Taking In The Fall Colours With Viggo

Toronto Skyline from above the Brickworks

looking south to the Toronto downtown skyline from above the Brickworks

It is autumn in Toronto and that means fall colours. Viggo and I have been up and down the Don Valley – the eight kilometers from Lake Ontario all the way up to Moore Park – on this week’s rambles. 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!

fall colours in Riverdale

fall colours at Withrow Park in Riverdale

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!

Viggo at the Cherry Street Beach Dog Park

Viggo at the Cherry Street Beach Dog Park – my current desktop image!

it's all about the ball!

it’s all about the ball!

Viggo ready to exchange the ball - for a treat!

Viggo ready to exchange the ball – for a treat!

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 1880’s; what was once a very working class area of Toronto has been gentrified over the past forty years and is now a desirable address!

one of the many simple cottage homes of Cabbagetown

one of the many simple cottage homes of Cabbagetown

Cabbagetown front yards

Cabbagetown front yards

Cabbagetown fall colour

Cabbagetown fall colour

classic Cabbagetown - right down to the lace curtains!

classic Cabbagetown – right down to the lace curtains!

another Cabbagetown front yard

another Cabbagetown front yard

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 on a park picnic table - Riverdale Park East

Viggo on a park picnic table – Riverdale Park East

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.

viggo checking out the ice condition

Viggo checking out the ice condition

Viggo at the ice rink

Viggo at the ice skating  rink – ice is usually in by December

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 –

Riverdale Avenue maple leaves

Riverdale Avenue maple leaves

more Riverdale maple leaves on display

more Riverdale maple leaves on display

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.

the footbridge across the Don just north of the Riverdale Bridge

the footbridge across the Don just north of the Riverdale Bridge

The tunnel underneath the old Belt Line rail tracks

The tunnel underneath the old Belt Line rail tracks

a reminder that this is not a nature preserve

a reminder that this is not a nature preserve

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.

Viggo surveys his domain from the Stone of Viggo above the Brickworks

Viggo surveys his domain from the Stone of Viggo above the Brickworks

Viggo responding to his name -

Viggo responding to his name –

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.

The Stone of Viggo

The Stone of Viggo – he hops up, he gets a treat, I take a picture.  Familiar routine!

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…

the creek (Mud Creek?)  running down the ravine

Mud Creek  running down the ravine – Viggo checks it out

down along the creekbed

down along the creekbed

Viggo wading in Mud Creek:Moore Park Ravine

Viggo wading in Mud Creek – Moore Park Ravine

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 clicked in to his urban job as Icelandic Bicycle Dog. 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.

Viggo and a bed of fallen leaves

Viggo and a bed of fallen leaves

a short stretch of the ravine trail

a short stretch of the ravine trail

another section of the Moore Park Ravine pathway

another section of the Ravine pathway just before it ends south of Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Viggo watching a couple of dogs in the distance

Viggo watching a couple of dogs in the distance

Viggo giving me that smile of his

Viggo giving me that smile of his

more leaves - and another %22smile' from the Veegs

more leaves – and another “smile” from the Veegs

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.

walking the dog - heart rate graph

walking the dog – heart rate graph

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!

Withrow Park maple hiding  the sun

Withrow Park maple hiding the sun

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.

2 thoughts on “Taking In The Fall Colours With Viggo

  1. I am sure that North America has the best of autumn colours – something I miss after my years of living in Europe too – we just don’t get that sort of colour display in NZ. 😦 I have loved reading about your summer river/lakes expedition. Again, I miss the long rivers of other countries (having kayaked 400km across the European main waterways). Here in NZ. we have very few rivers that can be considered multi-day. I spent 3 days last week on the Clarence river in the South Island ( about 170km) . cf: attachments. This is as remote as it gets here! 🙂 Biffy F.

    Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:37:38 +0000 To: b_frederikson@hotmail.com

    • Biff, from what I saw of South Island on my bicycle tour, New Zealand has its own beauty and energy which has visitors enthralled. I was there in a February which was i guess too early for whatever fall colours there may be. I almost booked a return trip for this coming February so I could see North Island from my Brooks bike saddle – but at least this time Burma won out. Re: rivers. it sounds like you’ve got the canoe/kayak tripper’s bug too! I think northern Canada must be the ultimate canoe country. Vast stretches of Canadian Shield wilderness that the miners and loggers haven’t got to yet. You’ll have to get there before they do!

Your comments and questions are always appreciated, as are any suggestions on how to make this post more useful to future travellers. Just drop me a line or two!

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