Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Exploring new trails can be a risky undertaking

I came up dry in a quest to get some footage on the Bala and Belleville subdivisions on Saturday. I waited high on the hill above E.T. Seton park with a view of the high railway bridge that crosses the valley, to no avail. The pedestrian footbridge under Don Mills Road just north of the DVP interchange also was dead, except for a CN maintenance truck on rails, and I even missed that by mere seconds. The waits extended my 90 minute run to 2 1/2 hours, most standing in the hot sun, waiting...

After jogging along Laird, I decided to see if there was another way down to the cycling trails of Crother's Woods other than the trailhead at Redway. By the road was an obscure but clearly used path heading down the ravine. Keen to follow I headed down the path and came on a rough dirt trail, and a guy, clearly not a mountain biker, maneuvering a bike along and we had a short exchange about the path itself, he says it goes nowhere, ending at 'the dump'.

You know that little voice, the one that lives in our head and drives every decision we make? The monologue is like some third person arbitrator that weighs pros and cons the way a trial judge would discuss the facts before him, looking at one thing, and another. The little voice is not like that at all. The little voice is a massive parallel processor that assembles a vast amount of information of experience, environment, conditions, facts and fictions, chews it all up in a fraction of a second and spits out a conclusion. It takes things into consideration that we don't even know exist. Unlike the heavily used recreational and biking trials of the valley, this area seemed more than a fair bit 'sketchy', and the little voice suggested that I find the nearest exit point and use it pronto.

Being the adventurous sort that I am, I ignored it and persevered forward, coming across, of all things, a tree house, not one for kids to play in (given that any kid erecting a treehouse in this area is not only far more ambitious than most, and a good 3/4 mile away from the nearest residence) but one that provided accomodation for one or more adult-type-humans.

I viewed it with some level of amazement.  It's common to see rough tents or coverings of various sorts, or just as frequently no covering at all, at various off-the-main-pathway locations of the valley and the city in general, but this was the first time I saw a genuine tree house used for this purpose, and it was a good 15-20 feet off the ground at the high end.  I continued past, looking for any sign of a pathway that would lead to the biking trails. It is then I catch a sound of rustling a bit back, but out of view. I slowly move back and see a guy, maybe 20ish, shirtless and in shorts, no doubt one of the treehouse occupants, wandering away along the path (fortunately in the opposite direction).  I'm being very quiet and he can't see me though the brush.  I know realize that the little voice was not insanity permeating my system, but the time and time again proven intuitive response to my current condition.  I hastly move down into the brush, knowing it's not more than 50 or so yards from the biking trails, find some trampled grasses that forms a usable path, and skiddadle out of there about as quick as I could manage, with a robust and effective leg lift and deliberate forward progression. I figured as I was outfitted for the trails and carrying a reasonable amount of fitness, I could beat anyone outside of 20 yards from me to the trails regardless of what I had to pass through. Carrying a camcorder with me didn't help matters any, as it provided more incentive than anything else should the situation go south.

Happy I was to see the familiar beaten to a pulp cycling trails, and an active day as the local cycling community was holding sessions for new riders, resulting in a busy section of trail.

From herein I shall be considerably more cautious when exploring new territory.

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