Getting ready in an overcast morning for our next destination, we knew already that we have no way going back, but only one way going forward. When looking on the map, one can see that NS doesn’t seem too big, but heading to the north of the island, Cape Breton, took us quite a bit.
A shy sun with seldom boldness shining beyond the friendly clouds gave us the urge to get sooner to our final destination. Great traffic with an excellent driver helped us get in no time to our new place Cheticamp, where we found the coziest place and warmest host at the gate of Cape Breton National Park.
But as the good news are not always coming alone, we found out that the forecast is not so great for the next few days. After all, we didn’t take the rain with us from our previous destination, but the rain found the shortcut and was coming fast.
As we had no plan B for the next day, on a cloudy morning, while it was drizzling on the whole coast, we decided that nothing we can lose if we go to the visitor centre, at the gate of the park. And so we found a pack of people at the centre, asking for maps, instructions, passes, and especially for the forecast. After all, the mist didn’t scare anybody, and I start wondering how come the rain didn’t get scared already by this crowd of visitors.
The impressive 3D map laid on the whole central wall revealed how large the park was, and have noticed it’s almost half of the Cape Breton Island itself, and all surrounded by the famous Cabot Trail.
While getting the map of the park and the advice about best trails we could see, we found the worst news as well: the rain was all over the island, the western coast where we were up to the eastern coast, so basically no sunny trail, or dry at least.
As we have been advised, we decided to start with some trails on the Eastern coast, with those that have waterfalls as they might look beautiful on these rainy days. And remember our first day shopping?.. We still have ponchos and umbrellas, so nothing we can be afraid of!
All the way to the Eastern coast, via N route, was uphill, downhill, canyons, panoramic views, countless stops to enjoy the view of the sea, highlands and coastlines. Foggy portions of the road made us have creepy thoughts: we could not see the front of the car at times, then 50 m of visibility then all grey again. When the fog started to clear up and a beautiful river going through a canyon showed up on our right at a sudden curve, the whole valley and the bay ahead were laying graciously under our eyes; it was like we were driving right into the sea, until we turned quickly to the right, few metres away from the rocky edge. That was the northern point of the road before turning to the east.
And guess what? All of a sudden, someone was smiling at us. Yes, you guessed right: The Sun was again our friend, with just few clouds beside. Little windy, indeed, but our friend was laughing at us, like he was making the biggest joke for April’s Fool. And indeed fools we were to believe all the morning forecast. So we have learned our lesson: if it’s raining or cloudy on one coast of the island, it doesn’t mean to be the same on the other side.
And so we got to the point where we did few trails in this first awesome day of our new adventure: Jigging Cove, MacIntosh Brook, Jack Pine.
Accordingly with the map, there are not many restaurants in the area, and not opened for too long. So, taking that in consideration we had an early supper, just to ensure we will not run the risk to get no food at all for the rest of the evening. We had our first lobster in the area. And one of the best, I can assure you. Family owned little restaurant, great soup, lots of sandwiches and an awesome view from the top of a cliff where the terrace was actually located.
Coming back to Cheticamp was in a cheerful mode, even some of the clouds seemed to go elsewhere.
As the next day turned up to a repeated story, we took our way straight to the Eastern coast, again.
Different trails, different views, wild nature, forgotten world. Areas with vivid green forest, mixed with dried, ravaged and devastated areas made the most astonishing concept of this park. The greyed, abandoned and burnt looking areas were so opposite with the light green and lively, that first time was so hard to grasp it. Then all this was repeated at every 10-20 kms apart, until we got emerged into this alternating scenery.
The other striking thing was the silence. The background noise I always experienced when hiking was mostly from birds, squirrels, wind and trees. There, in Cape Breton, everything was quiet. Occasional hikers were met on different trails, but there were times if we would stop walking, we could hear our own breath. Nothing else!
All trails have lots of signs to watch for moose’s, which I would have loved to see one. But I guess their population is declining, because, to our disappointment, we have seen none. It is true; we were out of the trails at dusk or dawn, when they supposed to come out for feeding.
To name few trails for this day: Coastal, Bog, Benjie’s Lake.
It did happen totally by chance that we left best activities on the last and our third day here; kayaking in Dingwall and Skyline trail were the best of Cape Breton. Especially when the sky started to clear up and finally the fog decided to move its residence to some other places.
We had the feeling we could really fly once getting on top of the Skyline, with a wind blowing more than 150 km/hr. That was truly unexpected since we could not suspect anything along the trail, which goes through the forest. Suddenly, once in the opening on the western coast, with nothing to restrain the power of the wind, we start holding our hands together, grasping a random bench on our way, so we could steady ourselves. We had the most amazing and beautiful scenery, the endless ocean, and from the top of the cliff we had enjoyed the glaring and shiny water with thousands and thousands of glimmering dots like a sparkling pot of pearls spread all over the floor. This has actually reminded me of the Eiffel Tower, when at night it started to sparkle with thousands of lights in the dark.
The view from the top of the island was indeed the most memorable image from the whole island. You could feel the nature, you could feel the freedom.