The starting point was the North Saskatchewan River, which continues to rush like it’s spring. The river seems a long way from freezing up, even though it is now January. (Go North Saskatchewan River!)
Walking through the steep forested ravine is an experience that always makes us feel small—the side slopes and the trees are gigantic. The ravine also gives us a feeling of peacefulness and sanctuary—as if we have dipped into a crack in the earth to escape the noise and distraction of urban life and everyday concerns.
The town’s trail at the north end, above the golf course, is now a Trans Canada Trail. It’s well used and frequented by squirrels and birds. This squirrel, holding a hazelnut in its mouth, stayed put while we snapped picture after picture.
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.
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.