The Time I Got Lost on the BOIS-DES-ESPRIT Trail

You are all going to get a laugh out of this story. The title says it all, but before I get to that anecdote I will talk about this trail a wee bit. The Bois-Des-Esprit is a lovely trail nestled in a urban forest. I had the pleasure of walking this trail earlier this year with members of Save our Seine as a field trip for one of my University of Manitoba classes. This trail is a great example of ecosysteIMG_2383m management. To preserve habitat like this in an urban setting is great, not only for the animals and plants, but for the residents of the area. This small green way boosted the property value of the surrounding homes. I will be returning.

The main path is gravel, which is nice for bikes and pedestrians, not so great for skateboards and roller-blades. However, the gravel keeps this trail feeling like a forest trail you would find in a provincial park, so I would not recommend changing it. The process of making the path paved would also disrupt the wildlife and the surrounding vegetation. The only complaint I had about this trail was that some parts had muddy/wet spots. This was probably due to the high volumes of rain we had. I enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of this path, which is good for a nice afternoon walk. I also appreciated the shade because my pale skin is sensitive to sunburns.

IMG_2415There are many little wonders of this trail. Wood carvings, a foot bridge, lovely benches, and varying natural components are just a few. In such a small area you can view so many different ecosystem types. I also discovered a tree which a couple has claimed as a testimony to their love. See picture to the left. There may or may not be a gem around here.

So now to the story you all have been waiting for. Yes, I got lost. Here is how it happened. I was walking about trying to find cool places for hiding gems. Looking at my map, I thought I had a good idea of where I was. I noticed that I had passed a small path marked on the map as “other trails” and this particular one I believed to be the way to Woody, the large wood carving that I hoped to place a gem near. So, veering off the gravel trail, I made my way down the mud path. Before I know it I come to a turn that is definitely not marked and the path extends for a long while. Now I am confused and definitely not on my way to see Woody. I turn back around and I come to a fork in the little mud paths that I didn’t see on my way in. Crud. I must have miss-read my location to begin with and now I do not know which little mud path I am on. Here I will note that the map we have on our website does not list all the little trails people have made for themselves and I am not sure if I am on an actual “other path” or a unmarked trail. So I decide to light the flares I have in my backpack and hunker down to be found. Just kidding. I made my way down these trails until I found the familiar gravel path of the main trail and make my way out of the forest. By this point I was sweaty and tired and had been walking for an hour or so and wanted to go home. So long Woody, we will meet again one day.

Written by: Samantha Worden (Sam)

Sam is a Trails Analyst summer student with The Winnipeg Trails Association. She is working towards a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Manitoba with a focus in Natural Resource Management. Her hobbies include reading, bike riding, camping, watching and posting on YouTube, and various forms of paper-crafting and planning.

 

From St. Vital Center to Pembina

Today I decided to walk a portion of the Bishop Grandin Greenway. I started by parking at St. Vital Center. I chose the good old Walmart parking lot because 1) everyone uses it as a park and ride anyway and 2) I won’t get a ticket or towed there. The only real other options for parking are in St. Vital park or down a residential street, which in my opinion are less convenient. So I IMG_2424crossed Bishop (on Dakota) and made my way to the trail. One thing that annoyed me a bit about this trail is having to cross at a crosswalk a bit further down. It was not a huge deal but I decided to be a daredevil and cross when the red hand juuuuuust stopped blinking. A car started turning and honked at me a bunch of times. I will say here that yes, I should not have crossed. But the guy could have SLOWED DOWN WHEN HE SAW A PEDESTRIAN! If I had not sped walked a little my back leg would have been chopped off by this guys bumper. Moving on from that heart pounding incident, traffic noise is my other complaint about this trail. I like peaceful walks and the busy street did not provide the atmosphere that gives me the best walking experience. However, I knew that coming into the walk so I wont hold it against the trail.

Something notable along this path is that there was ALOT of graffiti on benches, signs, and even the pavement? Come on people stop that. Note, I am from Transcona and am not a stranger to seeing graffiti, but there was more graffiti on this trail than the Transcona Trail. Also this one person is very keen on getting more followers on tumblr because their link is on a bunch of benches. (see picture to the left) Made me laugh. So here random dude, hope you get a follower from this. Just kidding stoIMG_2427p defacing public property you hooligan. I wonder if they put their info on their profile, cause that would make it easy for the cops to get him.

