You don’t have to go off the beaten path to enjoy the Wild of Edmonton – in fact it is better if you don’t! Leave the ‘off-trail’ activity to our sister species who do not have river valley and ravine trails made for them. My spot is a series of ‘spots’ – the incredible trail going east from Hawrelak Park into Kinsman Park plus the incredible trail going west from Hawrelak Park into Fort Edmonton Park. This area, and those like it in Edmonton, are often the first introduction that people have to our ‘Wild City’ and form the basis of whether they might become further informed and interested in Nature. Regardless of the season, the trail is incredible. Walk, bike, run, jog, roll or ski – it is all an eco-experience. One season I cycled 3000 km along that particular 3-5 km stretch of pathway. People asked me how I could do the ‘same’ stretch? How did I not get bored seeing the ‘same’ thing almost every day for months? And this is where our challenge as Master Naturalists lies. I was never bored because the trail with everything on and around it is DIFFERENT every single day, even everypart of the day! Ever-changing, always something new, Life happening all around as the seasons flow into each other. The challenge becomes not only to encourage more Edmontonians to use and enjoy the eco-trails, but to entice and educate Edmontonians to actually see what their eyes often merely scan. Is it winter or summer? Spring or Summer? Sure, people can tell by the state of the dry, muddy or snowy trail, but can they tell by the state of Life all around the trail? Leaves, flowers, seeds, birds, insects, little critters – the trail is different every day, wonder-fully marvelously different! Really SEE it! Really KNOW it!
Mika Benjamin, Edmonton Master Naturalist 2015