The restorative power of a really long walk

As I type this, the Fitness app on my watch is reporting that I have completed:

  • 31,878 steps
  • 25.31 km

This is not just higher than my average daily going-out-and-aboot, it’s way higher. Was I tied to a runaway horse? Yes! Well, no. I decided to go for a walk to Burnaby Lake, to take photos of birds and soak in nature for awhile.

Weirdly, I chose to start this at 7 a.m. (I got up and had breakfast at 5:30). I got there shortly after 8 a.m., spent some time at Piper Spit, took about 350 photos, then continued to walk the entire lake loop and back home, returning just after 11:30 a.m.

A few observations on this early morning trek:

  • It was chilly starting out–only 2C. By the time I was back, it was up to 8C and fairly comfy.
  • Despite the chilly start, I only felt a little cold while snapping pictures at Piper Spit, since there was a breeze coming off the lake and my hands were naked while holding the camera.
  • Speaking of Piper Spit, there were only two people there, both at the far end of the pier with absurdly gigantic telephoto lenses on their cameras. I believe they were taking photos of the recently-returned swallows.
  • Speaking of Piper Spit even more, a lot of birds were snoozing at 8 a.m. and most were farther away from the pier, possibly because there was a noticeable lack of free food supplied by the public.
  • Even though I walked over 20 km as part of the trip there and back, it felt entirely manageable, as I broke it down into chunks, stopping and taking what were effectively breaks when I saw things to take pictures of.
  • The weather was perfectly decent, with little wind, and the sun eventually came out. I wore my lined hoodie and t-shirt and this was quite adequate. I also wore pants.
  • I didn’t see as many birds as I had hoped, but I still saw a bunch, plus two bunnies! No squirrels, though. Maybe it was too early for them.
  • I am very glad I went out.
  • Going early was aces, as the kids say. It’s already light at 7 a.m. and the only people around are joggers and people walking their dogs and wishing they were still in bed. So peaceful and still.

I will post select pics in a follow-up post. Yesterday was bad, but today did a lot to erase the bad, or at least smear it around so it’s less easily identifiable.

A few birds at Serpentine Fen

What the title says. I went there yesterday with Nic and given the unexpectedly warm and sunny conditions, we both got sunburned. But I also got a few decent pics. Here are a few bird-flavored ones.

A bald eagle flying high overhead just as we started out
A cormorant stretching its wings. It stayed frozen, statue-like, the entire time we walked by.
Great blue heron looking out across the river

American coot eating grass and being weird

Close to the borderline

The Canada-U.S. border, that is, not the Billy Joel song.

Here’s a mini-album of pics I took while Nic and I toodled around Boundary Bay and area on Saturday, November 28. The weather was cool but clear, with little wind. Perfect for picture-taking.

Me taking a photo of Nic taking a photo of the sunset at Crescent Beach
Sunset at Crescent Beach without Nic taking a picture of it
Sign in the public washroom at Centennial Beach warning you not to put happy little crabs in the urinals
Berries enjoying the sun at Centennial Beach
Two moons rising at Crescent Beach
Seagull log at Centennial Beach

A trip to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Nic and I went to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Saturday and I took a bunch of pictures with my iPhone 8…and my 12-year-old Canon Powershot SD1100. Why did I have my Canon digital camera with me? Because the battery on my iPhone has gone bonkers and barely lasts an hour. I also took a power bank with me and pretty much kept it tethered to the phone.

As a result, I have a lot of duplicate photos from both devices and the Canon held up quite well, given its age.

I also didn’t dress for the weather. I would have been fine, as it was clear and sunny and not too cold–around 8C–but once the wind picked up, I became jealous of the ducks and their down.

We didn’t see any snow geese, which was a bit of a bummer, but more reason to go back, especially since I now know to wear 15 layers.

A long walk to a sore heel

UPDATE, April 4, 2021: The injury took a long time to improve and then, after mostly disappearing, came suddenly back worse than before in December. My doctor identified it as plantar fasciitis. As of this update, the foot is much improved, but still not 100%. This is what you call a long term injury.

Today the weather was warm and sunny (after an initial forecast of mostly cloudy) and I couldn’t just sit inside while it was summer all over the place outside.

So, I went for a walk around Burnaby Lake, wearing my running stuff in case I started feeling extra zesty (more on this in a bit).

I felt pretty good heading out and indeed, my walking pace was a bit better than in recent months. That continued as I hit the 5K mark midway around the lake, still brimming with energy and feeling fine. I even started running off and on along the Southshore Trail.

The resurfacing of the Cottonwood Trail is coming along nicely and the notion that it will take until September to complete seems silly, as they are probably more than half done already (and were diligently working away when I walked through this afternoon). It will be spiffy for running when complete as this trail section has about a hundred billion exposed tree roots waiting for me and my feet.

