Category Archives: Observations

It’s snowing

 

Yeah, it is.

And for the last 24 hours.

Not an actual post (more of a whinefest), as my only walk today will be to and from work, via bus, train and a short two-block scurry to my snow-covered abode. What a kick in the lady business.

We had a warm day on Friday, September 7 and Tom and I went for a wonderful walk after work. Since then, we’ve had cold weather, rain and last night and today, snow. Not a little bit of snow. Full-on cover-everything-green-and-pink-and-alive (or it was) snow. It’s also cold, so I have my winter coat out and my gloves. Yes, the snow will melt, but we’ve lost any semblance of summer. Once the white goes, we will have dead flowers and mid-autumn foliage, even though it’s still summer. I said (almost) more fucks this morning on my way to work than I did the day Trump got elected.

What a weather year. First, our winter goes on and on, and then there is barely a spring before summer hits with 30+ temperatures beginning in May and carrying on through August. On the first night of the Folk Fest this year, it was 34C and smokey (from BC fires) so Tom and I didn’t go. And now, we didn’t even get a chance to enjoy early fall. Yeah, I’m crushed, as are all Edmontonians.

At least we have Trevor Robb, a reporter for the Edmonton Journal who has been entertaining us with his depressing (but hilarious) headlines about our weather this year. This one, today, was particularly good.

Bugger

1C and cloudy

Walterdale Bridge (Junior)

First time to walk under and over the new Walterdale Bridge (Walt Jr.).

It’s really something, and the area around it is gorgeous! For all of the inconveniences – of having that trail cut off for years on both sides of the river; for all the trees that I knew, that were cut down, I would say that this new bridge makes up for it. As a driver, it’s amazing. As a walker, even more so.

The pathway across the bridge is extremely wide, with a wide open view to the sky and the river valley. It’s like a promenade. Below the bridge is a paved pathway leading to the trail that eventually becomes Skunk Hollow, which I will take next week sometime, especially as the new Indigenous Park is scheduled to open at the former Queen Elizabeth Pool area. There is also an unpaved path that is closer to the river and actually leads to the shore. The stairs are nice. The replanted foliage is nice. I give it a 10.

This path from the university to the Walterdale Bridge used to be my main river valley commute. There are trails leading off to other areas, in particular the trail that skirts around Rossdale beside the north side of the river (which is still blocked off), but this was the one that most often got me home.

I missed it.

For the first time in over five years, that trail got me home yesterday, but circuitously. I took a few photos of the bridge and then carried on the far path to Rossdale and then Louise McKinney Park, which is currently cut in half by the Valley Line LRT construction. It was wonderful to walk such familiar paths again. Once I was in McKinney, I took the stairs to downtown and then walked home from there.

Rossdale, headed toward the Low Level Bridge

We’re having a bit of a reprieve from the cool weather that hit us like a bang mid-August. It’s been cool and rainy ever since, with a few sunny days thrown in. Yesterday (Thursday) and today, however, it’s beautiful and warm (21C and 25C, respectively). A smattering of yellow here and there, and a bit of crunch underfoot, but for the most part, visually it still looks like late summer.

North Saskatchewan River from Louise McKinney Park

Red leaves, Louise McKinney Park

There were no posts in August. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, and I had little opportunity or inclination to walk in the woods. My sister Barb spent most of August in ICU, and then passed away on Sunday, September 2. She was plagued by Lupus and latterly, COPD, for decades, and in the last few years her body grew increasingly exhausted (but not her mind!). Her lungs struggled to breath and her kidneys shut down, and while she had been on dialysis for a year that too proved to be a burden on her health (although I’m sure it prolonged it for a little while). In the hospital, she was communicative and even sometimes, quite happy. She had reached the stage of acceptance with her failing health. But the last week, and her last 48 hours, were extremely difficult and sad. She was gone by Saturday morning, but her body continued on until Sunday afternoon.

