Snow Valley Hike

The weather was bleak and blizzardy, but our minds were made up. As we discovered at the coffee shop, the four of us had the same goal—to get out of the house and work off the Christmas eating and excesses.

For we were familiar with the rewards of hiking Edmonton’s Snow Valley trail: after you have passed through the parking lot, you are walking in the quiet shelter of Whitemud Ravine’s stately old spruce forest.

At the look-out point, we stopped and sprinkled bird seed on the railing. Sure enough, on the way back, we saw that a small crowd of chickadees had settled in for the treat.

Our lunch was at the Alfred Savage Centre. After that, we pressed on to John Janzen Nature Centre—adding 5 more kilometers to the day’s distance.

On our way back, the sun came out and warmed our faces. The other delight was running into David Mutch, who had planned to join us but got a late start. Better late than never. For the record, we’re giving David credit in our hike statistics.

Many thanks to John Scotvold for leading the hike. You can see all the photos on Flickr.

Kinsmen to Legislature Evening Hike

Nineteen people came out to celebrate this evening hike, the first of our city hikes this winter. There were old familiar faces and some new faces too. The hike was an opportunity to meet new people and get reacquainted with old friends.

As darkness fell, we walked eastward on the trails below Saskatchewan Drive, from the new 105st bridge to the Low Level Bridge. A few times we stopped a few times to take in the city skyline across the river.

After crossing the river and we continued through Irene Parlby Park and stopped to sing a Christmas carol. It could have been an image on a Christmas card—carolers in wool hats and scarves, standing under a street lamp, with elegantly decorated Victorian-style houses in the background.

The hike continued across the new footbridge, then under the 5th Street Bridge and the High Level Bridge. Turning at the Royal Glenora Club we climbed the staircase out of the river valley and reached the Legislature. Inside, we warmed up while listening to the Christmas concert. Then we returned across the High Level Bridge.

Half of us went on to Rosso, a restaurant, at the end of the bridge, and ended the evening with Christmas cheer.

You can see more amazing night-time photos on Flickr.

Best Footwear Tips for Winter

Icy pathA big concern of people who are new to winter hiking is “What do I wear on my feet?”

And who can best answer that question? Seasoned hikers!

We’re not going to tell you the best boots to buy, because we wouldn’t dare. Instead we’ll give you our best tips that come from years of “research” and knowledge.

And you’re going to discover that it’s not all about the boots.

Warmth and fit

So, do you actually need “winter” hiking boots? That’s up to you.

Some hikers wear the same boots year-round. Others have boots in a size or half-size larger to accommodate extra socks.

But when you buy hiking boots—for any season—use this tip from the University of Alberta’s Mountains 101 course. Pull out the foot-bed from the boot, place it on the floor, and step down on it. If your foot doesn’t fit neatly on the foot-bed, the boot does not fit.

Grips…spikes…cleats

A 2016 Canadian study found that very few “anti-slip” boots are effective on ice. (You can check the rating of several brands at ratemytreads.com.)

We believe every person who lives on the prairies should have an ice-gripping product that fits on the bottom of their boots. To find products that stand up to hikes and long walks, visit stores like Campers Village (Waskahegan members get 10% off), workwear stores, and Canadian Tire. There are many sturdy solutions in a wide price range that pull on or strap on.

Waskahegan member Jim Wilson adds, “I have been operating with leather hiking boots insulated with Thinsulate—this is my year-round choice. For winter I install 6 screw-in cleats per boot. It gives better security on hard pack.

“They are a little funny on pavement…and stay out of the house!”

Gaiters

Even “waterproof” boots can get wet inside through snow accumulating on top of your boots.

Gaiters not only keep the moisture out of your boots, but they keep the lower half of your pants protected from snow and slush.

We wear our gaiters on hikes all year round, as they keep us clean and dry from wet grass and mud.

Socks

Hiking socks must be made of a moisture-wicking material, like wool or nylon.

Cotton is trouble, as it holds moisture and keeps your feet damp.

Wet boots

A former member, Marilyn Bourassa, told us she had spent a Saturday at trail maintenance in a boggy area and soaked her boots right through. That evening she tore up sheets of newspaper, balled them up, and packed the balls tightly into her soggy boots. The next morning, she pulled out the balls. Her boots were perfectly dry for wearing to the Sunday hike that morning.

I’ve used this technique—paper plus pressure—many times to dry out boots. It always works.

 

We believe that everyone would enjoy winter more if they had the right gear. For winter hikes and long walks on local trails, your safety and comfort start with the feet. If you find these tips useful, go ahead and hit one of the share buttons below.