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
Sandra Cowan likes to walk on trails, paths, and city streets. She is based in southern Alberta, Canada, a visitor in the land of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy).