Washed Away on Mt. Smoky

I am having quite the adventure….


Serene coastal view off to Wreck Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Woke up to this gorgeous Effie Brook in the morning, the sun was shining, and I was excited and ready to bike some more mountains.


Ruisseau Effie

I hit the Cabot Trail, my new favorite road, and went back up into the highlands. It was a warmer day today and sunny where it seems like it’s often overcast here. There is nothing out here at the north end of the island except for many beautiful trees and large hills where you can see through the breezy, fluttering leaves to the perfect blue ocean. And it’s quiet. The morning made me giddy it was so nice, biking up the first mountain and coming down fast.


The Atlantic

The island soon was to remind me of the Virgin Islands again as I came to Ingonish, only here it is more vast. Ingonish was an expansive turquoise bay with sandy beaches. The crescent moon shaped bay sat at the base of steep green mountains.


Ingonish Bay


Ingonish Harbor



It took a long time to bike through Ingonish, but around each following corner I kept being surprised by the continued, varying beauty of the island. The weather was so fantastic as the road followed the sea coast. It was sunny, but it was raining, with rain drops so small you probably wouldn’t even be able to see them on your car windshield, but I could feel them. It was the most refreshing weather on earth. The road banked around marshes and mountains and I took a break laying on piles of moss between the pines.



Then I climbed Cape Smoky, around Mt. Smoky, a dramatic seaside peak. The view of the sparkling blue was possibly my favorite of the entire journey. A rapid and joy filled descent left me decently wrecked in the town of Wreck Cove, so I posted up by the clean, crystal waters of Millis Brook, in a forest of moss and mosquitoes.


It’s better to see things on a bike, you can’t just stop in the middle of the highway and take these pictures if you’re driving!


The next day was overcast and beautiful still, and I finished the bike ride with a final 40 miles through the mountainous interior of Cape Breton. It was different from the rest of the ride, of the four days of this trip, each has been distinctly different. I love this place! I wish I could do this ride again! I’ll never forget this one! The Cape Breton interior was lush, seldom traveled, rugged, and wild.


Town of Goose Cove, Nova Scotia


Trans Canada highway, the last stretch of the Cabot trail went along this… someday I think I’d like to bike across Canada!

Funny, nothing went wrong on the trip, and THEN I encountered quite a few problems right as it ended. Here’s the story…
I decided to drive back up the Cabot Trail and camp at Cape Smoky. I needed to spend the next day resting completely, and I figured while I’m still in the area, why not go back to my favorite spot. It was dark though, when I drove back the fifty kilometers to Cape Smoky. I found a halfway decent spot and camped, the next day started really mellow and easy cooking breakfast and cleaning my truck. Overcast again.
I went to go explore and possibly find somewhere different to camp for tonight, possibly somewhere with a view, this is where curiosity killed the cat. I found a dirt track snaking dangerously further up the mountain slope. I gave it a shot, and it wasn’t a problem for four wheel drive. At the top of the long road, I arrived at radio towers on the summit of Mt. Smoky. The views were expansive out to Ingonish and Wreck Cove, however I actually didn’t get any photos. There were billions of blueberries ripe for the picking and I had found an awesome spot to camp.
In fact my camera was on the charger, but I had my car running on the battery only, I also had a gps plugged in, and was listening to the radio. Wouldn’t you know it I had my headlights on because it was sprinkling rain out. Well I drained the battery, and found myself flushed with adrenaline upon realizing the car wouldn’t start. I was far from the pavement, and surely no one was coming up here.
So I attempted to roll the truck down the dirt lot for the radio tower, which was a small hill, to try and pop the clutch. I did it wrong, so in order to try again, I pushed the truck back up the hill… Needless to say that took many hours and was ridiculous, I really should have used my brain more today. After failing to pop the clutch a second time it was getting to be dusk and raining. Now I became stressed and upset. I did what I should have done the first time, I decided to walk out to the road and ask for help.
Help came in the form of two kind young people in a truck, after flagging down a few who wouldn’t help, and I got a ride in the truck bed back up to the misty mountaintop. We jumped the battery and voila! I had power again. I thanked them profusely and tried to go back to relaxing, but I was high strung, and things were getting wet.
Darkness came. The rain worsened. It was unrelenting, it became a downpour. Hours passed where camped on that exposed summit I was deafened in the back of the truck by rain. It wouldn’t stop, It became like a hurricane. At some point I became worried about the viciousness of the rain, I should have left this peak earlier but now it was dark, completely foggy, and if that road was going to be flooded, muddy or washed out, now would be the worst time to go. So I’d sit and wait out the storm but unfortunately I was stressed.
It became possibly more rain than I’ve ever seen, it crashed down so loud I had a difficult time sleeping through it, it gave me horrible anxiety, all night long. It didn’t relent one bit throughout the night. I wasn’t sure if it was only so bad because I was camped on a mountain top or if it was like this everywhere. Finally lightning and thunder woke me up promptly at 5AM, being in such an exposed spot, this was my queue to leave! Perhaps I was somewhat frantic being awoken by the loud crash, but I opened the slider window to the truck too fast and it shattered of its own accord. This was the truck CAP window, not the cab fortunately, but still. Clearly this was a cursed spot.

So I stepped from the truck into many inches of water over my feet, loaded my soaked bike into the back, the mountain summit completely flooded in the predawn glow and misty downpour. The road was not washed out but it was a cascading mud waterfall, and the highway was no better. The entire island was flooded, when I drove passed the Millis Brook it was three times its normal size and roiling brown with broken trees and debris. Marshes overflowed onto the roadway, and great waterfalls poured off the cliffs directly down onto the Cabot Trail. Windshield wipers were going at full speed. Needless to say, my bed was covered in broken glass and my pillows were completely saturated wet…


There were many more impressive flood waterfalls like this, and raging brooks which I couldn’t get photos of

Anyway, I sit venting this to my keyboard in a Tim Hortons eating a bagel and trying to relax. But fortunately the rain has stopped! At least I got a good story out of it! Now I have to go out there, and clean the glass out of the back before I pass through customs. The moral of the story is, due to fearsome insects, extreme northern climate patterns, and various other reasons, Vagabonding Canada is not for the faint of heart!!!


3 thoughts on “Washed Away on Mt. Smoky

  1. Yeah, usually everything works out pretty good, but occasionally stuff goes wrong like that! All part of the adventure I guess :)


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