Tag Archives: Stella

A Return to Whitemud Ravine with Stella

Whitemud Ravine. It was actually sunnier than the clouds would suggest.

It’s hard to believe I haven’t walked in Whitemud Ravine since the winter. I’m not even sure I walked there in the winter! I probably did. I can account for February and March (Scottsdale and then the injury) and April/early May (COVID-19 shutdown) but since mid-May, I’ve really had no excuse. In fact, my walking in the last month or so has really sucked. We’ve had lots of rain, and I’ve been busy at work (including working some weekends) but if walking is not a priority, it’s not going to happen. And it hasn’t been a priority, for some reason. When I have walked it’s been over to Tom’s or with Tom, in and around Glenora. Great walks, but not the woods.

Stella refuses to pose

It’s so clear that I feel most at home, most like myself, walking in the ravines and the river valley. There’s just something about the woods. I felt immediately better once Stella and I walked down into that ravine via Westbrook. It was also wonderful to be with her, and to be surrounded by green. Sharon and Vic are away on holidays to BC, so even though Kate walks her, she doesn’t take her into the woods. Stella loves it. Whenever I come over, she noses the door of my car. She knows.

Stella stops to smell the whatever

Whitemud Ravine is incredibly lush right now. We’ve had so much rain, everything is moist, overgrown and ridiculously green. This is also my first unpaved trail walk since the injury. Crazy that I haven’t done this yet, but I was worried about tripping on a tree root and hyper-extending my leg again. It was totally fine. I didn’t feel any strain. Stella goes up hills very slowly now, but that’s OK.

Hello slough!
Slough too!

One thing that was different was the little construction project about half way through is now completed. Last year, they took out the rickety boardwalk bridge and the very rickety wooden stairs. Somehow, in a feat of wizardry, they put in a bridge that doesn’t seem to have an incline, but still ends up at the top of the hill, next to the little lookout that is always full of seed for birds, squirrels and chipmunks.

New bridge!

Stella and I made it to Rainbow Valley Road and back. It took a little more than an hour, but surprisingly, it only adds up to 7,600 steps. The good thing is that it’s up and down, so a good, occasionally strenuous walk. Stella really, really wanted to go into the creek, but it’s too high and fast right now. Maybe in a couple of weeks. I sprayed her with the hose when we got back.

Next best thing to jumping in the creek…

The walk was really rejuvenating. I’m having a hard time taking care of myself these days. Lots of anxiety, stress, poor sleeping. The ironic thing is that if I was walking more, I probably wouldn’t be experiencing those things, or at least not to the same degree. Not only does walking decrease stress and anxiety, it can also prevent it. At least in my experience. The world is kind of a dumpster fire at the moment, so the least I can I do is take myself for a daily walk. It worked for 20+ years. No reason why it couldn’t work again.

Creek is high

70 minutes, about 20C

Stella Time

Stella’s happy place

Every day in Scottsdale, Sharon takes Stella to the Civic Centre, a short walk from their place. It’s a beautiful area in Old Town Scottsdale which hosts the public library, a gift shop, lots of greeeeen grass and flowers, and depending on the day, an Indian craft fair (their word, not mine), a farmer’s market, outdoor music concerts, and as far as Stella is concerned, it’s most important feature, fountains. Many fountains. This is Stella’s happy place.

She knows the way, and at least on one occasion, steered me in the right direction when I was inadvertently taking the wrong way, away from her favourite fountain. The pull on her leash increases as she nears the water, waiting to be released into the cool, blue water.

A dog’s joy is so contagious. She just throws herself into the water, chasing the ball, splashing and dog-paddling in the water, spitting the ball on the deck so that we can throw it again. And again.

It’s probably not technically allowed, but who could deny her this happiness? Lots of people stop and laugh. Finally, when it’s over, she emerges, drenched in diamonds, detonating sparkling gems as she shakes it off. In Scottsdale, Stella is always a little damp.

And when not splashing in public fountains or bopping affably along on the trails, Stella sleeps. HARD.

Really, I’ve Walked

Stella eyeing Nuthatch

Oh Facebook, robbing this blog of content. Must be the instant gratification of FB. I never know who is reading this blog, if anyone. No matter, it’s kind of a personal journal anyway, with pretty pictures. As always, I want to spread the word of how magnificent the green spaces of our city are, but the blog also serves as a record of my existence, of my adventures small and large, of the dogs in my life, and of the passage of time. That’s enough. But readers are good too.

So here is my walk from Sunday, June 2 with Stella, in a hot and sunny Whitemud Ravine.

I think it was about 22C

Easter Monday in Whitemud

Stella surveys her territory

On the whole, this April has been very nice, with the exception of this weekend. It snowed Saturday and Sunday, worse in Calgary than here, but still, enough to whiten the ground and temporarily displace thoughts of spring. I was dog-sitting while Kate was in Calgary (driving in harrowing white-out road conditions) and Sharon and Vic were (and still are) in Scottsdale.

