I (accidentally) started another club?!
I know! I know! I run a lot of clubs! But this one is a club that isn’t called a club, does that count?
At any rate…on Saturday we hike.
Aka why did I start this? Well, mostly for selfish reasons actually. I got some summer FOMO seeing everyone’s glorious mountain photos. Summers in general are busy for my family, and big adventures aren’t usually in the cards (without a lot of planning, which exhausts me just thinking about). I planned a last minute day hike out to Grande Cache with Dan one Saturday. And it was amazing. I felt so refreshed, energized, and satisfied. But I couldn’t justify a 8 hour round trip drive every weekend. Thank goodness you don’t need to go to the mountains to hike.
DID YOU HEAR THAT EVERYONE IN ALBERTA?! I SAID YOU DON’T NEED TO GO TO THE MOUNTAINS TO HIKE. Or have an adventure! We have so many interesting and beautiful places close by to explore. You just have to know where to look (which can be an impediment to some folks).
Part two of this new thing I accidentally started is that I heard from many of my friends/friendlies that they were dreading the coming COVID winter. Outdoor gatherings have been normalized, but how do you gather when it gets cold?
Well, first off, winters in Edmonton aren’t as cold as they used to be. We get a lot of mild days now, and I am sick of the rhetoric that Edmonton is -40 for 6 months. It’s not. Get your head out of your ass. As long as you dress for the weather, you’re fine to do outdoor activities. And most of my followers and friends have the financial means and access to appropriate winter clothes & gear.
It sounds harsh, yes, but I am sick of (privileged) Edmontonians complaining about the weather here. Like, I get angry when I hear it. While I try to adjust my knee-jerk reactions, I am using OSWH as a gateway for folks to see that as long as you come prepared, Edmonton in the winter is a lovely place to be.
OFF MY HIGH HORSE?
Now that I’ve done my soap box routine for the blog, I can move on! Sort of! At the start of our first October hike, we encountered a “hiking club”. These folks were dressed for hiking (poles, technical clothes, boots, etc.), and were all white, straight-sized, and 40+ in age. They had a leader and rules (single file!) and were very official looking. I had a pinch, a flash of doubt when I saw them. What makes what I was trying to do any different from a regular hiking club?
I looked into my heart, and I looked at my inspiration. Unlikely Hikers, Outdoor Journal Tour, Brown People Camping. These are all folks (and there are more) who are pushing the boundaries of who “gets” to experience the outdoors. I would have fit into that hiking group I saw at Bunchberry Meadows. I can look like a stereotypical hiker if I want to. But I don’t want to. I want to welcome all folks to “On Saturday We Hike”, especially those people who might not think they belong, or might not know they belong.
And I’m betting that those people might also be really struggling as we move into our COVID winter. Walking and hiking is so good for the brain and the body. And one of my personal strengths is getting outside in all types of weather. I wanted to extend that strength to the folks in my life who might need a little push.
I am still working on my weaknesses - directly inviting folks, de-whitening this space - but I hope that with time, this little “hiking club” will grow into something bigger.
RESOURCES & FURTHER READING
One of the side benefits of this new "Club" is that I am able to do some community organizing around the UCP government's plan to delist and privatize over 160 Alberta provincial recreation and natural areas.Here are some articles I have been reading on the topic of "parks".
A Reluctant Steward: Alberta & Its Parks by Jessica Dewitt (Active History). I am going to blast the crap out of this article for the foreseeable future.
Then, take a look at this short read to learn a bit more about Alberta (and Canada's) history with delisting parks. Delisted: Alberta Parks Lost & Forgotten by Kirsten Olson (CPAWS)
Albertans Love Their Parks - So Why Close Them? by Melanee Thomas (Sprawl Calgary)
Provincial parks aren't the only thing I am interested in. I really enjoyed this article about our National Parks. Mandate Creep: National Parks and Tourism by Kevin van Tighem (Alberta Views)
I quickly mentioned earlier in my article that another reason I started this group is to help folks get out and gather during our cold winters. Imagine my GLEE when I came across this article! Why Your Brain Actually Works Better in Winter by Christian Jarrett (The Cut).
Seasonal Affective Disorder is definitely a real thing, and I would never minimize folks' experiences with it or other forms of seasonal depression. While I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, I do know that physical activity and spending more time outdoors during the say can help ease SAD symptoms.
I pull a lot of info about the trails ahead of time from All Trails. A free subscription gets you access to full maps, which I find very helpful in places where there aren't signs (aka most of Alberta). You can make lists and do recordings of your hike, and really there are a lot of features that I find very intimidating. Please keep that in mind if you are checking out this site. As a newbie, I highly recommend checking out the map, the elevation changes, and the reviews (for trail closures, if it's wet, what to expect in terms of technical difficulty, etc.) when choosing a new trail.
This is the hike that "inspired" On Saturday We Hike. Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area is located outside of Grande Cache, Alberta, which is the traditional territory of the Cree, Blackfoot, and Metis peoples, and current home to the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation.