After a stunningly scenic drive north on the east coast of Cape Breton we arrived at the aptly named Hideaway Campground and whooped for joy as our good friend and driver Chris had booked us into the most delightful little cabin, so we got let off camping for night one. Simon whipped up a fire and some tins of chilli which we ate on the deck while watching the sunset - perfect. Pleased to report that my fab new sleeping bag is every bit as toasty warm as I had hoped, so I slept like a log and snored like a wild boar. Awoke to rain and a chill wind; thankfully our impatience hit the road was tempered by protracted packing of gear, so by the time I took my first wobbly steps on the 550 mile trek, only cloud and a nippy breeze remained. Which was just as well-pretty soon we hit the steepest and longest climb I have ever encountered. Layers off, ipod on, and the lowest gear possible... 1,400 feet later I emerged triumphant at the top, red faced, shakey legged and gasping cold mountain air. Quite pleased with myself as I rode most of it and only pushed a bit! We then rode past snow drifts and through the clouds before whizzing down the other side (well the boys whizzed, Si at 41mph, I hung on to my brakes for dear life) into Pleasant Bay - and very very pleasant it is too. As it was our wedding anniversary, my lovely husband had booked us a motel, which annoyingly had ignored his emails and phone call and was still closed for the season, but by a stroke of very good luck the delightful Highland Breeze B&B was open for business, cinnamon rolls big screen TV and a warm welcome included. So we stolled along the beach, ate buckets of mussels and slept in warm beds. Anniversary antics excluded though-they only had one room free, so my son had a campbed in with us :-)
Monday - this is going to be a long blog by the time I get somewhere with a phone signal! Yesterday we climbed McKenzie mountain - I made it to the top with only 2 stops at 'look off' points, and no walking-very pleased with myself. Then along the ridge through freezing wind and finally down the other side - oh and then up again, and again. By the time we hit the real descent I had frozen fingers locked on my brakes, so dug out a pair of wool socks for improvised mittens. Sadly but inevitably by the time we reached the iconic Cape Breton rollercoaster my legs did not want to play any more so I trudged up a few slopes before we finally rolled into Cheticamp and pitched our tents. A huge 'surf'n'turf dinner watching gannets dive in the bay and that was game over for me by 6pm-cue sleeping bag for me while the boys played with fire.
I feel quite guilty this morning as they both froze their butts off all night while I was warm and cozy (did I mention I am in love with my sleeping bag?).
But finally the sun is shining and although there's a cold wind we are all set for a 60 miler along the coast today to Port Hood. Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup for breakfast and away we go.