Friday, August 28, 2009
Weather, like time, changes everything. In a visitor center I'd seen a satellite picture of Cape Breton in winter; not surprisingly, it was completely covered in snow. I got up this morning at the usual time. It was the coldest I'd felt this entire trip, and when Carol woke she refused to believe it hadn't snowed during the night. In spite of my numerous entreaties, she refused to budge from her warm cocoon until the sun got about its business. Finally, by early afternoon, things had warmed sufficiently to venture forth. After a careful review of our options we elected to take a bike ride up a trail that followed a salmon spawning creek. The ride and views were, as usual, extraordinary. In spite of sunshine, the day remained cold and windy so after about 6 miles we returned to the Casita to revive ourselves. Nothing like a hot cup of tea on a blustery, cold day to set things right. Later, we rallied and set out for a short hike that we had considered taking earlier. It turned out to be a pleasant loop that overlooked the campground. Nothing special, but one segment did remind me of the picture that often accompanies Robert Frost's poem, “The Road Less Traveled”.
We were so invigorated by the days doings that we decided to attend that evening's Ranger program. Accordingly, after a tasty, hot meal, we hopped onto the bikes and set off into the sunset to learn more about Cape Breton's wild cats. After a brief consultation with the ever trusty park map, it looked like finding the amphitheater would be a cinch. Not only did all of our shortcuts fail to be short, but by the time we arrived we discovered the program had been canceled. Disappointed, we pedaled back to the visitors center to check the outside bulletin board. Could we have possibly missed such an important announcement? No. We missed nothing because there was nothing. For a national park to treat such matters so cavalierly bordered on the outrageous. Anyway, we headed back home as Jupiter beamed down on us. So much for being disappointed. The mere sight of stars and planets and their implications have a way of redirecting one's thoughts.
Before turning in for the night, we usually take one last stroll through the campground to give Nicky a final opportunity to complete any unfinished business. That was when we heard the howling. At first we thought it must be a dog crying to be freed of its tether. However, after several hours of unabated wailing, we understood. This was no dog. The animal in question was deep in the woods and in it's death throes. We imagined a pack gathered around it's mortally wounded member, guarding helplessly as it lay dying. The agony lasted well into the night; however, by morning the stillness was almost as eerie as the wailing had been.