Six-mile Coulee, Lethbridge
An after-work walk in the coulees, down to the river and south, a climb up for the view, and returning along the six-mile coulee creek. The valley is gradually greening, and wildflowers are blooming close to the ground. Buffalo beans, prairie smoke, prairie crocus, and bigger plants where there is more moisture - golden current, wolf willow, buffaloberries, Saskatoon bushes. Us walkers are outnumbered by the runners and mountain bikers on the trails, but I think we see more.
Location: Six-mile Coulee to the Oldman River, Lethbridge, Alberta
Length: 7 km
Date: 12 May, 2021
Cemetery Circumference, Lethbridge
First Friday walk - we took the trail known as the Boneyard Link along the coulee edge around the cemetery as the sun was going down, and wondered why we don't do this every evening.
Location: Around Mountain View Cemetery, Lethbridge, Alberta
Length: 4 km
Date: 7 May, 2021
First Friday walks - a project by Walking the Land arts collective.
“The potential of an activist art practice that raises consciousness about land, history, culture, and place and is a catalyst for social change cannot be underestimated, even though this promise has yet to be fulfilled. Artists can make the connections visible. They can guide us through sensuous, kinaesthetic responses to topography, lead us from archaeology and land based social history into alternative relationships with place. They can expose the social agendas that have formed the land, bring out multiple readings of places that mean different things to different people at different times.”
Lucy Lippard, 1997, The Lure of the Local: Sense of Place in a Multicentered Society.
Evening walk through the Hardieville ruins, all colour and crumbling concrete, and out to the bluff above the river. The pushy wind sent us back along the contours of the hills, sculpted in light and paced by runners.
Location: Hardieville to Pavan Park, Alberta
Length: 4 km
Date: 28 April, 2021
Medicine Hat Bridges
We threaded our way back and forth across the South Saskatchewan River, stopping downtown at the Station for a coffee on the sunny sidewalk patio. Chatted with the women at the next table, with chihuahuas on their laps dressed up for the outing - these are the small daily connections that are missing during the pandemic, part of the heart deficit that makes many of these days seem so heavy.
Location: Medicine Hat bridges, Alberta
Length: 3 km
Date: 17 April, 2021
Writing On Stone, Alberta
It was more of an amble and a scramble than a hike. We climbed among the hoodoos and walked along the river, making plans for summer camping and kayak trips, and confirming again and again how good, how important, how sane it is to be away from screens for the day.
Location: Writing on Stone Provincial Park & UNESCO World Heritage Site, Alberta
Length: 3 km
Date: 27 March 2021
Down to the River Again
The blue sky was undeniable. We met on 11th St. and walked the usual neighbourhood to coulees to river and back, having the loveliest conversation. Walking and talking.
Location: Southside Coulees to Oldman River, Lethbridge, Alberta
Length: 7 km
Date: 7 March 2021
Pavan Park, Lethbridge
A slate grey day, with a cold wind, but we were all game for a walk and some art talk. It's a rare pleasure to hang out with people - still at a distance, outside - after a year of pandemic. restrictions. I have always combined walking and socializing, but as the only way to visit in person, walks with people have taken on an importance that is hard to articulate. I've been trying to, and can't quite name it, but I know this: connection is essential.
Location: Pavan Park, Lethbridge, Alberta
Length: 4km + a hill
Companions: Troy, Gary, Bekk
Date: 6 March 2021
We meant to go snowshoeing in these hills, but there wasn't enough snow. So much joy from walking a hilly trail through the woods on a sunny winter day. This walk was the best thing about this year so far, we agreed, sitting on the tailgate with our feet dangling and drinking spicy hot chocolate from tin cups.
Location: Elkwater, Cypress Interprovincial Park, Alberta
Length: 3 km
Date: 20 February 2021
A measured 5-mile walk through town, down to the river and back. I call it the the City of Lions because, for some reason, there are a lot of guardian lions in this town. Not sure what that says about the place. The South Saskatchewan river is icy and splendid as always, the paths are slippery, and it's colder than you'd think.
Location: Redcliff, Alberta
Length: 8 km
Date: 24 January, 2021
Booze Run and Tree Shadows
After a day of working from home, we set out for a late afternoon walk to Andrew Hilton wine store. Some downtown meandering took us to Nakagama's Japanese food store and the Trianon Gallery too. The sun slid in sideways, until it finally went down well past five o'clock. Appreciating the longer days, although we still got home in the dark.
Location: Lethbridge downtown, around town, and back, Alberta
Length: 6 km
Date: 8 January 2021
Sandra Cowan likes to walk on trails, paths, and city streets. She is based in southern Alberta, Canada.