Walking has helped to shed some of the grief, but as I have learned (unfortunately), it is something that comes and goes on its own capricious schedule. Rest in peace, Barb.

Sizzling Sunday

I like your thinking Stella

This has got to be a record-breaking July in terms of hot, miserable weather. OK, maybe not miserable if you like temperatures upwards of 30C, but definitely miserable if, like me, you’re not into full on – who knew I had pores there – body sweat. At least it’s not horribly dry, thanks to some spectacular thunderstorms.

For the last week, Sharon and Vic have been away on yet another adventure, this time to Colombia, so I spent most of the weekend at their place playing with Stella (and Kate, and oh yeah the cat Wanda). My niece says that I bring ‘enrichment” to Stella’s life when her parents are away. I’m sure that’s true, if you count long walks in the ravine, doggie pool-play (if it’s hot, which it always is), and the delivery of treats, in this case a fresh bag of Beggin’ Strips. Stella looks sooo forlorn inside the house. She’s definitely an outdoorsy girl, whereas Kate is decidedly indoorsy, referring to the sun as “the day-star” – and in no way is this complimentary.

On Sunday, I drove over early to gather the dog for a hike in Whitemud Ravine. Even at 9:00 am, it was warm, but once we dived into the woods, the temperature dropped by about five degrees. Stella is so damn happy in the ravine, as am I, although my ears don’t bounce as I trot along the trail (and really, I don’t trot). Nor do I stop to smell everything, but the overall scent is magnificent.

Spot the snout

Finding time for these sorts of walks has been more challenging than I expected. I guess my life is a little more complicated now, and happily so. And even though I live two blocks off the river valley, there is no escaping the traffic, either on Victoria Trail, River Road, the truly awful Groat Bridge construction site, or even down Jasper into Louise McKinney and beyond. This is true also of my commutes. When I lived in Mill Creek, it was fairly easy to avoid major roads on my way home.

After work, once I was in the river valley (usually off Saskatchewan Drive), any number of gorgeous trails could take me home, and depending on the route I chose, would double as an incredibly good workout. I might have to cross traffic on or under the Walterdale Bridge, the Low Level Bridge or 99th Street, but for the most part, my entire commute was in the woods. Now, I live on the other side of the river, and it’s not so easy to find these beautiful, trail-based commutes.

It is better than nothing, however, and even when I lived two blocks off Mill Creek Ravine, my routes were always being diverted by construction projects. Now, it’s even worse, with the new Waterdale Bridge construction site and the Valley Line LRT. So even as I wax poetic about my old routes – those routes, at least for several more years, no longer exist.

Tree falls in the wind, beaver’s delight

Back to Whitemud Ravine. It was a good walk, with a good dog, and we both very much enjoyed it. Stella got to sample the creek water at two different spots, and tangentially, through some slimy stick throwing and Stella’s all-encompassing body shakes, so did I.

Coupla ravens

9:30-11:30/26C

Lunchtime Walk

My fluttery companion

Another hot day, so I went for a walk around the university at noon. I underestimated a: the heat, and b: the amount of time it would take to walk a circuit from Tory, to the Groat Bridge, down River Road, across the LRT Bridge, and back up to Tory. Just a little over an hour, but I left at 12:15, so I was late getting back. And sweating buckets. It started out pleasant enough, but by about half way through, I was getting pretty toasty.

The entire walk, I was surrounded by butterflies. I don’t know what I did to deserve this honour guard, but I was grateful, and told them so. Come to think of it, maybe it was just one butterfly with a lot of determination.

On the Groat Bridge, I spoke to three cyclists about dismounting from their bikes (as they sped by me). A woman turned around and said, laughingly, they were “too lazy” to dismount, as the signage demands. It’s not an option! That makeshift pathway is extremely narrow, very loud, & cannot accommodate their laziness (as I said on Twitter later). Walking across Groat bridge is not pleasant, and I worry about getting schmucked by a bike. Where possible, I try to find an alternate route across the river. I also walked from the train to home after work, so in total about 13,627 steps. But then I bought some chocolate almonds so yeah.

