It is autumn in Toronto and that means fall colours. Over the past few days my dog Viggo and I have been up and down the Don Valley – i.e. the eight kilometers from Lake Ontario all the way up to Moore Park. It has been mostly overcast but every once in a while the sun manages to poke through. On the days I had a camera with me we stopped for some photos. Spoiler alert: what you’ll see as you skim through are lots of pix of Viggo and lots pix of fall colours, and sometimes both at the same time!
On Sunday we made our way down to the beach at the foot of Cherry Street – it is the ultimate off-leash dog park in the city and Viggo’s favourite place since “Fetch” also involves going into the water. This was the morning the little p & s camera was giving out bogus “Charge the battery” messages so not a lot of pix were taken. But here are a few of Viggo at work!
The lack of maple trees down along the waterfront meant that the colour palette was somewhat muted – the above shots were about all the camera would work for.
The next day I had better luck with another camera as we walked the streets of Cabbagetown, a residential area just on the other side of the Don Valley from our Riverdale home. The housing stock there dates back to the 1880s; what was once a very working-class area of Toronto has been gentrified over the past forty years and is now a highly desirable and expensive address!
Once back on our side of the Don Valley, we paused for some water when we reached the picnic tables. I got a few shots of the dog we call “Mr. Happy Yappy” as he stood on top of the table we usually sit on.
Viggo still seemed “full of beans” so I figured we might as well go up to the skating rink and play fetch for a while. Given V’s chase drive, I like being able to shut the door to the rink. The previous night’s rain meant there was a bit of water covering the concrete but we managed to get a few throws in.
As you can see from the background of the previous shot, there is not a lot of fall colour happening in the woods by the skating rink yet. It turned out that the day’s most amazing colour was on our own street! Here are just a couple of shots of what we saw that day as we walked back home –
This morning was another overcast day but since the forecast was for rain in the afternoon, I figured we may as well make use of the morning. I had an ulterior motive at play; my new Polar H7 heart rate sensor – it pairs with my iPod Touch via Bluetooth – was just asking to be tested and what better way than a two-hour outing with Viggo!
I had heard rave reviews of the colours on the trail running up behind the Brickworks (aka the Moore Park Ravine) so that was our target for the morning. First we bicycled up the Don Valley bike trail to Pottery Road and over to Bayview Avenue where I locked my bike to a utility pole. Then we scampered up and over the hill to the most fantastic view of Toronto – the one you see in this post’s first photo. The following pix will give you an idea of what the Moore Park Ravine looks like this week.
[While the Ravine is always a great place to be, right now it is especially pretty – and you don’t need a dog to visit! Just park your car at the Brickworks and go for a walk.]
I tied Viggo’s leash to my bicycle seat post and off we went. Up the street, down into the park, down the flight of stairs to the bike trail, over the footbridge and through the tunnel you see below, past more than one reminder that our quest for fall colours is unfolding in a gritty urban environment.
And then, after a bit of work, we get to THE View – we are on the ridge above the Brickworks, looking at the immense cavity that provided the raw material for the brick homes that are so characteristic of a certain period of Toronto building.
And the Stone of Viggo. Well, it is the large boulder that sits up on the ridge . Too much time spent reading LOTR led to creating a mythic world for our Viggo, Prince of Iceland.
And then it is a bit of a scramble down a muddy hillside to take us to the trail which goes up the Moore Park Ravine. I use the exposed roots of trees to provide some footing as we make our way down. Down in the valley, there is lots to explore…
And then it was back to the path and the occasional encounter with other dogs and dog owners and, with my sincerest apologies, Viggo’s most recent giving chase to a bicyclist. She appeared before I could put V on a leash – but not before he had already morphed into his urban job as Icelandic Bicycle Dog. Amazingly, she apologized for the incident; I told her it was definitely my “bad”. In the hour that we were down there, she was the only cyclist we saw. We do avoid the trail on weekends when all the joggers and cyclists are out in full force.
And then it was time to head on back down to Riverdale. When we got home, Viggo was pretty mellow for a good chunk of the afternoon. We really have to do this more often!
I was keen to upload the heart rate information from the Polar Beat app on my iPod Touch. Our almost two-hour adventure had burned up 1000 calories and had my heart getting a good workout. While the time spent in the two lowest heart rate zones hardly constitutes exercise, the hour I spent in zones 3 and 4 definitely qualify as my aerobic exercise of the day.
As I looked at the various peaks where my heart rate approached the red zone (zone 5) I wondered which peak was the one where I ran to get Viggo back on leash as he chased after that cyclist down in the ravine!
Just a few minutes after finishing this post, I surfed my way to this Globe & Mail photo collection published today – a collection of fall colour shots from across Canada. See here for some truly creative images that capture the magic of a Canadian autumn.