Tuesday, March 04, 2008

i'm picking up 401 vibrations

While I've spent a good deal of time driving along 401, exploring its underside usually means waiting for a traffic light to change. I suspect the psychogeographers were overdue for a look underneath Toronto's busiest road, as we did during last week's trek along a northern stretch of the Don River.

The Loneliest Info To Go In The City?
One of the first stops was a lonely Info-to-Go pillar near Auberge du Pommier. Seems like an odd location, unless there was high demand from those walking through the valley, motorists whose broken-down vehicles barely made it off the 401 or smokers looking for reading material on a dinner break. From here we wandered down into the Don Valley Golf Course, which sees more pawprints than tees during the winter.

Official City of Toronto Conditions of Play for Golf
The official city rules on how to behave while playing golf. At least the shirt restriction isn't so narrow that only polo shirts are allowed, as has been the case on my few outings to the fairway.

Walking through the course wasn't a problem, as previous walkers compacted the snow enough to form unofficial trails that led us under Highway 401.

Planks By the Highway In Between Bridges
Four bridges carry 401 over the Don, the oldest dating from the late 1920s. The eastbound express lanes were originally the northern extension of Yonge Boulevard, which was designed to bypass periodic flooding on Yonge Street in Hogg's Hollow. We noticed a clearing in between the eastbound bridges that led up to the freeway and carefully walked up the slope. Bundles of planks leftover from last year's reconstruction of the Yonge Street exit came in handy in steep spots. At the top, we felt strong vibrations from passing trucks and wondered if we were visible enough to cause any head scratching.

To Matty B.
We then poked around the underside of the freeway and discovered a catwalk (lurking in the background of this picture). All of us hopped on and walked a short distance before discovering the railing only went so far. One brave/dashing/foolhardy soul didn't let this hinder him as he pressed forward, while the rest of us walked back down to the river.

The Booth Under the Bridge Drums Galore
Under the bridge, we found scattered remnants of the construction project. Our daring catwalker soon rejoined us from a successful trek across, though the vibrations from above had forced him to crawl along some sections.

A Monument to Doggy Poo
After a few moments of contemplation, we continued through the northern section of the golf course. We pitied the poor city employee who would need to clean the overflowing pile of plastic bags filled with doggie-doo. A fence separating the links from parklands to the north caused half the group to backtrack in search of an opening, rather than testing the limits of their clumsiness by falling into the Don.

Earl Bales Ski Run (1)
We left the valley via the freshly-groomed ski hill at Earl Bales Park. The hike back up proved steeper than expected - each step near the top felt as if I had walked up nine flights of stairs, complete with raw throat feeling. A bus ride back to Yonge Street and a drink at a nearby pub allowed time to recover.

All pictures taken February 28, 2008 - JB

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