22C (at lunch), 27C later.

A month of walks

Up Victoria trail

It’s been a good(ish) month, walking-wise, just haven’t posted anything.

Among the good news – pretty sure the worms/caterpillars are gone. Bad news – though it’s not really bad, just annoying, it’s been stinking hot. I think of June as the worm month, not the who-turned-the-thermostat-up-to-cremate month. Lots of temps close to 30C. I’m not a fan, although I own three fans, all of them operating at hurricane strength.

Enough complaining.

Since I haven’t posted, I’ll begin backwards.

I fell in love with a tree on Saturday. The spruce tree’s bark was gone in one area, exposing its soft underbelly of wood, which was bejeweled with sap.  And I mean bejeweled. It was bleeding tiny amber gems, and in the dappled sunlight, the sparkle was breathtaking. I was there at exactly the right time for the sun to catch this glorious display. I thought, oh here you are. There’s always something unique that reveals itself on my walks. Something amazing or unusual, or extraordinarily beautiful, like this tree. I tried to capture it on film, but failed. I thanked it, and moved on.

For this particular walk, I took the bus down to 100 Street, and then walked down the new staircase to the Low Level Bridge, and then east to the ski hill and over to Mill Creek Ravine.

Along the way, I observed many caterpillar damaged trees, but happily, no dangling worms. The trees will come back. The worms, however, have now transformed into some kind of moth. Not nearly as creepy.

This grove of trees in Henrietta Muir Park, or what’s left of it, has been severely damaged by the leaf roller caterpillar, but it will return to its green self by mid-July. The river valley is full of these seemingly dead trees, most of them Green Ash.

After that, a walk through Skunk Hollow – the trail where I saw the tree (and thousands more), and the beautiful little path that eventually runs parallel to Scona Road. The upper paved part of that trail is now off limits because of severe cracking, but I went beside the gate, as many others have done judging by the well-worn path. I wonder when, or if, the city will fix this? After that, I was so hot and so tired I took the funicular back up to street level.

Generally, I don’t count steps or kms, just time, but that day I clocked in at 15,000+ steps (over about two hours in total). Pretty decent.

The other walks this June have been around the ‘hood and in Whitemud Ravine with Stella. I’ve been trying to avoid the river valley because of the caterpillars, but now that they are gone, I can resume my walks home through the trails.

My beloved Mill Creek

27C (I think…) 

Sunday Monday

Sharon and gang went out to Elk Island on Sunday morning, and because I had stuff to do, I didn’t go with them and instead, walked in Whitemud Ravine sans dog around noon. I love walking with dogs, but it’s tough to take photos, especially with Stella who doesn’t really stand still. She’s got a lot of puppy curiosity, even though she’s six.

It was a pretty great walk, although hot. I walked through to the other end of the powerline, around the houses, and then into Whitemud Ravine, exiting at the Aspen Gardens trail head. About an hour plus.

Whitemud frog(less) bog

This morning, Sharon, Stella and I drove to Westbrook, and then walked in the ravine for an hour. Stella had a dip in the creek.

I should probably mention that I’ve been back at Sharon’s for a week while repairs to the ceiling and walls in my kitchen and master bathroom are completed. I’m calling it the #Sexwater2018 incident. The jacuzzi tub in the condo above me overflowed (it may have had two people in it at the time) and I had water pouring from my ceilings in the bathroom and kitchen. And so, several weeks later, I’m out while they do the repairs. I should be back tomorrow. I miss my place, especially as I have only been there for a little more than two months, but it’s been nice to spend some time walking with Stella again. She was away with Sharon in Scottsdale for all of February, and one of the last times I walked with her before I moved out, we both wiped out on the ice. There is no ice now, just green, pink and purple. And brown creek water.

17C (but will be 28C)