1001 Walks

Sellwood Riverfront to Johnson Creek Loop

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Ok, I actually did this about 6 weeks ago, but I’ve only just gotten round to blogging about my latest foray into 1001 Walks You Must Experience Before You Die.

I was in Portland, Oregon for several days before travelling up to Seattle to attend the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop (which was fantastic; more tomorrow). I flew into Portland from NZ for two reasons – firstly, it was considerably cheaper. Secondly, there was a simple, accessible walk from 1001 Walks in Portland. I couldn’t resist…

The Sellwood Riverfront to Johnson Creek Loop is easy to get to by light rail, and only takes a couple of hours to walk. There are really three different sections. Starting at the rail station, I wandered through the Johnson Creek renewal project, which was fantastic and my favourite part of this walk (and a strong contender for favourite part of the trip all round, actually). According to the informative panels sprinkled along this creek walk, there’s been an ongoing ecological restoration project going on here, trying to return the creek to a viable state, and it’s clearly working. This little green corridor is beautiful, and full of wildlife. I even saw a Chinook salmon swimming upstream, not two minutes after reading about them on the information panel! Highly recommended.

Also recommended is the stroll through the neighbourhoods on the way to Sellwood Riverfront. The houses were all so pretty! With amazing gardens and shared community playgrounds on the footpaths. I didn’t take any photos here – it seems rude to me to start snapping at people’s family homes without permission – but I was charmed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Sellwood Riverfront Park, including the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (a wetland, the only one in the city I believe) was also enjoyable but didn’t quite have the appeal of Johnson Creek if you ask me. Lots of people enjoying it though, both in the park/refuge and at one of the country’s oldest amusement parks, which was overrun with children so I didn’t go in. And despite my love of all things rollercoaster I didn’t really want to – it had been such a quiet, happy walk that I was loathe to wander off the loop for sugar and screaming.

Definitely worth doing – if only for the restored Johnson Creek, which was wonderful in every respect. I don’t recall who/what person or community group has spearheaded that effort, but they deserve a medal, every one.

Current Count: 995 Walks To Experience Before I Die.

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Dunedin Heritage Walks

I spent many years at university down in Dunedin, so technically I’ve walked every bit of these walks already. But there I was, flipping through the utterly delightful 1001 Walks You Must Experience Before You Die, and there they were: the Dunedin Heritage Walks.

They’re not very long, less than an hour each. Both of them start and end in the Octagon, which is Dunedin’s version of the town square, a place where I’ve spent many happy hours, mostly drinking. And each walk wanders round the oldest buildings of the city, built way back when Dunedin was the richest city in the country, courtesy of the nineteenth century Otago gold rush.

So last weekend I happened to be back down in Dunedin, attending a conference there (I gave a paper on the presentation of science in a couple of second season episodes of The West Wing). And on Saturday morning, after the conference, I had a few hours to kill before flying home and there was a southern miracle: sunshine on a winter’s day! It was even warm. So I picked up the relevant pamphlet from the information centre and went and did the Heritage Walks officially instead of technically. It was basically a hunt for those little historic plaques on the sides of buildings I was already familiar with, but the walks were very pleasant nonetheless. And I was pleased to see that Dunedin’s being covered in murals – like the one of a moa, by an artist called Phlegm. Another detail I’ve never seen before is one of the stained glass windows in the cathedral, which refers to the local environment, being filled with seals and yellow-eyed penguins and other organisms rarely seen inside a church.

Current Count: 996 Walks To Experience Before I Die.

My new favourite book…

untitled1001 Walks You Must Experience Before You Die. This book is going to become the Bible of my life, I can tell. It’s the size of a couple of heavy bricks, so I won’t actually be taking it on any of the walks, but I am in love nonetheless.

It’s gratifying to see that I’ve done a small amount already! I did the King Ludwig Way in Germany with a German friend some years ago (we went to a Star Trek convention and then went walking), and there’s a handful I’ve already done here in New Zealand. Abel Tasman Coastal Track, and Kepler, and Milford, which are three of NZ’s nine Great Walks. I’ve also done bits of Te Araroa, the long pathway running down the length of the country. It’ll probably take me years to finish, but finishing TA is on my bucket list.

Also in NZ, I’ve done part of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, though I had to abandon it halfway through when I fell down a bank and broke my arm. I’ve also done the Tongariro Crossing (the finest walk I’ve ever been on) which isn’t in 1001 Walks but is a day in the Northern Crossing, which is. Similarly, I’ve done the Rakiura Track on Steward Island, which isn’t listed but is four days on North West Circuit of the island, which is.

And I’ve visited Petra, in Jordan, where I spent less than an hour on one of the trails, the one going in, and all of that time I was ignoring everything about me in a desperate attempt to get into Petra itself, so I’m not really counting that one. I really want to go back for the much longer day walk.

So I’ve got incentive for some return trips. Of course there’s 1001 walks in this book so the likelihood of my completing them all is very slim. And that’s alright, because on a flick through I saw a page about a Chinese plank walk, and Hell No. I am not shuffling along that ridiculously high, ridiculously thin trail even if they do strap me on with a harness. Also, the happy predictions on some of the American walks: “If you’re lucky you’ll see a bear!”

I don’t want to see a bear. Not when I’m walking. Those fuckers eat people. You know what I could do against a bear? NOTHING. No thank you.

So with these torpedoing any possibility of completion, I feel free to skim through and pick out the walks which I want to do most.

Even then there’s far too many.

Current Count: 997 Walks to Experience Before I Die.