There were more people out than perhaps expected, but it is summer and it was very nice out, with a breeze providing just enough cooling to keep it from feeling hot (it’s not really hot, but weather the last few weeks has been a little cooler than seasonal, so even 24C feels a bit toasty when you’re out in the sun).

I finished the loop just before 3 p.m. and as I exited the lake trail and crossed over to the river trail and the return home, I was still peppy. The peppiness finally began to fade around the 16 km mark, when my right hip began to feel a bit tweaked. It wasn’t bad and didn’t really slow me down. In fact, after a few minutes it worked itself and I continued to steam along. But then my left heel started to hurt. Weird.

It continued to hurt the remaining two km or so on the remainder of the walk and as I type this at 10:23 p.m., it is still sore. The right heel is fine.

I have no explanation for this, just guesses and crackpot theories:

  • The few minutes the right hip hurt, I overcompensated in favoring my left side, making my apparently brittle left heel very sore
  • The orthotic in my left shoe is sufficiently worn in the heel that it reached a breaking point where it started hurting instead of helping
  • aliens
  • previously unknown injury suddenly surfacing (aliens?)
  • karma, somehow (also the name of my next album)

It may be fine or better(ish) by morning, but it’s a sore note for what was otherwise a fine afternoon out. I was even delighted by unexpected wildlife, watching a crane hunt food and a turtle laying out on a log enjoying the sun.

Here’s a few photos before the hobbling started.

Just starting out, I thought this field of what is really just weeds looked interesting, but it didn’t turn out quite as I had expected. This field had previously been kept cut and served as a small park area. I’m not sure why it was decided to let it grow wild.

The classic shot of the lake from the bridge at Deer Lake Brook. I managed to tilt the view slightly, but was too lazy to fix it. Just pretend the earth was rotating too fast for me to compensate.

From the point just before the Cottonwood Trail, looking west.

The heron snatching a snack:

Close-up of heron from the shot above.

Toodling around Colony Farm Regional Park

Nic and I went to Colony Farm Regional Park looking for birbs and getting steps.

We accomplished both. Since I am using an iPhone 8 for my photos and its zoom capabilities can be summed up as “lol” I have no pics of birds to share.

But I do have a snail.

Here are some of the things I deemed worthy of taking pictures of.

Coquitlam River
Coquitlam River, looking south, with one of the spans of the Port Mann Bridge visible.
Spiky pink balls
Invasive but pretty tansy. These things grow in copious quantities along one of the trails.
The promised snail, happily sliming it up.
Man taking photo of man taking photo. Nic is wearing typically bright male plumage.
Marshland with technology lurking in the background.
Flowers of undetermined origin (I’ll edit this later when I’m not feeling lazy).
More tansies

Photo of the Day, June 27, 2020

Burnaby Lake special edition. Nic and I went to the lake so he could take pictures of birbs and when I gave him the option to go halfway around the lake or all the way, he went…all the way. We saw plenty of birds, but I stuck to subjects that didn’t move or require a telephoto lens.

Despite the ominous-looking clouds in the shots, the weather was pleasantly mild and it stayed dry.

Shot #1, my usual from the bridge at Deer Lake Brook:

Shot #2, with bonus lily pads:

A non-invasive berry:

Shot #4 from the rowing pavilion, which I had never been to before:

Nature walk: Stress reliever, stress inducer

I booked today off and went for a walk in the afternoon because it was pleasant out and I like pleasant things.

In The Truth Equation Neil Pasricha suggests doing one of three activities every day, for 20 minutes:

  • write in a journal
  • read fiction
  • walk among trees

Each activity is supposed to put you in a positive frame of mind, with the tree one working apparently because trees secretly spray you with feel-good chemicals or something. You know, like the spores in that episode of the original Star Trek, but les evil.

I ended up doing a full loop of Burnaby Lake and am a little pooped as a result, because I am soft and flabby. But it was nice.

And unnerving.

It was nice because the weather was warm but not hot, the breeze gentle and inviting. I stopped and took pictures (see below). It was everything Pasricha had promised in his book.

But of course, we are in the middle of a pandemic right now, so there are still signs all over asking everyone to stay 2 meters apart, don’t sneeze into each other’s faces and so on.

For stretches, especially the first few km, it was fine. There were few people out–it was a workday and most people, despite all the closures, are still working. But it is also a long weekend and others like me were obviously getting an early start. All good.

So, the walk was relaxing. Except when other people came by, because of the ones who passed me, there was exactly one small group of three that made an actual effort to make as much space as possible between them and me. Everyone else just walked straight by, as if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic.

Realistically, the chances of catching the virus while walking past someone outdoors is exceedingly small. I had no real need to be concerned. But it still created a tension that began to wear on me as I progressed around the lake. I even diverted temporarily onto the Freeway trail at one point just because I knew there would be few if any people walking it (there were a few cyclists, it turned out). But the Freeway trail is not very scenic and, being next to the freeway, is noisy. It’s the kind of trail you walk on if you have to, not because you want to. I returned to the Burnaby Lake loop at the second opportunity to do so and finished my walk.

