A Walk in the Woods

Posted on September 16, 2015 under Storytelling with one comment

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A little slice of paradise



“I can see for miles and miles …”

I Can See for Miles – The Who

I roll over and peer at the clock. It is 4:20 am. I start to wonder, “Whose bright idea was it anyway to watch the sun come up over Ballantyne’s Cove at 6:30 A.M., followed by a three hour hike? Why, it was mine, of course.” I had planned to tackle a particular trail out at “The Cape” for quite some time. I had invited my brother, a seasoned hiker, to join me. I slide my creaky bones over the side of the mattress, as countless thousands of others my age will do in short order. There is no more leaping out of bed.

I rub the sleep from my eyes. Last night was a rough one … a big party night. I would love to confess that it was me who was in the middle of the throng of students next door, kicking off another year at St. F.X. No. Those days are long gone but I certainly had a ringside seat, listening to the cheers and howls until the wee hours of the morning. None of the neighbors called the police. Most of us remember those days and know that things will die down when classes start.

At exactly 6:00 (my family is notoriously punctual) I pick up my brother and hit the road on what must be the clearest, most star filled morning of the summer.

We parked the car at the entrance to the Lighthouse Road. A soft, warm breeze had made its presence felt even at this ungodly hour. I have heard of arriving at a prom or some other special event “with bells on”, but I must say that I was just a tad mystified when Gerard pulled out two small yellow tinkling spheres attached to Velcro straps. I was about to ask him when he pre-empted me with one word: BEARS.

We grabbed our backpacks and crossed the road to enter the trail. Did I mention that I also had a small Martin travel guitar strapped to my back? No, I wasn’t planning on serenading the wildlife. One of the purposes of the hike was to scout out possible locations for a photo shoot. With book number 3 soon to be published, we were looking at some ideas for the cover.

Just as we were about to commence our trek, we turned around and watched a most magnificent display by Mother Nature as the sun rose over the Northumberland Strait. We stood in silence and in awe.

I offered to let the more experienced hiker take the lead. I had done some thinking after attaching the “distant early warning” yellow jingling ball to my belt buckle. I reckoned that my younger brother would be a far more appetizing meal for a bear!

The conditions could not have been better. In the shelter of the woods, the firs and spruce provided a natural, cooling canopy. When we came to open areas, the aforementioned warm breeze kept us comfortable and bug free. Idyllic, really.

Not far along the trail we saw the first of many piles of bear scat. When I think of scat, I have this mental picture of Ella Fitzgerald. It is a thrilling image. The fresh excrement on the ground didn’t give me the same kind of vibe.

Along the way we saw a handful of benches with dedications to loved ones who lived in the area and walked these woods … a wonderful way to pay tribute.

We reached the summit and looked off into the distance. You can see all up and down two coastlines, with P.E.I. and Cape Breton easily recognizable. We opened our packs for a nutrition break. I had packed a peanut butter sandwich and a handful of carrot sticks. When you are surrounded by the wonders of nature, this humble fare is a meal fit for a king.

We pondered about retracing our steps to bring us back to the car and decided instead to complete the loop. This meant that at the end of the hike we would be several kilometers away from our car.

The banter along the trail was about work, family and health. We both acknowledged our extreme good fortune to be well enough to hike and to be able to do it in one of the safest places in the world. Hiking and gratitude are worthy traveling partners.

The descent was rapid and we found ourselves emerging from the woods across the road from the wharf. There is a feeling of satisfaction when the job is complete. I slipped the guitar off my back and we stood there waiting for a car or truck to come by. One can only imagine how bewildering it must have looked to the kind folks who came upon us five minutes later. Two sixty something guys, one toting a guitar and both with yellow jingling balls hanging from their belts. We should have flashed a peace sign for old time’s sake.

Two of the ladies in the car walk this road daily. They leave one car at the bottom of the steep hill and take another to the top. We teased them that they have chosen to walk downhill rather than up! They dropped us off at our vehicle and moments later, we were on our way back home.

The next time someone tells you to “Take a hike”, give them this answer:

“With pleasure!”

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Highland Hearing Clinic

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