100 km in 24 hours: Meet the hikers making a major trek through the river valley

Meet Lisa Howatt and Dan Tyrkalo— two River Valley Alliance ambassadors who aspire to a lifetime of adventure. Coming up June 1, 2019, which also happens to be International Trails Day, they will be walking the entire length of the Edmonton region river valley, from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan (approx. 100km). In this blog series, we’ll learn why they want to do this hike, how to prepare for a long thru-hike like this, and what actually goes down the day of!

What better way to celebrate International Trails Day on June 1 than a walk through our favourite river valley—especially a really long walk! As our own personal commemoration of the day, we intend to attempt a “thru-hike” of the river valley trail system, with a potential midnight start at the University of Alberta Botanical Garden and hopefully reaching the end of the Fort Saskatchewan Waterfront Trail before the clock strikes midnight again.

As the backyard of our community, the river valley offers an inclusive and accessible space; it’s a non-discriminating expanse welcoming all who come to enjoy a bit of nature. This public space doesn’t demand an entry fee, or have an implied family status. Personally, we’ve always had a special connection to this green belt and we’ve spent many hours wandering through the trails, stopping to enjoy an afternoon snack under a tree, or to chase our dog away from a squirrel. It’s where we commute, where we train and where we unwind. Given its importance in our lives, it’s important to us that we actively support and participate in its maintenance and protection.

This brings us back to June 1 and International Trails Day. Why hike the entire river valley? We can’t think of a better way to bring awareness to this gem and its features. Pushing limits is also a shared hobby for us. As long-distance hikers, we’re always looking for fun new ways to see what we’re capable of and how far we can go in a day. It’s incredible to see what happens when you give yourself the space, time and mental permission to do big things!

We’ll be sharing our journey on social media as it unfolds, so we welcome each of you to follow along on the River Valley Alliance Instagram on June 1. We’ll point out features along the way, show you our favourite trails and and hopefully leave you a little more aware of everything this local treasure has to offer.

Watch for our next guest blog post where we’ll dive into how we’re preparing for this adventure, from training to gear and much more.

Talk soon!

Dan & Lisa (and Nala the dog!)

Dan and Lisa’s favourite river valley spots:

Dan’s favourite spot in the river valley is Ezio Faraone park, looking down over the stairs with the high-level and LRT bridge with morning dew clouds in the morning—spectacular. “I always pause there during my morning bike commute,” Dan says.

Lisa’s favourite spot in the river valley is the off-leash area in the north end of the Mill Creek Ravine; this quiet and shady spot is an oasis in the city and has a fantastic network of single track trails.