14 December — The Tuesday Walking Society is still deep in its Scarborough Project — our exploration of parks and trails in Toronto’s easternmost municipality.
This week we checked out Highland Creek, which we had discovered while walking eastward along Lake Ontario from East Point Park (see “Where’s the Espresso?”). Here’s our route, which indeed took us through two parks (Lower Highland Creek south of Kingston Rd. and Colonel Danforth to the north) along the one creek.
We parked just south of Lawrence Av. East, at the western edge of that short dotted bit of trail running horizontally into the main trail along the creek. First we walked south to the lake, then back north all the way into the grey area (U of Toronto Scarborough campus), where we soon turned south again, and followed a residential street bordering the creek’s eastern side from Kingston Rd. back to Lawrence, and back to the car.
Where we played our usual guess-total-kilometres game, and surprised ourselves. We’d guessed 9 km or so, but the grand total was just over 11.
It was a pretty route, never spectacular, but pleasant to walk. The surface underfoot was paved, but the woods relatively ungroomed, with lots of log and branch litter. There was evidence of careful creek protection, though (stone riprapping in critical places), and human protection as well.
We saw several of these arrangements of life-saving equipment along the way. The larger sign gives emergency info; the dangling smaller one tells us not to pick any wildflowers, or fiddleheads either. I don’t happen to like eating fiddleheads much (even if they are a traditional delicacy), but I’m glad they’re protected.
Everywhere evidence that we’re still within the impact area of the Wisconscian glacier that shaped those dramatic Scarborough Bluffs. Witness mini-bluffs along the creek edge, for example.
Very typical of the area — not just the sand/clay cliffs, but gravel beds in the creek (that is gravel, not ice), and the surrounding tree- and leaf litter.
A monochromatic colour scheme, this time of year, but with bursts of colour.
Lots of moss on old decaying stumps, all of them providing a visual punch of green.
But sometimes the monochromatic palette was deceptive. I almost didn’t give this greyed-out log a second glance — just looked like it had become very deeply scored as it rotted away.
Then I did look again. Wow! Row upon row of tiny, fan-shaped fungi, each ringed in such subtle, delicate, shimmering shades of colour.
Not really very far to Lake Ontario, hello again to the flat water in flat light, with sand bars and gulls and arching branches of bare shrubs.
Then about face and north again from the mouth of the creek, initially retracing our way on the trailpath and bridge passing under the railway tracks that at this point parallel the lake.
Most of the slope and creek protection we saw was in stone, but there was this one stretch with a very pretty wooden fence. As I said earlier, nothing dramatic along this trail, but a lot of gently pleasing vistas.
OK, one something dramatic, a little bit dramatic. Stilt-walking trees, hey?
We saw them in the picnic facilities in Colonel Danforth Park, just south of Kingston Rd.
Ask and sometimes you receive. Pirate-man along with two others, on the underpass trestles. I only photographed this guy, the others were really lame. Even this, well… Scarborough punks aren’t as artistic as city punks, we sneered, downtowners to our mocking core.
More northward trail, and then we found ourselves climbing up to Old Kingston Rd. itself. Where we saw this wonderful sign! I like the way it connects road to nature, and the immediate location to another, just 5-6 km away. “We knew this already,” we told each other, and giggled.
Just north of Old Kingston Rd. there’s a plaque, which — of course! — we read, telling us all about the grist and saw mills that used to dot this creek valley in pioneer days. The earliest was established in 1805, others followed, but all of them are now long gone.
This pioneering dependence, throughout what is now Canada, on water-generated power from our abundant rivers explains why “hydro” is Canadian shorthand for “electricity” and why power-generating facilities are called Hydro (Ontario, Quebec, etc.), no matter what mix of sources they may be using.
But I digress! (Yet again.) Up to U of T we went, not much fun there, around and back and then, just for contrast, south to Lawrence on a street overlooking the creek, Col. Danforth Trail. A mix of homes, some small and older, increasing numbers of them larger and fancier — with pillars! and towers! and statuary! – so we sniffed with disdain.
We also marvelled at the sight of a new faux-chateau now under construction on what to our eyes was the very lip of the creek cliff. Amazed they’d be so reckless, amazed they got the permit. It’s a long way down…
One charming touch, in all the pretension: this wicker tree ornament dangling from a conifer on somebody’s front lawn.
No lights or suet balls, just this.