151018 East Don - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

I've spent far too much time talking about cameras recently, so on Saturday I went out to take photos. 

I've been to the East Don trail a couple of times this year with my favourite person, but this was my first time back on my own. I may have strayed from the designated path a few times. In my youth I used to walk along these tracks, including the low stone bridge that crosses the Don Valley Parkway, but I wouldn't do that anymore. I certainly wouldn't walk across the tall CP Rail trestle that crosses the valley.

Here's the CN Rail line again, where it crosses the East Don just north of the Wynford entrance to the conservation lands. The line was occupied by a work train pulled by a rail-riding crane truck, a backhoe, and many workers. Not as photogenic as a freight train or even a GO train, and not as interesting to hear, either.

I had my audio recorder with me as well, and found some interesting material, but I'm going to need to return on a weekday in the hopes of catching more trains. But with CP Rail doing maintenance on their trestle bridge just north of here there's no particular rush, since the sounds of construction fills any space far enough from the highway to escape the constant traffic.

Of course I also like recording the sounds of construction equipment.

It's the middle of October, so it snowed. I had my audio recorder running for the backhoe that was shifting rock around in the streambed under the bridge, so it also caught the line of sleet and snow as it passed through. That's a first for me.

I'll see about putting together an audio track of the construction later in the week. I have several different perspectives of it, but the one that I recorded while taking the photo above is the best. 

I was surprised by just how much was still green in the valley, but I admit that I've been out of touch with my childhood ravines and don't know much about their seasonal timing. Parts of the forest floor were covered with leaves, though, so perhaps the ambitious trees that turned early had already lost their cover to some of the recent winds we've had.

It's harder to see here, but for the photo in the woods it was still snowing. It was one of the many times when I was happy to have bought some gloves when I stopped off at the new Shops On Don Mills that morning – the first thing I've bought there since it was a covered mall.

And if I can stray back into camera-geekery for a moment, the photo in the woods was taken with my 1,5/50 C-Sonnar on the Fujifilm XT10. The background is decisively ugly, with a bridge and all kinds of bare sticks that normally pass for trees in the background. It's not the best I've ever seen, but the lens does a good job of making that confusion go away. The similar photo from the rail lines was taken with the 2/35 Biogon, and it also was nearly wide open and performed well.

But despite the evidence to the contrary, I wasn't there for the foliage, trains, construction, or snow squalls. I was there for the fish. 

The salmon that run in the Don River got there the hard way – in buckets from the Ministry of Natural Resources. The river is too polluted for the salmon eggs to survive, so instead the MNR has been stocking the river with juveniles since 1995. Now these adults have returned to their natal river, as they must, but sadly they're not the start of a new generation.

I counted six or seven salmon in this one particular spot, and there were many others in sight. They're very impressive to see as they hover in the current or defend their territory. I've yet to see them jump, though, so that's going to be a goal for next year.

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