Ambushed by a Moose
Trip Start Aug 20, 2010
19Trip End Sep 07, 2010
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Kilometers Driven: 120
Miles Hiked: 6.25
Moose Spotted: 4
Black Bear Spotted: 1
Eagles Spotted: 1
Sunsets Witnessed: 1
We awoke to more clouds this morning so took our time showering and packing. Luckily, the sun began to break through as we made our way into Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We pulled into the visitors' centre (they spell it "re") and spoke to a very nice ranger who gave us campground information and suggestions for hikes
Our campsite was fantastic! It was right on the ocean, just a few stone steps up from the beach. Corny Brook blasted its way into the Atlantic practically at our doorstep. All of the iron flowing in the brook turned the ocean a weird rust color. There was only one other couple in the campground when we pulled in (it was still early – about 11:00). They were breaking camp and offered us their site and the rest of their wood that was still burning in the fire pit. The offer led to a very nice conversation. They were travelling from British Columbia – and we thought we’d had a long drive! – and spending seven weeks touring the country. They were taking the ferry to Newfoundland next. It sounded like an amazing trip!
After they left, we set up the tent, had a lovely lunch of pasta over the fire, and wandered the beach for a few minutes. Then it was back into the car to drive some more of the Cabot Trail and take a few short hikes. We stopped at nearly every outlook along the way and were happy to find a group of people watching a black bear at one of the turn outs. The bear was across a valley and up the opposite slope so he was more than a safe distance away
Our first short hike of the day was along MacIntosh Brook to a beautiful waterfall. The path was fun (especially on the way back when we took the path less travelled) and we got some great pictures of the falls. The second stop was an even shorter hike – ok, let’s call it a walk – to the Lone Shieling. It was built to honor the Scottish immigrants of the area (Nova Scotia).
Finally, it was on to the highlight of the day…a guided hike along the Skyline Trail to watch the sunset. The hike had come highly recommended by the rangers at the visitors’ centre, and it didn’t disappoint. Our guide for the evening was John Francis from PEI. It was his last day on the job; he was leaving to study in British Columbia. About 20 hikers headed out onto the trail a little after 6:00.
John Francis stopped a few times to give us information about the different trees in the park and how the moose population was affecting them. We reached the cliff above the ocean about 15 minutes before sunset
We had been told that this hike, particularly at this time of day, was a great way to see moose. We were disappointed on the way out, but started the return trip with high hopes. About half way back, Aaron’s eagle eyes spotted a female moose grazing on the slope above us. Just past her, a mother and her calf were feeding. It was getting dark so the best I could do was a silhouette.
We were now perfectly satisfied with the experience. Aaron and I continued the walk, moving at a faster clip than the rest of the group and quickly outdistancing them. We didn’t have a flashlight, but it wasn’t completely dark and we were feeling pretty confident in our nighttime hike