Yesterday I walked 33 kilometers across Toronto to raise money for Pine River Institute, which is a residential treatment centre for teenagers in crisis. I brought along my notebook and wrote about the walk while I was experiencing it. Below is a transcript of those notes.
Starting out rather late. Standing in Vic Park station at the moment, by the front door. Hannah and I slept in this morning- a benefit to scheduling these things yourself is that you can behave in an irresponsible manner.
Also, I’ll have to buy deodorant at some point, because I forgot to put it on this morning. In this mental state I’ve decided it’s an excellent idea to walk across the goddamn city.
By Main and Danforth. I have deodorant- now I just need to find a place to discreetly apply it. I had to go to two places to find unscented deodorant, and had to settle on women’s.
This is a fucking depressing part of town. The Danforth is basically shit until you hit Greektown.
Put deodorant on in an abandoned parking garage. I feel fresh.
By Greenwood station now. Things are going by fast, it seems. The neighbourhood is no longer depressing. The weather is cool and windy. I have my winter coat on, but I’m sweating a bit. One of those transitional days you get in fall. Not remotely tired or hungry. Could do with something to drink.
In the heart of Greektown. Beautiful neighbourhood- one of my favourites. Solid and down to earth. Very grounded and real. The clouds overhead are a mix of white and dark grey. It could rain, and obviously I’m hoping it doesn’t. I have my rain hat (a fedora) in my knapsack with me in case it does rain.
Standing on the Bloor Viaduct. People seeing me write this probably think it’s a suicide note- not that anyone can jump from here anymore, not with the enormous fucking anti-suicide barrier they put up.
The sky looks bad- just half of it though. We’ll see if it passes.
Hannah sent me a lovely text message not long ago, and I stopped for Gatorade. I really thought this walk would be harder, though I guess it’s still pretty early. I’m not tired at all. So far this has in no way been a challenge. Fun though- I always enjoy walking in the city. I must be in better shape than I thought. I didn’t train for this at all. I just like walking and I do a lot of it. Nothing on this scale though. Not for years, anyway.
Yonge and Bloor. First quarter done. I feel awesome. Legs tingly. Runner’s high. Feel vaguely spiritual. Sense of connectedness to city. Want to keep walking.
Stopped by Hannah’s place and she made me lunch. She’s a very nice person. At this rate I’ll be walking all night, but that’s okay.
The sky seems to be clearing up.
I’m at Roncesvalles and Bloor now. The halfway point. No pain. Some tingling in legs. Weather’s fine. I think originally I was supposed to walk over to High Park, but in order to get to Queen it’s much easier to walk down Roncy, so that’s what I’m doing.
The last forty minutes have been a blur. I’ve been totally checked out. Just content and at peace. Thinking about disability activism and the different approaches to it, and how much I admire queer activism and how much we stand to gain by copying their tactics.
I hope it doesn’t get dark before I pass out of Parkdale, which is at the foot of Roncy and stretches about a kilometer past that. I adore Parkdale, but it’s fucking crazy. It’s the Overlook Hotel of neighbourhoods. Lord, does it shine!
At Roncy and Queen now. Wicked wind down here. Took longer than I thought, but I guess it makes sense- I walked from Bloor almost all the way to the water. I can see the lake from here. It looks restless and sick. My stomach doesn’t feel good, but it was upset yesterday, too. Just some cramping, unrelated to the walk. No big deal- probably just my period.
Other than that I’m in fine shape. Almost got hit by a bike earlier, but they missed me, so that’s all right.
I was almost at the edge of Parkdale when I realized I hadn’t seen anything strange- which was a first. Then I saw Santa’s vagrant brother wearing a one-piece day-glo orange suit. Parkdale, you magnificent bastard, don’t you ever change.
In Queen West now. Funky neighbourhood. I love it. Like the Annex with a layer of grit. I’d consider living here, though it’s off the subway line. I find myself involuntarily slanting as I stand here writing, like I’m ready to fall over. I don’t feel all that tired though.
I can see the skyscrapers and high rises of downtown in the near distance. And that’s where I’ll start the last quarter of this walk. Feels quite manageable.
I got to Yonge and Queen- the start of the last quarter- and decided to take a bathroom break. Because I don’t use public bathrooms, this means taking the subway to my apartment, then returning by subway to Yonge and Queen. A slight detour, but well worthwhile.
As I stand here on the subway platform, I can feel my knees buckle involuntarily. Other than that, I’m fine. Once I see a toilet I should be able to spend this last quarter in a pleasant delirium.
Got off the subway at Osgoode instead of Queen, so I’ll have to walk two blocks over again. I don’t care- they’re nice blocks.
Night has come over the city now. It’s beautiful. Very romantic. Out where I’m headed, along the sleepier version of Queen past the Don River, it will be quiet and still. Here in downtown the deep blue sky contrasts prettily with all the twinkling, flashing lights.
Hannah called Toronto my “bitch mistress” and it’s true. I’m crazy for this town.
Across the Don River now. I guess I’m in the home stretch. Had to walk through Moss Park, a somewhat challenged neighbourhood, in the dark. The complex of apartment buildings were cast in an eerie yellow glow from about a hundred lights posted to prevent muggings and drug deals.
But now I’m in Riverdale. On Queen Street, east of the Don, nothing ever happens except brunch.
In The Beach now. If it weren’t for its comprehensive lack of accessible spaces, it would be my favourite neighbourhood. It’s full of light and air. There are more patios and golden retrievers than there are people. My legs are very tired, but it’s not unbearable. I don’t feel broken or shredded. Just tired. I’ll be done soon.
DONE. FUCK. TIRED.
On the subway heading back to the Annex. Surprisingly I’m still capable of running. I got to the platform and the train was there, so I just fucking booked it. I’m tired, but goddamn, I’ve still got it.
When I get to the Annex I will eat something’s flesh. And there will be panna cotta. I feel fucking good and fucking knackered. I want to do this again next year. Next year I’ll do it while walking backwards.
If you’d like to donate to Pine River Institute, it would be much appreciated. You can find out more about them here:
And you can donate here: