Pedaling Up The Mountain Called Old Smoke-360 Meter Rise In 2.2 Kilometers

Pedaling Up The Mountain Called Old Smoke-360 Meter Rise In 2.2 Kilometers
333 magnify

333 magnify

For The Rest Of The Evening, It Will Just Be Me And My Book-The Frosting On The Cake

For The Rest Of The Evening, It Will Just Be Me And My Book-The Frosting On The Cake

Mary Ann Falls

Nova Scotia

July 21, ‘82

The coffee is great, but the weather is not. It looks just like I remember Nova Scotia—cloudy, foggy, windy, wet, and generally miserable, but all this has little effect on me right now because I’m watching it from inside this coffee shop. It’s not raining, which means that when I finish writing and get back on my bicycle, I’ll be okay, at least for a little while anyway. I’m on my way to a scenic spot—Marry Ann Falls. It’s a side trip for sure, uphill, and at least ten miles of gravel road, but that’s the name of the game if beauty is what you’re after.

Yesterday, I waited for Mike until 9 am. Beddeck was the adopted home of Alexander Graham Bell, so I decided to tour the museum that was created just for him. I learned a lot about Bell, but I needed at least another hour to take in all the exhibits. I cut my visit short to look for Mike. When I found him he said he had been looking for me since 8 am. I let that statement slide and we set up a plan for the day, which basically consisted of getting to Ingonish, a national park at the northern tip of Cape Breton—our destination. It was after 11 am when I finally said goodbye to Mike who was still puttering with something. We agreed to meet further up the highway—a highway, I might add, that was punctuated by large mountains. In fact, that ruggedness was what influenced my decision not to bike the island when I was here four years ago.

Pedaling up the mountain called Old Smoke, a 360-meter rise in 2.2 kilometers, I was forced to dismount and push my bike to the top. In my younger days that challenge alone would have kept me on my bicycle, but now I just wanted to get to the top. The beautiful Cape Breton scenery made it all worthwhile though. The people were pretty nice too. I was almost to the top, sweating and panting, when this car passed me. The car pulls over to the side of the road and this French guy gets out, his wife still in the passenger seat, and he pulls a cold beer out from the cooler in the trunk of the car. He then hands me the beer. He doesn’t speak English, but there’s no mistaking the message. I smiled and thanked him, as I snapped the top of the beer. The gesture completed, he got back in his car and drove away, and I enjoyed one of the best beers of my life.

From the top of Old Smoke it was a nice ride down to Ingonish. The ocean side of the park was absolutely beautiful, and there on the beach, I found a bulletin board set up for tourists to connect with each other. I left Mike a message. I said I would meet him at the next beach park. It was getting late, so instead of paying for a campsite I decided to hike down into Warren Lake and set up my tent off the trail. The hike was about two miles, beautiful, quiet, and I was totally alone. What can I say, I like being alone.

It rained hard during the night but my tent kept me almost dry. In the morning I backtracked to the bulletin board where I changed my message to read—“I’m staying 7-21-82Mary Ann Falls. I will return tomorrow.” Some tourists told me that the falls were a must-see, so after I posted the message, I went for coffee and breakfast; now, however, its time to get back into the foggy goop. at

July 22

I’m presently sitting upstream from the falls. You can hardly hear the roar of the falls above the sounds of the babbling creek. I’m in front of a blazing campfire drying out, with a hot cup of coffee in my hand. After an almost five-mile walk on a gravel road, I reached the falls and proceeded to scope out the best photographic locations. After taking some photos, I settled in to enjoy my surroundings. There was enough early afternoon sun to entice some of the more adventurous tourists to go swimming beneath the falls. I joined them for a little while, but then it started to rain again. By late afternoon I was the only person still hanging around. I’m in a no camping area, but bicyclers have an invisible advantage, which I have never hesitated to use. Any more company at this point would be a surprise, at least until tomorrow. The weather guarantees it. So, for the rest of the evening, it will be just my book and me—the frosting on the cake.


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