One thing that I will hold against the trail is the disappointment in the various “attractions” that are marked on the Winnipeg Trails Trail Map. The “orchard” I think I saw and it looked like a small personal garden. I was expecting a Johnny Appleseed stroll through a bunch of fruit trees. This is probably my fault for getting all worked up about it. Also the “butterfly garden” I am not sure I even saw because when I thought I was walking near it I saw the same flowers and grasses that I saw along the entire path, nothing special. If you have ever been to the Zoo then you will expect much more from a butterfly garden. I swear this is the end of the disappointments.

Continuing down the trail I kept thinking how even though it is not one of the most peaceful and amazing trails, it is very important in terms of biodiversity and ecological impact. They made such good use of this green space by letting tall grasses grow and having native plant species. I was also thoroughly impressed with the ponds. They are important for water management and they make a great habitat for waterfowl. Not to mention people love looking at birds. I had no idea that these ponds existed here so I am glad I discovered them for myself and I will share this info with anyone and everyone. I may not go on this trail again, but I am so glad it is preserved and used as such a multipurpose space.

When you head further down the trail you will have opportunities to cut into St. Vital Park. I think this is cool. I debated exploring there a bit but it wasn’t really the purpose of mIMG_2445y trip and I was getting pretty tired. I enjoyed walking under the bridge because I felt like a troll and it was a change in scenery. The best view of the trail is on top of the bridge though. You can’t appreciate the view of the river from a car, I have drove past that spot so many times and its just not the same as a sunny walk on a Wednesday morning. I would almost go so far as to recommend this spot to visitors and tourists. You can see the stadium in the background and its a good picture opportunity I think. You can see my semi-professional photo to the bottom right. I think I could sell this as a postcard. Anyway, I made it to Pembina and did a mental happy dance before dragging my tired butt onto the 75 bus and letting it wheel me back to my car.

To wrap this up, I think that this trail is great for those who want to exercise or are trying to commute via bike or skateboard. If this trail did not exist I think it would be dangerous for bikes to try and compete with 80km/h traffic. I think it is a good trail, the path is well maintained and there are cool little things to see that you may not have know about or appreciated before.

Written by: Samantha Worden (Sam)

Sam is a Trails Analyst summer student with The Winnipeg Trails Association. She is working towards a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Manitoba with a focus in Natural Resource Management. Her hobbies include reading, bike riding, camping, watching and posting on YouTube, and various forms of paper-crafting and planning.

 

 

Why You Should Not Skip the Residential section of The St. Norbert Heritage Trails

Last Friday I decided to check out the St. Norbert Heritage Trails. For those who don’t know they are along “Pembina” but outside the city in the town of St. Norbert, home to the infamous Farmers market.  The majority of my walk was through the residential portion of the trail. I also visited the heritage buildings in the small provincial park. This was one of the most enjoyable walks of my life. I have always enjoyed guided walks and trail hikes but this was an interesting trail walk that is like no other. The urban setting, with the lovely architecture and historic buildings compliment the older trees and quiet neighbourhood. For those who want to undertake this part of the trail I recommend printing off a copy of our PDF trail map to help guide you through the town if you are not familiar. It helped me and made me feel like an explorer. There are also trail signs throughout so you will know you are on the right street if you see one.

I want to focus on the residential portion of the trail because I feel like many will skip it as it is a bit of a jut-off from the main street and at first glace wont hold anything special. WRONG! This little trail was super fun to walk and had some wicked buildings. Some of the houses that I saw I wanted to pack my bags and move into. I am either weird or an enthusiast for homes with character, but I wanted to take pictures of them. Around the half-way point of the walk there is a beautiful church and a special open chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This chapel is one of the only open/outdoor chapels and is of historic and religious significance to the community. The chapel was built in 1875 and was built for prayer to the Virgin Mary who the Métis credited their victory in the resistance to. (1) This is a great stop to check out because of the history in the building itself and you may find it a spiritual place. The trail is also part of the Trans Canada Trail and there is a cool marker for it on a lamppost that i found neat. (Hint: there may be a gem there).

So if you ever feel like heading out to St. Norbert, go explore the trail. I recommend an afternoon or morning because it was quiet.

