Winter Walk Day (WWD) is an annual celebration that takes place on the first Wednesday of February. It’s an invitation to Canadians to get outside and moving, celebrate our winter, and promote the year-round health benefits of walking. We checked in with a CKUA announcer who walks in all kinds of weather: Alberta Morning host Grant Stovel.
We know you walk to work in every season, and every type of weather. What do you enjoy about walking to work?
I mean, I already need to get up in the middle of the night to get to work, in any scenario; so I feel like it’s extremely bizarre that that I choose to get up EVEN EARLIER in order to take the slowest possible option means of locomotion! But I love it deeply. It allows me to ponder, to plan, to get both my brain and my blood pumping, and to arrive at CKUA’s front door awake, exhilarated, and pumped to share some sweet music with people!
Do you listen to music while you walk?
Yes! Usually either music, or podcasts. Often music podcasts! It’s an amazing experience, though, to really commune with a single album in the morning. My walk is roughly the length of an album, so a morning’s walk is like taking a whole journey with one record. Especially thrilling are New Music Fridays, when I hear an album for the very first time.
What challenges does walking in winter present, and what gear do you need for the coldest of Alberta days? (Subtext: Have you ever wiped out on ice?)
I’ve sure wiped out on ice plenty of times. Especially being that my route takes me WAAAY down into Edmonton’s river valley, and WAAAY back up again. I’ve taken a spill often enough that I now carry my ice cleats with me in my backpack all winter long. But I guess I consider that ice encourages… umm, mindfulness. It causes me to be very present in the moment!
What kinds of things have you seen on your walks to and from the CKUA studio? Have you encountered any animals in the river valley? Do you have a favourite sunrise memory?
I do see plenty of wildlife! Rabbits, coyotes, mice, deer, and more; they’re all frequent morning companions. Once I saw a creature silhouetted against the light, wondered what it was, and eventually realized that it was our cat, who wasn’t supposed to be out. I had to pick him up and hustle to backtrack home. Good thing I’d left plenty early that day!
If you could pick a song to summarize your feelings about winter walking, what would you choose?
So many come to mind! The Sadies and Kurt Vile with “It’s Easy (Like Walking),” Muddy Waters’ “Walking Thru the Park.” But the quiet thrill of my super-early perambulation matches up really sweetly with The Parting Gifts’ version of an old Jagger-Richards song, “(Walking Through The) Sleepy City.”
Winter Walk Day is February 1. Enjoy!