It was a perfect Saturday morning. The sun was shining and the air was warm as I arrived at Port Morien Beach for the beginning of the “Bike and Hike.” The ride was scheduled to start at 9 am. By 8:55, I was still the only one there and quite happily resigned myself to the fact that I might be doing this as a solo event. Well, that wouldn’t be a problem since I love to be alone in the beautiful scenery of our island. It is as spiritual an experience as I can have – dancing alone, yet not alone, with the land and sea and sky of my island – swirling infinitely in the blue/green that I see when I close my eyes and think of home.
At 9 am, another rider showed up. It was Colette, a friend of mine and fellow Velo CB member. We had been on rides together in the past and I was very happy to see her. I knew that we shared a love of riding and the natural world. She informed me that her sister, brother-in-law, nieces and daughter would be joining us for the hike at Schooner Pond. So, Colette and I had a nice ride through Morien to Schooner Pond – through the beautiful fishing village and down along the winding coast with Flint Island sparkling in the sunlight offshore as we sped down the last hill to the hiking trail at Schooner Pond.
The best part of the adventure was the hike. It was a very relaxing stroll along the cliffs at Schooner Pond. The children’s fascination with the natural world made my day. The girls gently tried to catch some of the thousands of beautiful purple butterflies that were flitting along from flower to flower. Every once in a while, you would hear a scream of delight as one of the girls managed to get one in her hands. It would stay just long enough for her to emit that scream and then flutter off again. I pointed out different seabirds and we stopped for awhile to admire the black guillemots, my favourite birds. They would let out shrill forlorn cries as they skimmed across the water’s surface, their goofy and beautiful red legs shaking underneath them as they flew away from us. We stopped at a puddle to look at frogs – the girls were fascinated by this. There were so many frogs – leopard frogs and green frogs. Some sat on the edge of the puddle’s banks and tried to look invisible. Others floated in the water, legs outstretched, ever so slowly moving in the direction of water beetles, stealthily trying to gather their lunch for the day. At the farthest point of our walk we stopped to look at cormorants and seals. The seals were hard to pick out at first because their heads were the same size and shape as the hundreds of buoys which marked the location of lobster traps.
We ended the hike by going to the beach and collecting 300 million year old, carboniferous age fossils. All were amazed with the perfect preservation in stone of these ancient, pre-dinosaur fern forests. A trunk of one tree hangs in the cliff over the water, perfectly preserved. At Schooner Pond, we can connect intimately with the very distant past and 300 million years doesn’t seem like a long time when you are holding this rock life in your hands.
Colette and I said our good-byes to the other hikers and rode through Donkin to Big Glace Bay Beach. There we parted ways and the adventure ended. But many other adventures are waiting for the bikers and hikers of Cape Breton. On August 9, Velo Cape Breton offers the Pedal to the Petals Tour. This is a relaxed but inspiring tour of prize-winning local gardens. For more details about this and other rides, visit www.velocapebreton.com. Stay tuned for more of my adventures and misadventures as I prepare to tackle the Cabot Trail in September.