Thursday Tidbits

Posted on August 1, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Highlands Hostel – Cape North


Yup. That whooshing sound you just heard was July of 2019 leaving through the back door.

The days. The weeks. The months. The years. The older I get, the faster they go.

I took a road trip earlier this week on Monday with a couple of friends. Armed with our Cape Breton passports, we successfully negotiated the Canso causeway without incident and headed off for the Cabot Trail. My mission was quite simple. I wanted to do a detailed mapping of the mileage (kilo meterage… is that a word?) of The Cabot Trail starting at the Red Barn near Nyanza and going clockwise through the Margaree Valley, around the west side of the island and around to the east side ending up once again at the Red Barn.

We picked a great day to drive. We saw a bear on French Mountain, visited some friends and had an ice cream at the Farmer’s Daughter. Yes. We got caught in that terrific thunder and lightning storm and torrential downpour. I have done a lot of driving in my life and that may have been one of the most challenging except for blizzards in winter.

I think I can safely say that besides the fantastic lunch at Kathleen and Alfred’s in Cape North (her butterscotch pie is a perfect 10!), I think the most interesting stop of the day was at the Highlands Hostel in Cape North. Bricin, a very interesting guy and likely the subject of a full blown story,showed us his property. He bought a church a few years back and converted it into a hostel. It’s hard to describe. They’ve done a fantastic job re-purposing the building and it might be the most unique hostel I’ve ever seen. I have no doubt that I will spend a night there when I circumnavigate the Trail in late August.

I simply can’t drive by the Clucking Hen without stopping in. It’s like there’s a giant magnet pulling me off the road. I stopped in to chat with Melody and Marion, a friend of hers. Marion walked a large chunk of the Trail many years ago and shared some of her experiences.  Even though me and my companions had only had lunch a few hours earlier, we couldn’t resist a bowl of their famous seafood chowder.

Ok. So here’s the deal. I will likely head off to start my walk around the 20th of August. I’ll need to bum a ride to get to the Red Barn. I’ll buy you a coffee and homemade muffin at the Herring Choker as your reward. And gas money, of course. My plan is to find accommodations with families along the way. Tentatively, here’s where I’ll be stopping. If you know anybody in these communities maybe you can ask them if they’ll take in a vagrant for the night. In exchange for a room, I’ll interview them for my book.

Day 1 – North East Margaree

Day 2 – Grand Etang

Day 3- Pleasant Bay

Day 4 – Pleasant Bay *

Day 5 – Cape North

Day 6 – Cape North **

Day 7 – Ingonish (close to Dino’s former restaurant)

Day 8 – Wreck Cove (nearest to the base of Cape Smokey)

Day 9 – Tarbot

Day 10 – Big Harbour exit on the 105

Day 11- Pick up at Red Barn

*My most pressing need is on Day 3 and Day 4. There are no amenities or homes from Cheticamp to Pleasant Bay. I need to find someone from Pleasant Bay to pick me up on French Mountain and take me to Pleasant Bay. If I can’t find a home there, I will stay at the hostel in the community. On Day 4, I need someone to take me from Pleasant Bay back to French Mountain where I stopped walking the previous day. I will then walk to Pleasant Bay and stay there once again at a home or the hostel.

Day 6. I’m thinking of taking a rest day in Cape North after walking for two days in the mountains. I know my quads will need a rest. I’ll either stay at the hostel or with a family if they’re brave enough to have me.

Some of these logistics will be a little tricky to coordinate as there is poor cell phone service for large swaths of the Cabot Trail.

Besides walking and writing a book, most of you know that I am dedicating my walk to Simone MacDonald who suffered a devastating stroke a few weeks ago. I will collect pledges or donation before or after the walk with 100% of the money going to assist Simone during her rehabilitation. You can send me an e-transfer at or mail me your donation at my home address: 8-9B Court Street, Antigonish, N.S. B2G 1Z7.

Any leads on accommodations along the Trail greatly appreciated.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. I was walking home from the bakery last night with a bag of dinner rolls. Nobody stopped to say that I had nice buns. I was mildly offended.


The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see.



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