Destination: Another night at Cape Breton National Park, Nova Scotia
I can’t even describe how lovely it was to wake up and not have to tear down camp! Knowing we could wake in leisure was such a gift, especially because it was raining and normally when you have to pack up, waking up to rain is dreadful. But that day we didn’t have to worry about bundling our wet and dirty tents into the tarp to stuff into the back of the car, trying to out-drive the rain so we could eventually spread them out to dry.
I got up and headed for the wifi hotspot – thereafter known as the lukewarm spot. I was glad that it existed in the first place, and secondly that it was contained within a building so I would be in from the rain, but of the five or so of us in that room trying to get any kind of connection, none of us had any real luck.
There was a job opening at the shelter I worked at that I needed to apply for, and the wifi/connection had been really bad the past few days so I’d been counting on this timing. I got my email account to work on HTML only so from there I was finally able to submit my application, but it was a laborious project with many failed sends. I could only hope it got delivered, but my sent mail said it was.
We got in the car when I returned and spent the day travelling up and down the east side of Capre Breton National Park. Our plan was to return to our site at the end of the day and then the following day, travel back down the west side, the way we originally came in. It would be extra driving but it was the only way we could stay at our little basecamp and see everything we wanted to – which was so much!
We spent a lot of our time on the ruddy rocks jutting up from the sea just off the highway. The sky began to clear up, though we’d got rained on our fair share before that happened. The contrast of the jeweled blue with the rust-coloured rocks and the white of the waves and the clouds made for such beautiful photos.
After driving south for some time down the eastern side of Cape Breton, we arrived at our first hike for the day, Middle Head Trail, a 3.8k trail along a gorgeous peninsula. It was a little tricky to find because you had to enter a resort property, but we were able to follow the map and get ourselves to the trailhead. The trail was fairly busy due to the location, but once we got started we had some time to ourselves. It was an intense hike at times, but I also think we were pushing ourselves a bit, knowing what was ahead of us for the day.
The trail changed terrain several times, from steep but wide, to twisting and narrow. It opened up to the sea a few times, and we were high enough up that if we looked directly down, you could see the waves crashing against the rock wall below. The trail ended at a beautiful spot, directly in the sun, overlooking a rocky outcropping where the waves crashed and tangled.
We spent some time there before heading back and finishing the trail. Going back is always difficult because rather than a stunning site like the one we were leaving, the only thing that awaited us was Christine’s car. Which, don’t get me wrong, after that tough hike, we were very much looking forward to seeing!
We also hiked a super steep lookout trail called Freshwater Lake Look-Off. Another one that was a bit hard to find, but we managed it. This killer but blessedly short hike led us to overlook a freshwater pond that was adjacent to the sea, only a thin strip of land separating the two bodies of water.
We stopped for a lunch of snacks at a lovely beach, spending time on the pebbly shore looking at rocks, people-watching, and enjoying some well-earned food.
Our next stop was a beat-up road on the way to Mary Ann Falls. Poor Christine had her stomach in knots trying to avoid all the pot holes. That’s one negative about driving a low, small car. Other people were flying past us, rutting the ground up even worse of course and then giving us a hard time for taking it easy.
We loved the waterfall at the end of the short walk. I saw a fish jump right up out of the water! We waited for a while but didn’t see another one, sadly. We considered jumping in for a swim but by the time we’d sat there for a bit, we were already a little chilly and didn’t think we’d enjoy it as much.
It was time to return to our home base for the night. We picked up some firewood and got back to camp. I grabbed a shower and we started a fire to cook some corn on. The fire gave us a bit of trouble that night, but soon enough we had it going strong. We shucked the corn and smeared it with butter and salt and pepper, then wrapped it in tinfoil and put them on the grill. Three pieces each and so much anticipation! It was so windy outside but the firepit had a grate so it was just a matter of being consistent with the logs.
After we ate our delicious and well-earned dinner. I did the dishes at a dishwashing station – more luxury! – and then returned to camp where I opened up a bottle of wine. We had fought for ages trying to get a tarp up in the trees to cover the picnic table because it insisted on spitting rain, but the end result was less than glamorous, and basically didn’t do much except offer a space to stash our chairs once the night wound down. We both took our time in front of the fire to update our journals and then, happy, full, and warm, retired to our tents.