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And…I’m back

Walterdale Bridge (Walt Jr.)

It took me awhile to write that last post about my injury, and throughout the writing and beyond, I’ve been walking. A lot. Yesterday (Sunday) was my longest walk since Scottsdale. Two and a half hours, 16, 887 steps. I would say that six weeks after my slip on the ice, I am fully recovered. I suppose if I were to trip again, always a possibility, I could re-injure my hamstring, but so far so good.

It’s proper Spring, and yesterday was warm (23C) so Tom and I left early, around 10 am. The route I chose was down into the river valley, across the LRT bridge, and then a loop from the Kinsmen to the Walterdale Bridge, Rossdale, and then back again. Once we crossed River Road on the way back, however, we walked up the trail below Victoria Park Road.

Clouds moved in for awhile, and then moved out. View from Victoria Park Road.

Most of my walks have either involved walking to work (semi-weekly, for an hour or two, up Emily Murphy Hill and back home over the High Level Bridge), or various routes to ‘pick up’ Tom on his way over to my place. Since he spends most evenings with me, I often walk over to his place and then we walk back to mine. (He hardly drives anymore, preferring to walk). Lately, I’ve been walking to his place via MacKinnon Ravine and the steep hill up to Glenora. One thing I haven’t done yet is walk on an unpaved trail. The fear of tripping over a tree root is still there, but dissipating.

Magpie public art in Rossdale
Goose Patrol
Gosling patrol

Walking is not what it used to be. People are still friendly but the social distancing can be awkward, and still feels super rude. However, it’s what we gotta do…

Because I haven’t written in the blog since early May, here are a bunch of photos from my walks, in somewhat chronological order.

Dandelions! April 20, my first hill walk since the injury

April 27: “A sunny lunchtime walk in the river valley today, my longest walk yet (since the injury). Walked down Victoria Park Road, under the Groat Bridge, up through MacKinnon Ravine, up the steep hill to the bridge, and then back home through Glenora/Oliver. The ice has mostly melted from the river, but the shore still has bergs. Highlight – spotted my first snake in years, a little garter snake, sunning himself on a log. He slithered away before I could take a photo. I also ran into a friend, Teresa, and caught up on our remote working lives. Her sister also had a hamstring injury, requiring surgery. I am SO lucky I have almost fully recovered, without any medical intervention. About 18C.”

April 27, MacKinnon Ravine
April 27, right around where I saw the snake.
Still April 27…
April 27: MacKinnon Ravine bridge from below
April 27: MacKinnon Ravine bridge from above
May 3 walk with Tom: MacKinnon Ravine
Glenora
May 13: “My good deed for the day. On my after-work walk I came across a beetle who was upside down and struggling to right him(or her)self. So I helped him(her), and he(she) beetled off. As many know, I am a fan of beetles. Take care, little friend.”

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.

Happy September!

I was really tardy posting about my walks, so I wrote a whole bunch and backdated them, and even that was a week-long process. Today, I am actually writing on the day of my walk! It’s only September 1 and things are already looking up!

With ever-present threat of rain, I left around 10:45 am, entering the river valley via the Victoria Park golf course, and then over to river road. Tom had mentioned that the trail up to Glenora (near Groat Road/MacKinnon Ravine) was fenced off, so I wanted to check for myself. There had been a lot of erosion, and the red plastic fence they put where the trail had sloughed off late last year had also sunk into the ravine. As I walked up the hill, I could see that the entire trail is now blocked off by a frost fence. They’re not fucking around. No way to get around it. So I came back down and continued west along the trail, exiting on the MacKinnon Ravine bridge (142 Street). It was cool outside but humid, so I had my coat off and tied around my waist about 15 minutes in. There’s definitely some yellow leaves but still mostly green. The sky, however, was gun metal grey.

View from MacKinnon Ravine bridge

Once I was across the bridge, I continued to wind around the road, the river valley to my right, and then into Glenora. I wanted to check to see if the trail head was also fenced off, and it was. The City of Edmonton trail closures site says that it’s temporary, but I know these things often take years to resolve, if they ever are. Last week, Tom and I walked around Mill Creek Ravine, and part of the north trail is cut off because of erosion, which makes the second closure in that ravine (between the mill and the ‘first’ bridge). That initial one has been closed off for years. Some trail infrastructure funds would be great. This city spends so much on the LRT expansion, and meanwhile, our beautiful trails are falling apart.

Photo: City of Edmonton

After Glenora, I just walked down 102 Avenue to home. It’s now four hours later and it still hasn’t rained. Environment and Climate Change Canada confirmed there were 54 days of rain between June and August in the Edmonton area. This is the second rainiest summer since 1996, where there were 59 days of rain. We might look back on this summer longingly, but for now, I need some sun!!

