A perfect summer day. The campgrounds are full, and Elkwater Lake beach is crowded. The trails weaving through the hills and valleys above the town, however, are almost empty - cool, shady, green, and quiet. There are only a few mountain bikers, red squirrels, and maybe an unseen cougar in the trees. I think about forest-bathing: it certainly feels good, peaceful, even nourishing, to be among these trees.
Location: Elkwater, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta
Length: 5 km
Date: 30 June, 2019
Kokanee Creek, BC
With a morning coffee and pastry in my backpack, I walked up the Canyon Trail in between the noisy creek and the silent trees. This region is where the legend of the Sasquatch lives, and I like the idea of these large, intelligent beings living in the mountains and eluding all human contact. I had my breakfast on an overhang gazing down at the rushing, tumbling water. It wasn't until I was almost back to the road that I realized I had left a paper wrapper behind, and hiked back up the trail to retrieve it - it was still there, and I saw so much more the second time around.
Location: Kokanee Creek Provincial Park on Kootenay Lake, British Columbia
Length: 4 km
Date: 12 June, 2019
Shore Walk, Gabriola Island, British Columbia
My lungs open and my heart softens when I'm in a place like this. The air smells like salt and seaweed, and there's a small cool breeze. The tide is coming in. There's a fierce confusion of waves just off shore, where an inlet rushes in from around the island and tumbles over the current. A trail through the woods, along the shore, then picking my way back among the rocks, driftwood, barnacles and sea plants. I wish I could stay longer.
Location: Drumbeg Provincial Park, Gabriola Island, British Columbia
Length: 2 km
Date: 8 June, 2019
Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC
From getting off the bus in Stanley Park to stepping onto the water taxi going to Granville Island, this is the middle walk in full day of walking and talking and pausing and post-conference decompressing. We walk through the shady forest of Stanley Park, so green and ferny and mossy and calm, and out to the beaches. Scrambling and ambling along the beaches is the slowest and most delightful bit. The hidden shore at low tide, the crabs and clams, the beach treasures; and we follow the shoreline and the shorebirds back into the city.
Location: Vancouver, BC
Length: 6 km in a 15 km day
Companions: Lydia & Mary
Date: 5 June, 2019
Flathead Lake, Montana
"Enjoy walking like you enjoy eating." - Anam Thubten Rinpoche, on walking meditation.
Location: Flathead Lake silent meditation retreat, Montana
Length: 3 km
Companions: Troy & others
Date: 30 May, 2019
One last walk around Copenhagen punctuated by many stops:
-Early on, for coffee in the sun on a pedestrian street near the library.
-At Nyhavn to photograph the over-photographed canal houses and boats, visit Trine Fournais pottery shop, and use the cleanest public bathroom I've ever seen.
-On the Inderhavnsbroen new bike- and footbridge across the harbour to admire the view and the architecture.
-At an exhibit by Faroese painter Anker Mortensen.
-To eat a picnic lunch harbourside and watch people jumping in to swim. This is amazing for a couple of reasons - for one, the Baltic Sea is very, very cold in May! For two, it's wonderful that the water is clean enough for swimming in this inner city harbour, due to Copenhagen's commitment to being a "green city".
-At the graffitti- and art-filled alternative autonomous community (i.e. anarchist commune) of Freetown Christiana, on the edge of the upscale island neighbourhood of Christianshavn, to people-watch on Pusher Street.
-On several canal-side benches along the way, to rest my cobblestoned feet.
Location: Downtown & Christianshavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
Length: 10 km
Date: May 18, 2019
I left the conference at the university to go for a walk around town. Wandered through the Botanical Gardens, with its blooms and interesting trees and people soaking up the sun; then along the famous cobblestone streets lined with very tidy, very old small houses, until I found downtown. Dipped into the thousand-year-old Lund Cathedral for a few minutes, and continued on around the town. I've been here such a short time, but there are some things I really like about Sweden: the steep roofs and clean lines of the buildings; people on foot and on bicycles far outnumber the cars; smells of lilac and cinnamon; they let the grass grow long and the dandelions bloom. I ended up walking through the Kyrkogården again on my way back to where I'm staying. It's the place that is my magnetic centre in this town - no matter how lost I get, every day I end up back there among the flowers and the tombstones.
Location: Central Lund, Sweden
Length: 6 km
Date: 16 May, 2019
Anti-dérive, Copenhagen, Denmark
The dérive, or drift, is a kind of urban walk in which the walker aimlessly wanders the city, following no map, visiting off-limits spaces, getting to know the hidden, unseen, and neglected parts of the city.* With only one day in Copenhagen my walk was the exact opposite. I followed a tourist map's self-guided walking tour though the most scenic and well-known parts of the old centre of town. The dotted line on the map took me past canals lined with colourful houses and houseboats, Queen Margrethe's palace, the main city squares and the cutest crooked old streets, and of course to the city's famous twice-decapitated little mermaid. Jetlag had me taking a couple of long breaks at the ubiquitous Espresso House Coffeebar, and at 8km or so, I had to take a shortcut back to my hostel.
*The dérive, or drift was a psychogeographical walking practice defined by Guy DeBord and the Situationist International (SI), a mid-20th-century radical avant-garde French group of artists and theorists. The dérive, with its deliberate purposelessness and disorientation, is a practice of walking in cities that subverts the expected use of urban spaces. It was one of the radically disruptive measures or détournements that the SI used to undermine the capitalist system.
Location: City Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Length: 11 km
Date: 13 May, 2019
The Flats, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Morning walk to Medalta. Downtown coffee, graffitied tunnel under the railway tracks. Through the Flats, getting lost as always on streets that bend in unexpected ways. Industrial Ave. to the old manufacturing part of town, where they used to make dishes and crocks and bricks. Clay-filled hills rise up all around, like an arm hugging this neighbourhood close to the river. Work day much improved by walking there.
Location: Downtown to Medalta, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Length: 3 km
Date: 24 April, 2019
River Valley Park, Redcliff, Alberta
A sunny Sunday walk down by the river sandwiched into a full weekend, sharing the trail with dogs, horses, walkers, cyclists. Spring comes comes slowly here, but it comes to the river valley first.
Location: River Valley Park, Redcliff, Alberta
Length: 3 km
Companions: Heather, Daryle, Tom
Date: 21 April, 2019