Fun in the rain, and a very close call

Cudmore Creek, the Lower Don, and Mud Creek

Added 2012-06-01

Friday afternoon, foul weather with heavy rain and a strong wind, and the power goes out in Leaside. What to do? Head for the ravines!

The nearest creek to my home is Cudmore Creek, most of which has been buried, from its source near Eglinton and Mount Pleasant, to south of the abandoned Don Branch rail line at Bayview and Nesbitt. Here it emerges to run alongside the Governor's Bridge Estates, site of the long gone Bayview Ghost. Old Pottery Road, abandoned when the Bayview Extension was built in the 1950's, runs down the west side of the Cudmore Creek ravine.

Because of the rain today, the flow in Cudmore Creek is more than its usual trickle.

If no video appears here, view Cudmore Creek, along Old Pottery Road north of Bayview on Youtube.

Emerging from Old Pottery Road onto the Bayview extension, there's a path on the right which leads back up to the Don Branch, identified as the "red route" in the article Getting to the Brick Works from Pottery Road.

Across Bayview, and then across the CN main line, I follow the Lower Don River south. I find a discarded traffic sign which I prop up against a whistle post, but it keeps falling over in the wind.

CN main line near Pottery Road

Then, very carefully, I check out the Don.

WARNING! DO NOT ATTEMPT. I have years of experience near creeks and rivers, and if you do not, you risk falling in and getting swept away.

If no video appears here, view Dangerous Don River after heavy rain on Youtube.

Further on, I find an old bucket of railway spikes spilled over on the river bank. If I were an artist, and had a welder's torch and other scrap metal, I'd make a sculpture out of this lovely raw material.

Bucket of railway spikes

Eventually I reach the point along the Don where Mud Creek exits the Brick Works, passes under Bayview, under the CN main line, and softly slides into the Don.

Mud Creek as it leaves the Brick Works

It's hardly moving here at all, due to the tranquilizing effect of the stormwater management ponds and catch basins in the Brick Works.

Flood mitigation begins with a series of ponds built by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in the [Brick Works] Weston Family Quarry Garden. The ponds allow water from Mud Creek to filter naturally through channels planted with water-tolerant species to the stormwater management ponds in the parking lot, before joining the lower reaches of the Don River.

-- Evergreen Brick Works

At the lights, I cross into the Brick Works using the convenient bike crossing lane.

Bike crossing lane on Bayview at the Brick Works

The Evergreen Brick Works is a fabulous place, but it is not my destination today. For an in-depth story on the restoration of the Brick Works, see Wild Thing: the story behind the Brick Works

For decades, nobody knew what to do with the Brick Works, which sat forlorn and empty. There was something magnificent in the old, decommissioned brick buildings. In a city spectacularly unconcerned with its past, it was a spot to contemplate the ghosts of an earlier age.

There are several ways to get to Mud Creek and the Beltline trail north of the Brick Works. Naturally I just went up the side of the hill, but there are also stairs. As usual, LostRivers.ca has a great map: The Moore Park Ravine Reach.

Mud Creek is buried for most of its course from Downsview Airport to here, but in this ravine, it emerges from pipes several times, crossing under the Beltline trail twice. (The Beltline trail follows the actual roadbed of the Beltline railway system, which operated between 1892 and 1894. The rails were removed by 1911.)

The final above-ground section of Mud Creek has had extensive work done to improve the creek channel. See Mud Creek Restoration - Reach 1. This work can be seen in the following video.

If no video appears here, view Mud Creek near the Brick Works, along the Beltline trail on Youtube.

Weren't you surprised to see that steel sculpture just sitting there in the woods? It's far too heavy to budge, never mind lift. If I were an artist, and had a forklift, I'd make a sculpture out of this lovely raw material, maybe with some railway spikes.

At the end of that video, I'm emerging from off the main trail, and notice a woman walking towards me with a dog, so I put the camera away. (I mean, imagine walking along a fairly isolated area, and a guy comes out of the woods pointing a camera at you. Not cool.)

A short distance up the path, I'm just fishing my camera out again, when I hear a loud "CRRRRRAAACK!" behind me. I turn around to see that I was almost hit by a falling tree, which must have been severely weakened by today's heavy rain and high winds.

Fallen tree across the Beltline trail

Here's my astonished reaction. I apologize for the over-the-top exuberance, but I was almost killed, and I'm practically laughing at my good fortune. You may want to turn your sound down —

If no video appears here, view Falling tree across Beltline trail almost got me on Youtube.

The woman appeared understandably concerned, and must've thought I was yelling in pain, rather than relief. Afterwards, she suggested I buy a lottery ticket for tonight.

So up out of the ravine, and on home.

The power failure is over. Loblaws had a contingency plan, an emergency portable power station. Awesome.

Emergency power truck at Loblaws

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