The summer of 2016 is going down in history as the summer of seeing new places around my beautiful island home of Cape Breton. And one of the places I discovered was a previously-unknown-to-me swimming hole in a little village called Marble Mountain. All along, I thought the only other Marble Mountain was in Western Newfoundland but after hearing that there was such a place in Cape Breton, you know I had to go check it out. I did a little research and saw the pictures of the clear, blue water and a beautiful beach surrounded by cliffs and mountainous terrain. I had no idea where such a place could exist in Cape Breton but I wasn't all that surprised to learn it was on the Bras d'Or Lakes and in an area that I've been meaning to explore for years and never really had the chance. That chance came in Mid-August when I made an impromptu decision to head out on a mini road trip in search of the elusive Cape Breton Marble Mountain.
With the help of Google Maps, I soon had a good idea where this Marble Mountain was located but copied down some directions from just in case. I drove for almost 2 hours all the way to Whycocomagh where I found the turn off to Orangedale where Marble Mountain was said to be located. As most of you probably know, google maps doesn't let users know when a detour is in place and you will be sent off onto a rugged, old gravel, pot-holed ridden road into the unknown. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to me...but not right away. I made the turn off and there was the blazing orange sign telling me that a detour was in place. Nowhere on this sign did it say where the detour would take me, how long I would be rerouted for, what the condition of the road was and whether it would lead me back on the right track. And to make matters worse, I had no cell coverage and there was no one around to ask. I wanted to go swimming so badly that day so I decided to go the other way towards Port Hood instead and try to get some beach time in there. Usually Port Hood is good for swimming and I figured if it wasn't, there was always West Mabou and Inverness beaches which were also nearby.
I arrived at Port Hood around noon and took a little drive around the village. I went down a road I've never gone down before and found another section of beach I never knew existed so I checked it out. It was too crowded for my liking but perhaps a nice spot to check out again in the future. The main section of beach where I usually go wasn't to my liking that day either; too rough, too much seaweed and too rocky.
West Mabou Beach was next...and unfortunately for me, not to my liking that day either. I set up on the beach and at least tried to go in the water but it was just too rough and too murky with seaweed and debris. I love swimming in the ocean as long as I can at least semi see the bottom. I like knowing what is around me by seeing it, not by feeling it brushing up against me!
I didn't bother to go to Inverness that day as it was getting late. I decided to chance the road to Marble Mountain as a last ditch attempt to get some swimming in before dark. The detour I had avoided earlier took me onto a gravel road that wasn't in the best of shape. I drove and drove forever, only waking from my semi-consciousness brought on by boredom when I hit a pothole that was so bad I thought I would have to call a tow truck. I figured a flat would be inevitable but thankfully that didn't happen. It seemed like I was driving for hours by the time I reached the main road again. And than it felt like I was driving on that road for hours too. It felt like I was driving for so long that I began to think I took a wrong turn somewhere and soon, I realized that I didn't know where I was.
I drove for so long and it was getting so late that I succumbed to the realization that I wasn't going to find Marble Mountain that day. I was headed in the direction of Eskasoni or St. Peter's so I figured I would eventually come out near one of those places and there would be signs telling me which way to take home. I was hooking up my iPod to the car stereo and settling in for a long drive home when I saw it; a green sign with the words "Marble Mountain" on it! I pulled into a look-off on the side of the road and got out to stretch my legs and have a look below. I could see the beach from this look-off. I knew it was the right beach because it looked exactly like it did in the pictures online. After driving up and down that strip of road looking for an entrance and stopping a woman in front of her house to ask for directions, I finally found the road that lead to the beach area. I paid the three dollars (a small price to pay to finally get to cool off in the clear waters of the Bras d'Or Lakes) parked the car, got changed in one of the changing rooms and walked down to the water. There was a family enjoying an evening dip so I didn't have to swim alone. The water was absolutely beautiful. Warm and crystal clear with no seaweed or jelly fish. It was a little rocky but not too bad. I just floated on my back as they last rays of the sun started to disappear behind the hills. The air might have been cooling off, but that water seemed to be getting warmer and I had some trouble forcing myself to head back to shore. When I did, it was almost dark.
The steep hill I had to come down to get to the beach area was much harder to get up than it was to get down. I got so far and my car started to struggle and than started to slide backwards! In an instant my foot instinctively hit the gas pedal and with some effort, I finally made it to the top. Instead of backtracking the way I came and going through that dreadful detour again, I turned left and kept heading to what I was pretty sure was the St. Peters area. When I reached the sign for Dundee, I knew I was on the right track. I never really gave Dundee a second thought when passing through in the past. It's always just been that place I drive through to get to St. Peter's when I go that way. But on this drive through Dundee, I really noticed the sheer beauty of the area. Stunning. I have no idea how I didn't even notice how beautiful that area is until that night. As I got to the edge of the village area, I noticed something on the side of the road that started to move and it took me a second to realize it was two deer. A doe and a young fawn still with spots on her coat. They slowly passed in front of my car and went into the woods. A few minutes later, I spotted another deer on the side of the road.
In St. Peter's, I got a coffee for the road and headed towards Sydney via Route 4. I only got as far as the turn off to Loch Lomond where a blockade was in place with a sign pointing me in the direction of Loch Lomond, another long, gravel road in the middle of nowhere. It seemed like I was driving forever on that back road. It must have been an hour before I reached the highway again but a significant amount of traveling had been cut off my trip as I came out near Big Pond. They say things happen in three's and that night, I witnessed a 3rd deer-crossing but this time, the deer was erratically running all over the place and I nearly hit it...right in front of my father's house on the South Bar Highway!