at a time. It’s been a long time since I was up that set of stairs. I used to run up them. I didn’t run, but I made them fairly easily. Fantastic view from up there. Lots of ups and downs on this walk, although we didn’t quite make 10,000 steps.

Nice view after getting our asses kicked…

And then our usual lunch at Route 99. Nice way to spend a morning!

4C, about an hour.

Hawrelak to See the Geese

Hawrelak with Geese

I wanted to see the geese at Hawrelak before they bugger off south, so Tom and I started from my place, walking to the park via the Victoria road trail, over the LRT bridge and then through Emily Murphy Park.

The view from Victoria Park Road, on the way to Hawrelak

I am writing this on Thanksgiving Monday (October 14). It’s 2C and raining, but still no snow. Nice to think back a week ago when it was gorgeous and warm. I’ve been seeing and hearing the geese practising overhead. Hard to say when they will make the trip. Southern Alberta has already seen a lot of snow. We’re just lucky so far, I guess. In 2017, it snowed on November 1 and stayed. Last year, it was a day later, on November 2 (with snow episodes in September and October). Let’s hope we can make it longer this year. I have my snow tires on, but that doesn’t mean I’m daring winter to start. When I first began walking in 1994, I was still a winter person. Now, I am solidly on the summer side. I still think fresh snow and blue skies are incredibly beautiful, and I would not want a Christmas without snow, but it’s just getting harder and harder to deal with ice, and the endless days of cold.

North Saskatchewan River from the LRT bridge

To be honest, though, what I want are blue skies, regardless of the temperature. It’s amazing how down I can get on an overcast day. Not big puffy clouds, but that grey, unvaried and suffocating blandness that sucks all the colour and life out of the landscape, and apparently me.

Even if it’s not raining, I find it harder to motivate myself to go for a walk when it’s overcast. Sometimes it’s nice, out in the woods, with the subdued colours, but most of the time I just want blue. It’s some kind of miracle that we get this amazing colour above us, most days.

As I write and look out the window, the rain is getting suspiciously white, but whatever happens, it won’t stay. Not today, anyway. And by Wednesday, two days from now, it will be 15C and sunny.

I am thankful for all the days I have, and that my family and friends have, but yeah, a few more blue sky days would be much appreciated. And how about those geese!

11 am to 1 pm/17C