Stella of course loved the snow, but it was very cold and very windy, so in the afternoon we only walked for about 45 minutes, with two smaller walks Friday night and Saturday morning.

This post isn’t about the weekend, however, but Easter Monday, April 22 when my car was at the dealer getting its summer gear on and Stella and I had two hours to romp in Whitemud Ravine.

It was a beautiful walk! The ravine is snow/ice free and trails were open and wonderfully soft underfoot. Stella seemed very happy to have so much to smell, and she had her first dip of the year in the creek (along with two annoyed geese). The area  where she had her swim, by the rickety boardwalk, has been cleared of trees and bushes. Apparently, both the boardwalk and the stairs will be replaced. I hope they do it in a timely fashion. Many trails in our river valley and ravines are in need of maintenance or repair, but so often, the areas are just blocked off.

The geese were NOT happy

During our walk, I was able to get a few chickadees to eat out of my hand, always so cheering. Unfortunately, it’s been so dry there were no frogs in the bog, parts of which was either frozen or dry. The rest of the walk was uneventful, although that final part through Westbrook I think was a bit hard on Stella. She seemed disappointed that none of the cars at the trail head were mine. The walk through the neighbourhood added an extra half hour, for a total of about two hours.

It was about 21C, I believe. We had one day in April that was 23C!

Stella on Saturday

 

Sunday in the Park with Stella (again)

It seems my only substantial walks these days are with Stella. I didn’t used to need a dog to go for a walk – but a walk is a walk and Stella is always good company.

Stella’s mom (my sister Sharon) and I wandered around Terwillegar with about a thousand other dogs. I’ve never seen so many dogs – tall dogs, short dogs, brown, black and blond dogs, racing dogs, ambling dogs, ball-dogs like Stella. Everybody getting along, everybody happy to be outdoors on a beautiful day.

In my estimation, we are having another crap winter, by which I mean a roller coaster of freeze and melt, and a lot of grey, overcast days which always leave me feeling blue and lazy. My memory could be faulty, but we’ve had more “warm” winter days in the last two or three years – where the melting snow leaves giant swaths of ice once the temperature falls (which is always does) – than we ever used to have. Maybe a bit of a melt in late January or February, but really only one or two episodes. Now, rain is a regular feature of our winters. On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing, but also on the surface is ice. Lots and lots of ice.

Sharon retrieving the ball that Stella lost down the hill.

My dream winter would be short and mild, and by mild I mean around -5C to -10C. Not too warm, not too cold, with just enough snow and lots of blue skies. Not what we get these days, which is black ice, grey skies, and annoyingly timed snow (like when I’m driving).

I also think that because I walk a lot less than what I used to, I’m not out finding ways to enjoy it. In 25 years of walking in the ravines and river valley of this city, I’m not sure I ever had one walk I regretted. I always found something beautiful, even on days when all colour seems sapped from the landscape. That’s what’s missing. I’m not out actively hunting for beauty.

Well, today was beautiful. Yes it was.

About 0C. 

Christmas Eve Day

Stella makes her case for a walk

I write this more than a week past my last ‘good’ walk and on my last day of work for the year. It’s Christmas Eve, and while I am here until noon, there is not much going on, so…

And also, this may prove to be my one and only post from December 2018, but I hope not. Surely there will be some walking opportunities over my week off? You see, that’s the difference between Donna pre and post 2011, when I moved over to the south side. Before, I would create the walking opportunities. It was very rare that I didn’t walk five or six times a week, even if it was just the short 25 minute commute home to Mill Creek. Now, I seem to wait for the perfect weather, or I don’t think about it at all. Sigh…

Stella and I in Whitemud Ravine

Funny how habits, ingrained habits, can vanish if the circumstances change. I moved out of my very walkable neighbourhood in 2011 to move in with Sharon’s family for a year, and I stayed for six. And now, back on my own for eight months, I’m still struggling to regain my old habit of making a daily walk my top priority.

In any case, last Friday, December 14, my office gifted us with a day off, a ‘shopping day’, and so while I did hit a mall at some point, I still managed to drive over to my sister’s place to take her dog, Stella, for a walk in a deserted Whitemud Ravine. It was almost creepy how deserted it was, and gloomy. It was book-ended by two beautiful blue sky days, but Friday was overcast and it felt very dark in the woods. Glad I had Stella with me for this reason, and a million more.

We had a good time. I wore my micro-spikes and they were extremely helpful. The trails are quite icy from the warm weather and occasional rain mixed with snow, which seems to be the norm these days. Stella, as usual, wore her naturally spiky nails.

A walk is a walk, though, and we had a good time.

I don’t remember what the temperature was, but not too cold. Probably around -2C.