Overall, it was fine. I get it, people are tired of walking on virtual eggshells, and of being cooped up all the time and being asked to stay home. Parks are one of the few public places that are open and available. But if what I saw today is an indication of how seriously people are treating physical distancing right now–well, let me say that I won’t be surprised if we see an uptick in cases in a few weeks.

On a more pleasant note, photos!

Burnaby Lake from the bridge over Deer Lake Brook
Buttercups and plenty of ’em
Wildflowers along Cariboo Place.
Another shot of the lake, with lily pads starting to cover the surface.

And finally, one last shot of the lake with the Metrotown towers in the distance and some god rays in the top left. At least I didn’t get my thumb in this one (something I’ve done several times recently for reasons unknown).

A walk through the plaguelands. Er, park

Nic and I went for a stroll around the southern half of Burnaby Lake today, taking pictures, enjoying nature and, of course, avoiding people.

The weather was mild, but cloudy and this probably scared a few people off. The majority of those on the trail seemed to be mindful to keep the 2 meters away, or at least as best they could manage, as much of the trail isn’t even 2 meters wide. There were a few dopes, of course, and a surprisingly large number of cyclists. The entrance to the park had a giant sandwich board in place basically saying TAKE YOUR BIKE ELSEWHERE. YES, YOU. But a lot of people are clearly ignoring these signs, perhaps because they think there is no enforcement right now–which may be true, as I did not see any park people or vehicles.

I did see greenery, water and ducks, some of which are below.

First, the standard shot of Burnaby Lake, taken from the bridge at Deer Lake Brook. You can see the baby lily pads popping up all over, as well as the general greenery filling in along the shore.

Next is the little pond adjacent to the lake with a partially sunken log that is popular with ducks. The pond is smaller than usual as we haven’t had much rain for a few months. But the ducks were still there.

This pond is nearby to the other one and nicely captures the fact that the area around the lake is marshland.

And there were a number of these signs dotting the sides of the trail reminding us that we live in COVID times. As I said above, people were generally pretty good about not getting elbow to elbow, though there’s always a few dingbats out and aboot.

Nic was using his telephoto lens to capture amazing shots of birds. Meanwhile I managed this with my iPhone 8:

If I crop as much as I dare, you can see this:

It’s not great, but at least you can tell they are birds. They preened for a bit, then took off, probably because we were standing there staring at them.

Overall, it was a nice outing and the cloudy weather likely worked to our benefit, keeping crowds down. It would have been great running weather, so I may vow yet again to try next weekend to get off the treadmill and into nature and all that.

A stroll around (half of) Burnaby Lake

Yesterday Nic and I took a break from the pandemic to stroll around and take pictures at Burnaby Lake, roughly up to the halfway point before taking the SkyTrain back. Ironically, social distancing was far easier on the SkyTrain (virtually empty) compared to the trails at the lake, as it was sunny, mild and packed with people. And ducks. And pigeons. And poopmonsters.

Here are a few pics I took along the way with my iPhone 8. Nic’s DSLR with a telephoto lens that could double as a murder weapon took better close-ups, but hey, you work with the tools you have. These pics are still better than what my vintage 2008 digital camera could do.

Still Creek being true to its name .

Looking west over the lake, not a lilypad in sight.

Fungus in the forest.

And the obligatory duck picture taken at Piper spit:

I stared at myself while eating gelato today

At the conclusion of our afternoon of walking a whole lot, Nic became quietly obsessed with having some gelato for dessert. After fruitlessly searching along Davie Street, he turned to technology (Google) to save us and we made our way to a place near Robson and Bute. They have a row of seats along a counter and on the wall in front of the counter is a large mirror. This means you get to stare at yourself while eating your gelato. I found it mildly unnerving. Then I took a picture of myself in the mirror, with my eyebrows slightly raised, because this is apparently a thing I do nearly every time I take a picture of myself. I don’t know why.

It’s gelato, not poo, I swear.

The perspective is kind of weird in the shot, because my right hand looks to be about the same size as my head, which it is not.Also, I am not a goth despite all the black I’m wearing. Not to my knowledge, anyway (I do own three albums by The Cure.)

I walked 33,164 steps today

That’s 26.44 km. The number will actually go higher before I got to bed, unless I magically teleport around the condo for the rest of the evening.

Nic and I went for a walk around the Stanley Park seawall. As it was a beautiful, sunny day it was packed with people the way a Snickers is allegedly packed with peanuts. We delighted in the scenery, even as we had to avert our eyes from the men who had taken their shirts off to expose their extremely white flesh. It’s definitely early summer.

In a rare turn of events, I did not get sunburned, but Nic did get some red on the back of his neck. [Nelson laugh here]

I’ll slap together some of the better photos, but for now here’s one I like of the underside of the Lions Gate bridge.