After a very peaceful nights sleep, we continued northeast towards the first large mountain of the Cabot Trail. When we arrived at the base of Smokey Mountain it was drizzling with rain, and very misty. There is a warning at the base that you
will climb something like 370 metres over 1.3 miles. Yes, it was very steep but I’m glad we were climbing instead of descending. Sherman accomplished the climb without problem. There’s a Provincial day use park at the top, with what we can assume would be fantastic views….but the weather didn’t cooperate, and all we saw was haze and mist. Between the drizzle and the temperature, we still have yet to experience any June type of weather!
We continued in to Ingonish Beach where we made an internet stop, and then we entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park. As with Fundy National Park, this is one of Canada’s expansive and expensive “preservation” areas. A family day use pass costs $19.60, and if you want to go camping it’s another $25.50 to $35.30 on top of that, depending on what type of camping site you require. Oh, and if you want to go fishing, that’ll be another $9.80 for a permit.
There are quite a few hiking trails in the park, and we decide on the Clyburn Valley trail, which is listed as 9.2 kms return to an old abandoned gold mine and ruins. We find the trailhead without a problem, but after that the trail is poorly marked and there are several paths we have to decide on. We choose one that goes right through the 11th hole at Highlands Links Golf Course (don’t ask me why there’s a golf course in a National park…?) and are upset that the trail is so poorly marked. After that, the trail follows the Clyburn Brook inland through the valley. At about the halfway point, there’s a sign blocking the trail saying the trail is closed! Now we’re really upset. If they want to close a trail halfway through, they should have it announced at the beginning of the trail, and saying why it’s closed. We continue around the barrier. We don’t see any footprints other than from moose. We reach the abandoned hotel ruins near the gold mine and there’s a little hut with a guest book in it. There are only 4 other signatures since May 4. We continued on, looking for the entrance to the gold mine. Once again there is a sign saying the trail is closed (must be for the people who ignored the first one!) and there is a dried up stream where there used to be a bridge but it’s washed away. We’re guessing this is the reason for the “closed” sign, besides the odd tree that has fallen down on the trail. We continue past that one too, and walk across the dried up stream with no problem.
The Clyburn Brook Trail
Hotel ruins from 1916 gold mine
As we turned a small corner, I heard some crashing of branches and snorting noises ahead! There have been bear sightings, and that was my first thought, but then I heard what sounded like trotting. As we rounded the bend, there was a moose heading off into the woods. And another one! We took a couple of pictures and continued on. We figured we went another 2 km’s or so, and still couldn’t spot the gold mine, so we turned around. As we headed back through the same area we saw the moose again, but this time we saw 3 of them. Also spotted another garter snake coiled up.
We were gone for 3 ½ hours and we figure we did about 13 km’s. Poor Whiskey was a tired pup! Good thing it was fairly flat.
We found a nice little overnight spot at the harbour pier at the town of Ingonish.
Parked for the night
Total Nights Sleeping in the RV…238
June Fuel $ 321.23
June Grocery $ 377.50
June Overnight Costs $ 58.56