Park Drive Drain
In June, Persephone and I arranged to investigate the mammoth drain emptying out at Toronto's Park Drive Reservation with Pyroartist and his friend Matt. It was... memorable.
After Pyro used his car jack to lift up the incredibly heavy entrance to the drain, we posed for a couple of commemorative pictures (which I'm going to get from the bastard one of these days) and hopped inside the drain, which is considerably larger than any drain any of us has ever seen. After a while, we came to our first "waterfall chamber": a gigantic underground room (by Canadian standards, at least) where torrents of water plunged down toward us from another pipe, and where the floor was perforated with several deep water pits which would certainly make for a cold and unpleasant swim. Happily, a metal ladder and catwalk had been supplied to help us ascend from the the waterfall chamber to the upper pipe. Unhappily, some past flood had washed the catwalk away, leaving only the frame. So we climbed the ladder and carefully made our way along the frame to the new pipe. Twenty minutes later, we did the same again at the next waterfall chamber.
As we started to approach the third waterfall chamber, we came upon some ladders leading up to a manhole, and Pyro decided he wanted to take a peek outside and see how far up the drain we'd travelled, so he, Matt and I climbed up five or six storeys and attempted to push off the manhole cover. It wasn't budging, so we concluded it was bolted from the outside.
Most people probably would've given up at that point, but Pyro was stubborn to the point of obsession, and he recruited first Matt then myself into helping him push at the cover for about 40 minutes, and continued to push it alone after Matt and I had given up. The rest of us were cold and bored and fed up, and I suggested to Pyro that he give up. He only replied that there was absolutely no way he was leaving until he pried the cover loose. At that point, I thought about taking off with Persephone (and Matt, if he wanted), but the four of us only had two decent flashlights between us, and Pyro's had been working unreliably since he'd dropped it in the water earlier, so I couldn't bring myself to leave.
On the other hand, we'd been in the same spot in the drain for about an hour now, and I couldn't bring myself to stay there any longer, so Persephone and I wandered further up the drain to peak at the next waterfall chamber. We'd only been there a few minutes when we heard extremely loud yelling from further back. We rushed back and found Matt, who told us jubilantly that Pyro had finally removed the cover and was now waiting for us to come join him on the surface! We raced to the surface and popped out of the manhole, joining Pyro in a small parkette in northern Toronto.
As we merrily changed our footwear, all was jubilantly forgiven and forgotten. Pyro was thrilled to have triumphed over the manhole cover; Persephone, Matt and I were thrilled to not have to spend the rest of our lives hearing the phrase "five more minutes". We were all thrilled to have had a successful expedition.
That's when the cops walked up. One friendly male Canadian Pacific cop, two rather humourless female city cops. "How long have you been down there? Days? Weeks?" asked the CP cop. "No, just a couple of hours," Matt replied. "Well, I heard a lot of yelling down there while I was passing through the area," he explained as he collected our ID, "so I called these officers. They're going to decide what to do with you. It may be just a warning, or it may be a ticket for trespassing." I did my best to seem humble and contrite and poor, but eventually the police decided to give us each a $65 ticket for trespassing (an offence they had to look up, and for which they had to modify a parking ticket). A perfect end to a perfect evening.
This story originally appeared in Infiltration 16, together a whole bunch of other stories about infiltrators getting caught in the act.