VIA Canada 150 Trip Part 7: Cape Breton National Park (ii)

Does a single hike suffice for representing the entire and infinite grandeur of the Cape Breton National Park? Heck no. Which is why after I did the hike with Nate, I signed up for a program offered by the Cape Breton National Park; the Sunset Skyline Hike. It is basically a hike around the dusk time to the most famous trail in the entire Cape Breton, the Skyline Trail, so that we can see glimpses of sunset from the top of the mountain. The thought of sitting on top of the highland plateau overlooking the fine shades of sunset submerging into the depth of the distant Atlantic Ocean convinced me that this is not something I want to miss. And I had never been so correct about a decision in my life.

But the highlight wasn’t really about the hike only. It was also the time that I met Brianna, another Cape Breton National Park interpreter who made me realize that Nova Scotians are probably indeed the nicest and kindest people I’ve met in my entire life.

Pro tip: If you’re a solo traveller like me, or in any circumstance where you’re not feeling confident to do this Skyline Trail alone especially after dark, you don’t necessarily have to sign up for this hike just to get some companions like I did. The whole trails are actually made of actual roads so that you do not step outside the designated trails and thus disturb the plants hence the ecological balance they try to keep in the park, so it was such an effortless hike to be honest. (Which is quite unfair because for such views you get on the top of the trail, such easiness just doesn’t do it enough justice!) And there would be plenty of other tourists as well who do the hike by the time you do it no matter what time it is; and even you could basically just follow the group of the people doing the official sunset tour at last. This way you could save 14.70 CAD.

I am not going to blabber much about the details of the hike, for my capability of conveying words wouldn’t even do the scenery a justice to convince you just how good they are. I’ll just let you be my judge after checking out some of my most favourite pictures from the trip:

Beautiful, aren’t they? I hope I did them just enough justice to show just how awe-struck I was!

However as I said before, this wasn’t the only thing that made it a remarkable day to remember by. There’s another chain of events that got me very thankful at the end of that day. And it started when I wanted to book a cab to go back to my hostel from the trail entrance where the hike begins and ends.

There are only two cab companies in the area, and one is normally reserved for upper-class workers such as local doctors or lawyers. So I had to contact Gaby the cab driver to reserve a ride home at 10P.M. Yet somehow, there was no phone signal at all starting from the parking lot. The reception disappearance was pretty devastating as I was really concerned about how the heck was I supposed to go back to my hostel, hence during the entire hike I had to check my phone at all times to see if suddenly I got some.

When I finally did, turned out that the cab driver wasn’t going to answer my call even after more than 30 missed calls. I was wondering, could it possibly because a few hours before I just cancelled my booking as I had been waiting for half an hour where he promised to arrive within 15 minutes?

Nevertheless, if he had been mad at me, shouldn’t he at least give me some explanation and not let me get stranded in the middle of someplace two hours walk away from my hostel, in such time of the day as well? I then told Brianna who was guiding our tour to see if she could give me some advice. She offered options to use her radio and stuff to reach the national park’s office, so I thought it was going to be fine as long as I kept trying to call the cab driver.

But of course he wasn’t going to answer my calls no matter how many times I tried and bothered him with my call. Thus while I still get signals on top of the trail, I called my hostel’s landlord instead because I knew he’d got a few vehicles to get around. Zac then promised to pick me up by 10P.M. at the parking lot, so for a second I was finally able to be fully immersed within the enjoyment of witnessing the most magnificent sunset in my life ever.

Nevertheless, Zac never showed up, even until Brianna and I ended up being the last two persons in the park with Brianna still waiting for me to be rescued safely. Since there’s no signals at all in the parking lot, there was no way I could get back to Zac as well. However, Brianna then managed to find me a ride from a person who would go to the park office, and from there she would be taking over to bring me back to my hostel. I just can never thank her enough for that.

As soon as we left the trail entrance and began to get some poor receptions, I received a text from Zac. He said that his motorbike had stopped working during some steep roads before the mountain, and he told me to literally try to hitch a ride. Like, really? Telling me to hitchhike?

Well, to be honest I was mad for sure, because never in my life I thought I would want to hitchhike with some random strangers in a place that is so unfamiliar to me, let alone in such midnight! Yes it’s true that I ended up hitching ride with a stranger indeed, but it was only because Brianna trusted them to bring me back safely to the park before she took over from there.

And it got me devastated because even before the whole trip, I booked a place at Zac’s hostel simply because he promised that he could give me a tour around the park so that me driving no cars wouldn’t be a problem. Well, it was actually a problem then because it turned out that all his vehicles did not work. And not even working to just bring me back home in such emergency circumstance.

It got me exhausted as well to the point where the night skies were amazingly clear that night and I was quite sure I could get some really great astrophotography session if I had the willingness to go outside and try to capture a few shots, but I just didn’t bother. At the very least, I was just being very thankful for Brianna who had been giving so much effort into waiting with me at the parking lot, finding me a ride to the park, then driving me home all the way from the park. All without a single sign of annoyance, and even we still talked like a couple of good friends along the way. It wasn’t even part of her responsibility and she was only doing that out of humanity.

Well, at the end of the day, I am still happy for that incident made me get along well with Brianna, another Acadian in the Cape Breton Island that left me some personal remarks for her kindness. And on top of that, nothing beats the bliss of being able to watch the sun slowly set in the Atlantic Ocean that evening.

Written by

A geologist, self-taught photographer, hobbyist writer, and wanderer who loves subtle colours, sunrays, mother nature, wilderness, adventures, flowers in the afternoon, quiet corners of a city, being literally - yet not figuratively - on top of the world, solo travels, trips by train, fascinating rocks, vintage postcards, and aesthetically pleasing urban landscapes.

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