Friday, 11 August 2017

The Place of Freedom

One magnificent thing about the birds is their ability to fly - the powerful, one of a kind taste of freedom only they could achieve naturally. 

Southwestern Ontario is a place to celebrate so many different kind of birds. There is this small dot on the geographic map - Point Pelee, that appoints the most southern part of Canada, where the birds organize their annual assembly in early spring and "invade" the territory, spreading colour and joy all over. But this is not the subject of my story. I will take you to a place where one could feel like a bird for a moment, looking at the Earth from above, but without the freedom of soaring in the air; and to a unique island - a small but vibrant bird community.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Even if you don't have the ability to hike, it is worth driving all around the park and savouring the views from every angle. And when you reach your starting point, just do it again in the opposite direction, to be again amazed by the same sceneries from a different point of view. And than - do it again - I guarantee, you will see new beautiful places. 

Today's adventure is the East part of Cabot trail, starting from the small but picturesque Baddeck and the goal is to conquer Franey trail and Middle Head. In the Park Map , they are marked as #22 and #24.

Franey is described as 'Steep climb to panoramic views of Clyburn River canyon and Atlantic Ocean. - 2-3 hrs/8.1 km.' I got hooked at panoramic views of canyon and ocean. I guess I missed or underestimated the 'steep climb'. 

This trail is totally worth the hard effort - I felt it in my bones and joints afterwords (for days), but the  view... well, lets just say, that you get to experience the feeling of how tiny we are, compared to Nature. 

After the rough path of gravel, the trail leads to a steep rocky climbing area, that is perfectly tolerable. At the steepest sections, it is well equipped with stairs, that make the climbing more comfortable, but doubtfully easier. At one point, I had the feeling we are climbing straight up, on a 'staircase to Heaven'. And it was.

There so many beautiful places to stop and enjoy the little things. The plants are really pretty and perfect. It is a unique combinations of sunny spots and super shady shelters, of steepness and evenness, of anticipation and eagerness. The thing that is not a variable here, is the beauty. 

And just when you think you have seen it all, you captured so many beautiful pictures for your mental album, when your legs are all tired, but continue moving, because if they stop, it hurts, just then, you climb on the roof of this place, where there is no more climbing, no changing scenery, no existence as you know it.

What the eyes see is never possible to be captured by a camera. Eyes look with the heart. Right here, in this ginormous red chair, you get to experience the ability to see with every beat of your heart. It stops being about the beautiful image in front of you, it becomes a feeling - with all five senses of your body you feel this place. Only here, it is possible to look at the Earth from above and stop identifying yourself as a human, but as a particle of the Universe. 

I am not going to spoil this amazing trail with any more pictures. It is a 270° view of Nature in its purity.

The little land, in the middle of the picture above is our next visit - the Middle Head trail. From above, the red roofs of Keltic Lodge are visible, and I still had no idea what beauty they are in close-up. 

As I mentioned before, when traveling along the Cape Breton Highlands, or Cabot Trail, it is worth doing it more than once and in opposite direction. Same applies for Franey. Climbing down  seems easier and it is a constant reveal of South Bay Ingonish.

Before reaching to Middle Head, Keltic Lodge welcomes every visitor with its beautiful garden and places to rest, in front of simply built in classical red and white romantic houses.

Middle Head trail is long, but nice to walk and really calming. There are few places on the way to the rocky resting area where you reach the Bay, opening your horizon towards the limitless ocean. 

The National Park is not the only place to visit in Cape Breton Island. There are so many other mesmerizing spots here, that capture my attention. One adventure, that I can not say "No" to, is: 

The Birds Island

It starts with a boat tour.

There are two tours that are offered in Cape Breton. We chose the Bird Island. This is a family of four (five, if you count the boat), that lives and works on this fabulous place, where Bra D'or lake and the Atlantic hold hands. 

The captain, a Dutch seaman, started visiting the Bird's island with his grandfather and during the trip, really opens people mind for facts, not written in the books and not studied at school. Life here looks really simple, when one comes from busy life of the big city, but when I listened to the stories and the problems these people stand against, I realize, that it is a fight for survival and they have so many difficult decisions to make, not only concerning their life, but the  life of the land they live on, the development and maintenance of the area of their living. 

When I say 'visit' the island, don't make the mistake of picturing yourself getting in touch with it. Here, people are very protective of their gifts from Nature. The strive for preserving as much as possible what they have is really strong, and, of course, it comes from the knowledge they earned by making mistakes in the past, but the passion behind it is absolutely admirable. 

The captain "walked us" around the island and shared so much information, I could tell, he loves what he is doing with all his heart. The wind and sun weren't merciful to him at all but in every white hair and every wrinkle, there was so much experience and love he was collecting for the last 45 years.

Coming back to the land is not in any way less beautiful adventure. There is a big land around with chairs for resting, benches and swing, and we stayed there for quite awhile to soak all the peacefulness and charm of life close to Nature. 

Wave to fishermen, when you see them. People here are extremely friendly! This place turns you into a better person. Vanity here can not survive. Only Nature rules.

If you have a chance, visit this amazing part of our planet! I promise, you won't regret it. If you don't have a chance, come back here again, I have more to tell you.

Thank you for sharing this moment with me! 

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