September 10th-12th

Published: September 14th 2013
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I moved across the park to the Atlantic side of Cape Breton Highlands. The drive across the top of the highlands is stunning with views down to the sea. The camp ground at Broad Cove is much more my style. There is a lot of space between most camp sites and lots of trees for those of us who create tarp cities. My spot has no one around me at all, there are not many camping any more.

I thought that I was coming to this side to get some real paddling time, but it's raining again and the last soaking is giving me pause. So I'm off to try the Coastal Trail. This trail starts in boreal forest on a well gravelled wide path and I start to feel let down. I get to the beach where you can see the full town spread out in a line of Neil's harbour and things start to change. The beach is lovely, with soft sandy and lots of room to play; no one is there today, in fact I see no one all day. The trail changes to a narrow, well used path, that takes you through the dense brush that grows almost to the ocean edge. I come out on my first cobble beach and a bald eagle takes off in flight from the rocks I'm about to scramble over. Cobbles is the word they use to describe the rocks that I call shifting half boulders. The scramble is that fun focus of watching and judging each step, while feeling exhilarated by each jump taking off in short flights. All the while the surf is bounding on to the rocky shore just meters away. I loved it. You continue to wind into the trees, and then out on to bare flat rock, and then back to a boulder/cobble beach for the next 5 km. Each beach is a cove that has arms reaching out to protect the space. One beach had fist size rocks at the water's edge that tumbled with a rumbling music every time the waves withdrew. One cove had flats of rock jutting out of the water as sanctuary to the birds, and the final cove had a narrow, meters wide opening with high cliffs of red veined rock. Each turn was a new wonder, and underlining it all the crash of the surf. I took a couple of detours on the way back. First, I went around the Jack Pine loop. There had be a fire in 1921 and now there was a mainly Jack Pine forest for a number of kilometres. It was a bit eerie after all of the mixed forests that I've been walking through recently. The second detour added another 5km to an already 11km hike. I went inland around a little calm lake. It was peaceful. Then back out to the shore to walk back to my starting point. It's been my favourite hike in Nova Scotia.

Today, I chose to hike again instead of heading out to the water, and I second guessed myself all day. The hike was along the highlands for about 14km. It had beautiful forest, then beautiful highland brush. I picked huge juicy blueberries the whole hike. The trail just wasn't that exciting. Of course, nature always has to prove me wrong. I got out to the look out point. You could see the cliff heads jutting into the sea in the distance. You got a sweeping view of the low brush highlands and before I was able to get my camera out, I got a good view of the bear who was eating berries about 40 metres away. I'd been hoping for a moose all trip, I'll take a bear, who doesn't notice me any day. I did not stay for a photo, and quietly slipped back along the trail. Back at the camp site now, I'm tired after two days of longer hikes and excited to see Jacob tomorrow at Fort Louisbourg. Good night and Sweet dreams

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