13-15C/10:45-12:30

Is that…the sun?

God knows I love a rainy day. If I am not at work, it’s like free time. I don’t feel pressured to do anything but read. And drink coffee. And listen to the lovely sound of raindrops on kittens, or something like that. But this is getting ridiculous. We’ve had so much rain from mid-June to now, mushrooms have become the official plant of Edmonton, and I swear some of them are becoming sentient.

According to local weatherologist Josh Classen this is only the second rainiest period (June 1-July 7) in the recent past at 138 mm of rain, and we’ve had more rain since he made that graphic. However, enough complaining. Yesterday evening (Wednesday), the clouds broke after an exceedingly gloomy day, and the sun and blue sky were like a spa day and jail break rolled into one. It was beautiful.

I drove over to Sharon’s for dinner, and a walk with Stella. We walked along the powerline and then into Whitemud Ravine. The creek, as expected, was very high and fast which made Stella even more nervous about crossing the wooden bridge, but she made it and we had a great time. She looked particularly lovely nosing about in the clover.

The good thing about the rain is the lushness of the foliage, and a reprieve from the always looming drought, but today it’s once again overcast and cool. Looking forward to my day off on Friday which is supposed to be sunny and warm. O Great Mushroom Lord of the Sky, let it be.

Whitemud Creek

Wednesday (19C) 7:20 – 8:15 pm    

Holiday Walks

I’ve been off since June 27, a little more than a week. Unlike last year at this time, which was sweltering, May and June have been cool and wet, and July has started off unseasonably cold as well. I don’t want to complain, because my place gets very hot, and rain is always good, buuuut…it’s been tough to plan a lot of outdoor activities. Also, it’s the tail end of worm season, so some of my usual paths are still off limits. Nevertheless, I’ve had a few good walks, and yesterday was one of the best walks in recent memory.

Sharon, Stella and I went to Goldbar Park. I’ve only been there once (with Sharon and Maggie), because it’s on the far east side of Edmonton, but wow, it’s fantastic! It straddles Rundle Park, and it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, but both were spectacular, and the weather was perfect. Blue sky, no rain, and about 15C, which was fine for a morning walk.

We started off by crossing the Ainsworth Dyer footbridge, which is almost exactly like my old love, the Cloverdale pedestrian bridge at Louise McKinney Park (sacrificed for the incoming Valley Line LRT). The difference is that some park vehicles can cross it, but other than that it’s the same wooden and steel expanse, open to the sky, and creaky underfoot. Stella hates bridges where she can see a bit of the water through the slats. It scares her, so she walks very slow and low.

Right off the bat, I spotted a pelican, but I only brought my phone, so no good photos. Lots of swallows too.

Ainsworth Dyer bridge

The park(s) are full of water features. Mini-lakes, streams, sloughs, multiple bridges, and lots of birdlife. Stella helped herself to one duck-filled pond, and was super happy just trotting around the park, wet and sparkly in the sun.

We looped around Rundle and then followed an unpaved path along the river in Goldbar, which is off-leash. I was totally paranoid about Stella wandering off into the river, which is running very high and fast, but a combination of my yelps, Sharon’s calm assertiveness, and eventually, the return of the leash, kept this curious water dog out of the drink.

Fantastic walk, in good company, under beautiful skies.

The previous day (Wednesday) Tom and I walked through Glenora/Ravine Drive in the late afternoon. It too was a great walk, under mottled grey skies and some sun. Such a beautiful neighbourhood, with amazing views of the river valley. We used to walk together more, but it’s fallen off the radar of late. I blame hockey, binge-watching series like, most recently, Deadwood, and rain/cold.

River valley from Glenora

View from Glenora bridge (142 Street)

The night before, Tuesday, I really wanted to go for a walk in the afternoon, but Tom was still asleep (he’s largely nocturnal), and the early evening looked wet, so although we didn’t go together, I threw on my running shoes and headed out around 6:15 pm. Happily, there were no worms hanging from the trees along Victoria Park Road or even River Road, but the bad news was that I was chasing a big, black cloud and I lost. By the time I was mid-way through McKinnon Ravine, the rain started. I got pretty soaked. There was a big rainbow over Groat Road, but it was still raining at that point and I didn’t want to risk ruining my phone. Nearing 124th Street, the rain stopped. I’m glad I went for that walk. It felt like something the old Donna would do. Priorize a walk over just about everything.

Chasing clouds through McKinnon Ravine