The gauzy, golden, end of the day in Edmonton is a spectacular time to get outside and explore the trails. This summer, Not ladylike Hikes changed up our routine and came together on Sunday evenings at 7:0pm. This gave folks who struggle with early AM on a weekend the opportunity to join in. And it offered us a chance to see Edmonton in a different – sunset – light.
I’ve started keeping “stats” for our hikes, not because I’m trying to beat any records here. But as another lens for remembering our adventures. Location is an easy one to track, and we visited 12 unique locations in amiskwaciwâskahikan.
- Ada Boulevard
- Fort Edmonton Footbridge
- Mactaggart Sanctuary
- Whitemud Creek
- Rundle Park and Strathcona Science Park
- Louise McKinney Park and Tawatina Bridge to Riverdale
- Mill Creek Ravine
- Victoria Park
- Eagle Point Provincial Rec Area
- Dawson Park
- Nellie McClung Park to Walterdale Bridge
- Terwillegar Park to Wolf Willow Stairs
- Moss Lake Detour in Elk Island National Park
I don’t track our time on each trail, because the goal is to be out for approximately one hour. And sometimes we spend time chatting or taking photos instead of hiking! That’s the “building community” part of our mission. I do, however, watch our distance, which can vary a lot depending on the intensity of the trail. Our shortest distance was ~2.5km in Mactaggart Sanctuary. And our longest was ~6km going from Terwillegar Park to Wolf Willow Stairs and back. Our (approximate) total kilometres for all 12 hikes is 53.5km! (33 miles).
The stats don’t tell all the stories though. And that’s what gets people coming out over and over again. Like our windy hike in Elk Island National Park, where all 22 of us (and 5 dogs) were spread out over almost 1 km! Or the time we had to act as parking attendants at Victoria Park. The stats can’t capture the colour of the sunset, or all the lovely dogs we’ve met. The stats can tell us that we had 6 new hiking enthusiasts join in this summer. But it can’t express the joy in meeting a new person. And the amusement from the rest of the group that Jo Ann sees someone she knows on almost every trail. We did 200 stairs at Glenora and got eaten by more than 200 mosquitos at Mactaggart Sanctuary. We finally saw a beaver in Whitemud Creek! (I’ve been promising this since 2020). The stories showcase the lovely community we are building, one hike at a time.
LET’S GET POLITICAL
No topic is off limits on our hikes, and I’ve heard folks talking about city projects, oil and gas, and mental illness. One topic that does come up a lot is climate change, and all the symptoms and potential solutions. I am very conscious of the fact that our evening hikes were very warm this year. And are likely only going to get warmer. I also think a lot about our parks system in general and how we can utilize some of its features and benefits to increase our collective resilience to the climate-changed future. What does foraging look like in our parks? And how can we help increase the amount of native species of trees, shrubs and plants? Where are the parks located? Who has easy access to these spaces? How can we expand access and use of our parks to benefit the bodies and minds (and overall health) of all small-c citizens? Where are the Indigenous leaders and people? I obviously don’t have ready answers to these questions. That’s because we need to be talking and resolving them in community. Maybe on the next hike? I’ll see you there.
RESOURCES AND FURTHER READING
Let’s Find Out podcast episode 41 “How We Make Nature”(listen here)
A Little Bit Ritchie podcast episode 4 “Portrait of Mill Creek Ravine” (listen here)
Edmonton Native Plant Society. To note, these folks clarify that there is a Bylaw in Edmonton that makes foraging on public lands illegal.
“Canada’s 1st urban Indigenous ceremonial grounds taking shape in Edmonton’s river valley” (Global News – watch and read here)
Learn more about the City of Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River Valley Area Redevelopment Plan here