Orienteering on the Humber River.

Humber river snaking through Northern Etobicoke.

Humber river snaking through Northern Etobicoke.

I’ve been taking part in Humber College’s Outdoor Education program since September. It’s a fun program which has seen the group head out to Algonquin for a backpacking trip  back in October to test our skills. This weekend as a part of the Orienteering class the group spent some time at the Humber Arboretum which lies directly behind the North Campus testing our skills.

The GPS map of the trek looking for markers.

The GPS map of the trek looking for markers.

Speed and elevation changes.

Speed and elevation changes.

The markers, like finding a needle in a hay stack.

The markers, like finding a needle in a hay stack.

As seen above, I’ve begun using a GPS tracking app Sports Tracker to map my route and elevation during the Orienteering course. I’ve have to say that it’s worked out pretty decently, most of the time I was on track with the exception of a few back trackings to re-orient myself. Having to orienting one self with nothing more then a map and a compass is challenging, not to mentioned that the map that we used was from 1972. Yes, 1972! So far back in time that Finch Avenue ended before the Humber river and highway 427 was just being constructed and had not reached this far north. Now the use of an old map was not without reason, the area surrounding Humber river has become heavily developed in the last 30 odd years. If we’d used a new map it would have been easy to orient oneself without the compass and simply just use buildings and paths as land markers. 

The Humber valley has become saturated with housing.

The Humber valley has become saturated with housing.

Looking down the valley.

Looking down the valley.

Overlooking the river valley.

Overlooking the river valley.

The northern stretches of the Humber river near the North Campus as beautiful, the Arboretum is a wonderful place to explore and the valley supports numerous wildlife. During the session I’ve run into several deer, including a large buck with very impressive antlers as well as some coyotes which were rummaging through the woods for their next meal. Sadly as with most if not all wild-spaces in Toronto, the impact of people was painfully obvious. Even in the thickest of woodlots there was garbage scattered about. Along the way I’ve ran into well over a dozen make shift shelters with alcohol containers strewn about, it seems that the valley has some seasonal residence.

The best shot I could get of the Buck before he scampered off.

The best shot I could get of the Buck before he scampered off.

A party in the woods, random human impact on nature.

A party in the woods, random human impact on nature.

The most random thing that I’ve even encountered was the sight seen above. A party in the woods. I honestly don’y know what to make off it at all, and I don’t think that I want to. As for the orienteering itself, I feel quite confident using a map and compass at the moment. I’ve been pretty much on target with all of the markers, never being more then 5-10 meters from any marker I was looking for. Now that being said, this was of course in a controlled environment where you could easily see campus and building around it so at no point did I feel lost. The real test would be to do this in the middle of Algonquin.

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6 thoughts on “Orienteering on the Humber River.

  1. I do what you have done in the city when I am in Algonquin. I use the landmarks of nature from the maps. Waterfalls, rivers, streams, inlets, outlets, etc. I am hoping to take an orienteering course next year but until then and in the past 15 years of backcountry travelling, the good old, looking at landmarks has gotten me through and never gotten me lost! Still sad by all the garbage you keep uncovering in these places your posting about. Like the photos regardless and I can’t believe there are deer in the middle of Toronto? Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did a bit of orienteering back at school with a map and a compass. I remember loving it. It would be fun to try it again. Humber Arboretum area is beautiful minus the garbage, of course. My son once had his birthday party there. Kids went on a bit of hike, played some games, hand-fed chickadees. It was one of the best birthday parties of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Humber valley is very pretty and fairly close to where we live. My son does like simple things but he is 11 so, of course, he wants birthday parties. But he plans them all on his own, including theme, invitations, activities, etc. and his parties usually involve things like hiking, planting, cooking (where they made vegetarian dishes because he wanted to show his friends that being vegetarian is cool), an art class. We use places like Humber Arboretum or city-run spaces, like community centres and a teaching kitchen in High Park, bring our own snacks, never use disposable products. Plus he uses his parties to fundraise for different causes like WWF or Breakfast for Learning so we don’t end up with a pile of useless plastic toys and heaps of wrapping paper. I think the next year’s idea is board games and a scavenger hunt in the park but it is still more than three months away so that may still change 🙂

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