Being a young person living in the downtown area (or within city limits, at least) definitely has its benefits, but for many of us, this living situation brings with it a desire to get away from the elements that accompany city living.
One such consideration is the smell of some areas around town. Strolling or driving along Churchill Square, one can suddenly be hit with a vomit-inducing wave of odour emanating from the sewers. Driving past refinery row in the direction of Sherwood Park, a sour metallic smell clings to the air and invades your nostrils.
Then there’s the view of your surroundings. If you stop and slowly turn yourself around while out and about in the metropolitan hub of downtown, the entire space gives off a busy, hectic vibe, like being in the middle of a bee colony. The noises swarm around you relentlessly, and sometimes all you want to do is run from all that overstimulation.
Unfortunately, with work and school obligations and any number of other things, the ability to pack up some camping gear and go off to the mountains with some friends is almost impossible. However, all hope is not lost, as the city has within its limits a bunch of interesting forest paths and hilly plateaus to tromp about in. Now that spring has begun to gradually stretch itself awake, we are once again gaining the ability to head off onto the dirt trails and tree-lined paths of the river valley.
As restless and inquisitive people can attest, simply travelling throughout the urban areas, or sitting inside playing video games all day, becomes extremely tedious. Given Edmonton’s abundance of outdoor locations, such as Victoria Park, or even small enclosures just off highways and freeways like GoldBar Park, the possibility of going out and having an adventure is very real.
Admittedly, one big problem can arrive in the form of Edmonton weather and its consistent inconsistency. If you’re planning on braving a hike through the ravine, forgetting to check the temperature for the day may amount to a miserable time.
Another important consideration would be the severity of the wind. Although the temperature might only be 1ᴼC, the wind chill can be enough to cut through your clothes.
One fantastic feature of the river valley parks is the multitude of paths to take in and out of the lower valley area. These paths make it easy to enter and exit the bumpy and muddy terrain without committing yourself to a trail that may tire you out. Such ease of access adds another layer of attraction to delving down into the areas skirting the waters of the Saskatchewan.
Getting down to the river’s edge is a relatively simple feat of scrambling down the terrain surrounding it, but when journeying about down there, good shoes are a must-have. Half the fun can be found in meandering off the wider paths, and sliding and skipping up and down the hills, but this approach can result in becoming caked in mud.
A common sight on the trails is dogs leading the way while their owners lag behind. Interestingly, most of the people you might see down by the river are older individuals, in their forties and fifties. Not many younger people can be found, which is mildly confounding due to how much potential the area has for exploring off the beaten path.
At the end of the day, we are actually quite blessed to have such a large expanse of natural landscape to poke around in. We have a bounty of terrain worth exploring right here, in the heart of the city. Our river valley might not be as magnificent as, say, the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper, but it can do a lot to tide you over until you get a chance to leave the city. As the old idiom goes, “Take a hike!”
Photo by Madison Kerr.