Tag Archives: Mill Creek Ravine

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…) 

Not My River Valley

Where you at, Cloverdale Footbridge?

For the first time in months – many months – I walked in Mill Creek Ravine (on Monday, after work). I totally neglected it during the winter, and most of autumn. Sorry Mill Creek. You know you are still my favourite ravine.

Hello I love you, Mill Creek Ravine

Since the last time I was down there, many things have changed, and not for the better. First surprise, Wild Earth Bakery is closed, and so is Wild Earth Foods (formerly IGA), my grocery store for two decades. How very sad. I feel like I dodged a bullet by choosing not to move back into that area, but I feel very sorry for those who still live in this beautiful, walkable neighbourhood two blocks from Mill Creek. Although the bakery had many incarnations over the years (it was a pharmacy in 1990 when I moved there, and then a video store), it became a real meeting spot for locals in the ten years of its existence. I have many fond and delicious memories of the trail mix cookies that I would often treat myself to after long walks in Mill Creek. Developers are building a couple of high-rise towers on that lot, so the small businesses are not wanted on that inevitable voyage.

After that shock, I carried on through the familiar houses on 89th, but did not see Godzilla in his pot, where he should be this late in spring. Did his owners move too? Jesus Christ.

Mill Creek Ravine (south) is thankfully the same, as far as I can tell. Still beautiful. Still deeply familiar. Also, very dry. There are lots of tiny green things that will become big green things once we get some more rain. The creek is not too low, so we’re not in a drought, but the dominant colour is still brown.

From the bridge, facing south

From the bridge, facing north

Once I crossed the pedestrian bridge over Connor’s Road, that’s when things started to change BIG TIME.

Lots of trees cut down on both sides of Connor’s Hill, and there is already some sort of structure below the hill beside the Muttart, probably the LRT station. No more running down, or up that hill. And so the only path left is around the ski club, through the Muttart parking lot, and up the pedestrian bridge over 98th. But only so far. The path has been narrowed and curved, so instead of walking into a canopy of green at Henrietta Muir Park and the Cloverdale bridge, it’s a construction site leading commuters back onto 98th.

It was jarring to see the site. I won’t go into what a devastating loss I feel looking over at all that ugliness, but suffice to say it was pretty awful. And in my mind, and many other minds, completely unnecessary. But, it is done.

Instead of a canopy of trees, what now greets pedestrians at the north end of the 98th street footbridge

After that, I dove back into the woods at the River Queen entrance, walking along the lightly verdant trail until I reached the Low Level Bridge. At this point, I had been walking for more than an hour and I was tired, hot and deflated, so I decided to treat myself to my first ever ride on the Funicular.

The Funicular is another thing that didn’t need to happen, but I enjoyed the ride and especially the views. As it only goes half way up (or down, depending on your orientation) I’m not sure it achieves the true accessibility to the river valley trails that was its original purpose. And, the elevator to the funicular wasn’t working, so in the end, I still walked up a bunch of stairs, but only half as many as I would have walked if this fancy escalator didn’t exist.

Walking up to the funicular

Funicularing

I miss my old river valley. Thankfully, it’s a long river, with many points of interest. But this area was really special to me. I knew it well. And now it’s gone.