Written by: Samantha Worden (Sam)

Sam is a Trails Analyst summer student with Winnipeg Trails Association. She is working towards a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Manitoba with a focus in Natural Resource Management. Her hobbies include reading, bike riding, camping, watching and posting on YouTube, and various forms of paper-crafting and planning.

(1) //www.gov.mb.ca/chc/louis_riel/pdf/st_norbert.pdf

(2) photo credit: //winnipegtrails.blogspot.ca/

A Trip Down Pandora

Last week in an effort to place Gems on the Pandora Pathway, I decided to bike down Pandora Ave., from Ravenhurst St. to Plessis Rd. This journey was a bit of a struggle, but had its enjoyable moments as bike rides in themselves are great. My trip started off on a nice paved path that weaves around newly planted trees. (Note : I am not sure if this path is meant for bikes or not but I am assuming it is because people bike on it all the time.) This was short lived because as soon as I hit Redonda St the lovely path ends. Now I was forced to make the everlasting choice of people on bikes throughout Winnipeg: do I risk being hit by a car on the road, or look like a pansy on the sidewalk (maybe also a rebel because it’s technically illegal for adults to ride on the sidIMG_2322ewalk.) I chose the sidewalk. The sidewalk along Pandora is along the fences of backyards, nestled under trees, and under wires. The first encounter I experienced was with the overgrown trees that I had to continuously duck under. Now I know I am on a bike and really shouldn’t be on a sidewalk, but these were long enough even to bother the pedestrian.  On the plus side, when the branches were just right, I felt like I was in a cute faerie forest. Otherwise, It was like I was riding through the Amazon and I forgot my scythe. In addition to the overgrown foliage, further down the path I had to dodge a wire that I think was used to hold up an electrical pole. This was stretched across the sidewalk but was super awkward. I have inserted a picture to the right. I will hope this gets moved or fixed. Maybe it was bent from a storm or something.

The sidewalk then shifts from facing backyards to facing front yards which was much more enjoyable as the trees were pruned. At this point in my monologue I would like to shout out the elderly lady who wished me a good day when I rode past her gardening. You are a lovely soul. I liked this part of my ride because many people were out working on their yards and I felt that community vibe as I was biking. Go Transcona.

Once I made it past the residential stretch, I had to join the Pandora Pathway. This is by the gas stations on Pandora. The funny thing is the Pathway ends/starts at a super weird part. Because it was added to the boulevard it does not line up with any other sidewalk so it just ends/starts at the edge of the driveway to one gas station. Nice. In the picture to the left you can see thIMG_2323e sidewalk I am on, the continuing sidewalk by the gas station, and then the awkward Pandora Pathway starting randomly. They should continue this I think down the rest of Pandora Ave. So I now continue my bike adventure down the Pandora Pathway, which goes through Downtown Transcona and passes in front of the CN shops, a major landmark and business in this part of town. The path has two lanes each with an opposite direction and is for pedestrians and active transportation. The lines could use a tune up (bike pun?) as most are faded away , but that is the only thing that I can point out is wrong with the path itself. Remember when I said my purpose of this trip was to place gems? That’s right folks there are now gems on the Pandora Pathway!

So the pathway itself is nice, I give it that. Unfortunately I would deem it relatively useless at this point because it does not connect to much and won’t offer a safe full continuous route for people on bikes or other active transportation to connect to Regent Ave. or Plessis Rd. I would say the only use curreIMG_2326ntly is for recreational biking and running for those who live up and down Pandora. From my counts this is what I have seen most people use the path for. My journey ended with the stop of the Pathway: a weird merge between the path and the sidewalk. You can see this in the picture to the bottom left. The lines just slowly move closer to the sidewalk and the sidewalk juts into the Pathway. I call this the death trap because your biking along and then BAM, the path ends and you are left to your own devices to navigate the intersection and try and join Plessis Rd. or continue on the street down Pandora. The third option is to illegally ride on the sidewalk which is what i would probably do. The end.

Written by: Samantha Worden (Sam)

Sam is a Trails Analyst summer student with Winnipeg Trails Association. She is working towards a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Manitoba with a focus in Natural Resource Management. Her hobbies include reading, bike riding, camping, watching and posting on YouTube, and various forms of paper-crafting and planning.