I am taking part in The Woman Challenge as a member of the Lounge Quilters team. We each set our own exercise goals for this 8 week challenge and earn points toward our walk across America by meeting our goals and posting some exercise each day. Yesterday I did my walking on the Arkansas Riverwalk instead of just around my neighborhood. 15 years ago I was walking the MacKenzie Boulevard to Raynolds Avenue section (1 mile each way) almost every day. [That was before I was K Oed by the chronic illnesses I now live with.] In addition to being great exercise, it was also my meditation and re-creation time. Since I've been increasing my daily steps each week, I decided the time had come to return to the Riverwalk.
It was a gorgeous day, blue skies, sunshine, mid 80s temperature. I transferred Ursula Oxygen from her shoulder bag to her backpack, stuck my little digital camera in my pocket, picked up a handmade walking stick, and started walking.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed my walks along the river; huge cottonwoods, willows, Russian olive trees, wild plum thickets, and poison ivy [I keep my distance] are all draped with wild grape vines and the numerous varieties of green are a treat for the eyes. The river was high with Spring runoff, but not flooding this year. There is also an irrigation canal that takes out along this stretch and several creeks feed into the river as well as some marshy areas, probably caused by beavers building dams along some of the small creeks. In places there is a high bluff rising above the trail, on the south side, which is covered with trees and bushes. Small springs trickle down the bluff in several spots. This kind of lush greeness is welcome in our arid climate. You probably have to be prairie born and bred to love the big old cottonwood trees the way I do. Every once in a while I have to pull off one of the broad leaves, fold it the way my mother taught me, place it to my lips and blow through the top opening while pulling the bottom tightly to produce a loud raucous blast. I love showing my grandchildren how to do this from time to time. The child in me is still alive and well.
The Riverwalk is one of the favorite birdwatching spots in the area, and although I can't do much birdwatching while doing aerobic walking, I did see an Eastern Kingbird, and a mother Mallard with her little flock swimming behind her, as well as hearing the lovely songs of Yellow Warblers. Any day I see or hear a Yellow Warbler is a very special day.
I'd also forgotten the scents, which along with the sights and sounds, make this walk so enjoyable; the ripe smell of the marsh, the fresh sweet smells of green growing things, and the acrid scent of cottonwood leaves. As warm as it was the shady areas and the breezes were a welcome relief to the sunshine. Another thing I had forgotten; the overwhelming whine and stings of mosquitoes in the shady areas next to the marshes. Next time I'll remember the mosquito spray.
I walked the first three quarters of a mile and back this time. Next time I hope I can do the entire mile. The Riverwalk extends on west through Canon City to the old Tunnel Drive which leads up to the edge of the Royal Gorge. As my step goals get higher I can walk even further than this mile stretch. There is another section of Riverwalk from Florence east to the Florence River Park that I want to walk along also. The plan is that eventually these two sections will join so that there will be over 10 miles of Riverwalk through Fremont County. As the new Regional Park, west of Florence, is developed, the goal of joining the paths will that much further along.
One of the fun benefits of walking the western portion of the Riverwalk is seeing rafters floating along the river from the trail. There are even a couple of raft take out areas in our beloved Centennial Park in Canon City. This park is also where the Royal Gorge Tourist Train rides begin and end at the old railroad depot.
I appreciate the fact that the Parks and Recreation District has placed comfortable benches at intervals along the Riverwalk. One of my favorite cogitating spots is at the Raynolds Avenue end of this section of the trail where you get to the bench after a significant climb up the bluff to the road. The bench here overlooks a Beaver Pond at the side of the River and has a vista to the northern mountains across pastures and subdivisions. These are some of the subdivisions that now cover some of my formerly favorite hay fields. I'm not the only one who loves this area.
I'm glad I did this walk yesterday, because today we had a dirty gray sky and high winds from the south that blew over my patio furniture and even some limbs and trees in places. At least once each Spring we get this type of wind that is so bad that it blows sand from the National Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley over the Sangre de Christo and Wet Mountain ranges into our air. Not a good day to walk.