I thought I knew Cape Breton Island like the back of my hand but one summer day’s drive around the Cabot Trail proved that I had been wrong. As I was driving through Pleasant Bay, I noticed a road I had never driven on before. Being the curious and adventurous person that I am, I decided to see where it went. The paved section of road went for about half a mile before turning to gravel. Usually when a road turns to gravel, I turn around. However, on this occasion, my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to see where to road led. I drove for a while longer and rounded a bend to a surprising sight; a Buddhist shrine. Now my curiosity really got the better of me. I got out of the car and walked around. A path led from the edge of the road into the woods where there was a stream with Buddha statues placed in various places. I eventually came to a building and that is when I realized I had happened upon a Buddhist monastery. I walked the grounds some more and discovered that there were visiting hours for people to go inside the monastery and learn more about it. It was closed to the public when I was there but I will be returning when the weather gets nicer to check it out and explore the beautiful surroundings some more! The area was so serene and peaceful, I could have spent the entire day there...or even a week!
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I love waterfalls so when I heard there were beautiful waterfalls located deep in the mountains of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park near Ingonish, I immediately set out in search of them. After a fairly long and steep drive on a gravel road up Broad Cove Mountain, I came to the parking lot of Maryanne Falls. A short walk to a set of stairs that took me to the bottom of the falls and they came into view. I soon discovered there were in fact two waterfalls, one of top of the other, with pools deep enough to swim in at the bottom of each one. There were rocks perched alongside the pools to allow swimmers to safely jump into the clear, deep waters. I took a refreshing dip in the pool beneath the lower falls, walked along the stream that went deeper into the mountains and returned to take a perch high on the rocks above the falls for a better view and a relaxing rest surrounded by the natural beauty of the area.
I drove by the entrance to the Skyline Trail on Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail hundreds of times before I actually decided to hike it for the first time. I started the hike late one morning and was surprised by how easy the trail was. Just a straight, gravel road through the woods that turned into an easy path. I was told I would see moose on my hike and I saw my first one only twenty minutes into the hike. It calmly crossed the path in front of me and walked a few feet into the brush where it stopped to eat from a tree. I kept walking until I reached a clearing where there were more moose grazing in the field including a very young and curious one who came very close to me to check me out! A few minutes later, I came to a different kind of clearing, one with a view that was beyond what words can explain. To my right were the mountains and rolling hills and in front of me and all around was the Atlantic Ocean and a look-off right on the edge of a steep cliff where, below, a group of whales had followed a school of fish into shore. I walked to the bottom of the series of stairs that led almost to the shoreline and gazed upon the spectacular view before me for what seemed like forever. I stayed until the sun set and made my way back to the car by twilight. The sound of coyotes in the distance and fresh bear droppings on the trail stirred a bit of fear in me but it was one of the most amazing hikes I had ever taken and the risk was worth every moment!