Nova Scotia Week, An Exceptional Day on the Eastern Shores of Cape Breton

My perfect day starts with hiking shoes and ends with a pair of water shoes. Yesterday morning began with a hike on Middle Head, a sliver of a peninsula jutting out into the sea. Even if you’re not staying at the Keltic Lodge, where the trailhead is located, take this hour-long round-trip hike, part of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Across the waters to your right are the towering bluffs of Cape Stormy, an apt name for this ominous spit of land. Perched atop your own headland, the cliffs of Middle Head plunge straight down to a boulder-strewn coastline. Waves crash against the rocks, spewing foam into the air. As I reached the tip of the peninsula, where numerous signs were posted warning folks to avoid getting too close to the edge, a bald eagle flew overhead. 

In the afternoon, I sea kayaked with Mary-Claire, a guide from North River Kayak Tours. We paddled on the North River past cormorants standing atop the wooden posts of a long retired wharf. The river leads to the wide-open waters of St. Ann’s Bay, surrounded by short summits on all sides. We stopped at a rocky beach for a snack of banana bread and chocolate chai, and then wandered over to see a waterfall. On the return paddle, we spotted a kingfisher and what I thought was a blue heron in flight. As it flew over our heads, we realized that this massive bird was no heron, but a peregrine falcon. Let me revise that lead sentence. My perfect day starts with a bald eagle and ends with a peregrine falcon.