We walked and we walked and we walked and we slept and we slept.

in the park
Fergus in High Park, but not today. Photo by E.g.

We left the house at 08 43 this morning. Cai and Fergus were each wearing their harness. This harness, originally bought for use in the back seat of the car, has a large D-ring at the foot of the loop through which the seatbelt is threaded, just behind the shoulderblades. To each D-ring was clipped an end of the double leash. The double leash consists of two 14-inch straps and one 18-inch strap attached to a central metal ring. The longer length is the leash’s hand grip, while the other straps terminate in clip hooks. Boots laced, gear on, leash in place, away we went.

The plan was to walk to that nice park in Rosedale for some off-leash fun. Well! The off-leash fun lasted less than five minutes, before a local resident warned me that the City has changed its mind, and this park is no longer leash free. On went the double leash again.

The nice thing about this park — for about eleven months of the year — is that it abuts a ravine walking trail. The one month of the year in which this is not a nice thing is the one in which the snow has gone and the ice remains. Snow makes for good traction; ice doesn’t. This morning, the beginning of the trail combined the best challenges of a skating rink and a ski jump.

walking into time
About this wide and smooth, but on a 30-degree slope. The ice was even smoother. Photo by E.g.

But what the heck.

There are two ways to get onto this trail, called “Milkmen’s Road”, from the park: through the north side of the fence, or out the front gates and up the street about 50 paces. Since the path through the fence is a short, sharp drop, I opted for the other connection, which begins as a wide, gentle roadway slope.

It still wasn’t easy; the dogs were raring to go, and impatient with their two-legged companion. By reaching for saplings and keeping one foot on bare ground as often as possible, however, I managed to get down to a place where a side trail has been etched through the snow. The snow at this time of year is about as yielding as cold pahoehoe, but at least the path was level until it reached the creek fence, at which point I had some chain linking to cling to as we made our way down to join the main path again.

When we came to the signpost at the bottom of the slope, I opted for the Moore Park Ravine trail. This brought us to the Brick Works, home of the very nice Dogpatch doggie park. Instead of entering the off-leash area, though, we wandered the paths of the Brickworks park together. I saw half a dozen birds and only two people! Sweet serenity.

Brickworks Park
Hawk’s-eye view of the Brick Works in Autumn. Photo by E.g.

The Don Valley Brick Works is a former quarry with cliffs on three sides. We wandered up a path to the top, and from there watched a Red-tailed Hawk leave a branch and circle over the grounds below. There’s something magical about watching a bird in flight from such a height; maybe it’s easier to imagine myself flying too.

Back down in the lower area there are walkways looping around a set of ponds. I have seen a muskrat here on a summer’s day, so this morning I looked for push-ups, and finally found one.

Our last loop of the park took us along the western edge, above which the Moore Park Ravine trail continues. This quarry wall gets a lot of runoff — there were great thick icicles lining most of it — and includes a culvert which diverts Mud Creek and, in the Spring, provides a small cascade. At the foot of this frozen cascade this morning, some of the ice was slushy. I scrabbled at it with my bare hand, and Fergus and Cai drank their fill. Then we headed for the metal staircase that would take us back up to the Ravine trail.

icefall 2
The western park cliffs looked kinda like this. Photo by E.g.

When we arrived back at the point on Milkmen’s Road that we had earlier skipped, I was doubly glad we had detoured. It was solid ice. Nevertheless, instead of going offtrail to the right to repeat the detour, I decided to go offtrail to the left, climbing straight up the side to the recently leash-free dogpark. (Perhaps on our next walk I should bring water for myself, crazy old Coot hen.) Fergus lost his footing and slipped once, but I never did, and not once did I let go of the double leash. When we got to the dog park we were about 20 brambly paces from the side entrance. So I skipped over the low fence, grabbed one dog by the harness and then another, and popped them into the park with more ease than moving a hay bale.

wet woods
Steeper than this, but similarly vegetated. And then add in the icy patches.

We got home at 10 37, six minutes short of three hours of adventure. The pupsters drank some water, chewed a steer-stick snack, and are still sleeping off the hike five hours later.

Now that’s a walk.

14 Responses to We walked and we walked and we walked and we slept and we slept.

  1. “…I saw half a dozen birds and only two people! Sweet serenity.”

    Sounds like my kind of morning. Good for you.

  2. lavenderbay says:

    Yes, it was certainly a refreshing change, Bobbie, after days of going nowhere because of the cold weather. For me, there’s nothing like a good hike.

  3. goodbear says:

    gorgeous park. wish i could just fly up with the dogs for a couple days!

  4. lavenderbay says:

    It really is pretty cool, Goodbear, combining some sound ecological principles, a nice layout, and a bit of historical preservation (note the surviving smoke stack), and accessible on foot or by public transit as well as by car.
    I can picture you and Cody and Pickles all riding in First Class: “I don’t care if they’re free. If you have another milkbone, Pickles, you’ll make yourself sick!”

  5. barefootheart says:

    That WAS quite a walk. I expect puppy dogs are more squirmy than hay bales! I adore Fergus.
    That’s a nice shot of the Brick Works. I’ve heard of it, but never been there. That view reminds me of Butchard Gardens out in B.C.. It is very pretty, but very artificial. (The part that is set in the reclaimed quarry.) I like the natural look of the Brick Works.

  6. Gina says:

    That was some hike! I love the first picture of Fergus looking so alert, tail up and happy!

  7. S. Le says:

    Beautiful area and photos. Very cute dog.

  8. Judy says:

    That does look like a wonderful place to go for a walk. Usually, we stay on the 401 through TO, but maybe we should detour next trip. And I bet they were well-exercised after three hours!!

  9. lavenderbay says:

    Usually they’re squirmier, Barefootheart, but I think they were caught off guard that time. And although the Brick Works has been engineered into its current state, it isn’t manicured in the way a botanical garden is.

    It was a great hike, Gina, and right in the middle of the city. Toronto has a good number of ravines, and most of them have public walking paths.

    Yes, Fergus is a real funnybones, all right, S. Le. The photos in this entry are all the work of my partner E.g. I think she’s a great photographer.

    Fergus and Cai actually slept past their dinnertime, Judy! That should tell you something. Welcome to my comment section, by the way! And since you’re in Ottawa and may not know Toronto too well, let me just reiterate that only one of the photos above shows the Brick Works. The others are an attempt to illustrate what I saw yesterday (and break up all that verbiage!) since I don’t currently have my hands on a camera.

  10. Great story. Can I send a special shout out to E.g. and some fantastic photos? The one of the path with the shadow of the tree is especially outstanding. Kudos!

  11. lavenderbay says:

    You certainly may, Urban Thought! She’ll appreciate the positive assessment. E.g.’s worklife is crazy-busy at the moment, but I’ll see if she can stop by to read this comment section tonight.

  12. Now that’s what I call “walkies”. That looks like a gorgeous park!

  13. lavenderbay says:

    Yes, and its Dogpatch fenced offleash area was a frequent destination for weekend morning family time, James. The dogpark is located beside the parking lot. When we went on Saturday mornings we didn’t go beyond the old buildings , but we always saw a number of people headed into the main area, their cross-country skis tucked under one arm.

  14. eyegillian says:

    Well, I just wanted to say thanks for the kind comments about the photos, everyone!

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