Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Made it to the Manitoulin Islands!

So I made it all the way to the Manitoulin Islands. I'm typing this from a community college in Little Current on the North side of the Island, and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to share with you how I made it here.

Me in Little Current on the Manitoulin Islands

So, last time I wrote a post I was in Kincardine, where I stayed for two nights to avoid some bad weather.
The next day I set out and walked out of town in search of highway 21 which could take me further north, where I would have to refind highway 6 to take me all the way up to Tobermory.
Tobermory is the most northern point on the Bruce Peninsula, and the place from where the ferry to the islands departs.

After I found highway 21 I set myself up at the side of the road near an intersection with stoplights.
This would give drivers enough time to have a good look at me and see what a trustworthy fellow I am! ;-)
It didn't take very long before somebody pulled over. This someone turned out to be Derek, an older man with retirement that would go to Port Elgin later on in the day, but for now could take me as far as Tiverton, a little further on down the road. There he would turn off left to go home for a bit and get his wife and RV to make the trip to Port Elgin.
So he dropped me off at a T-section in town and drove off, promising me that if I was still looking for a ride by the time he came back he would pick me up again. I walked into town and decided to take my time, so I found a place to buy a coke and sat down in a nearby park to enjoy it.
There I got to talking with a local woman who was taking care of the park by planting flowers and pulling out weeds as a volunteer. I had a nice chat with her. After a while she was done and headed home though, so I picked up my pack again and walked a little further to stand by the highway again.
After 5 minutes Derek was back and pulled over in his RV! I introduced myself to his wife Sheila, and we drove off to Port Elgin where they dropped me off at a gas station. I took my pack out of the back and walked back onto the highway, now trying to get to Alvanley or Owen Sound, either of which would take me onto a good road.

It was a bit of a walk out of town from that gas station. I put down my pack again and stuck out my thumb. After a short wait I got picked up by Eric, a guy around my own age. When he found out that I was from Holland he got very excited and interested in me. He only took me about 8 km's farther down the road though so we didnt get to talk very much. When he dropped me off I was on the northern side of Southampton. There I sat down for a while to write some notes before sticking out my thumb once more.
Another short wait before I found myself in the car of Bob, a man who was 77 years of age! He was a very talkative man but I had to listen carefully considering he didnt talk all that loud. He had been in the army for 20 years and was a veteran of the Korean conflict and also did a tour in Egypt. After that he worked as a bouncer for a nightclub as well as at a local hydroplant. One of his biggest hobbies used to be skydiving. I don't think he had much to fear from me even at his old age. In his own words, he'd rather go out with a bang. So I suppose that even if I had turned out to be a serial killer with an axe it would have been all good haha. He dropped me off at highway #6 somewhere outside of Owen Sound.

From there I walked to the right side of the road and found another good place to hitch a ride from.
After about 20 minutes a second Derek stopped for me. He turned out to be a native American and he was very proud of this fact. He was a soft-spoken man with an appreciation for the simple things in life. He didn't want a big fancy car or a big fancy house, as long as the things he needed to have functioned well. A mindset that I can really appreciate. He dropped me off some 2 kilometers past Wiarton, to where the road split in two. Here followed about an hour of waiting with some very suspicious people eyeballing me from within their car, untill Jack came to my rescue.

Jack was a guy somewhere in his late twenties I think. He turned out to be a kayakker that competed internationally and did a lot of other extreme endurence sports as well. We had quite the talk about these things because I have some experience with these things too, though nowhere near his level.
Now this is what makes hitch-hiking great: after a pretty long drive (and having found out that I had missed the ferry in Tobermory for the day) he suggested to take me along to his families cottage in the vicinity for a while. Afterwards he could drop me off at a local campsite near Lake Cyprus.
This sounded like a great deal and so I took him up on the offer. So I found myself on a small landtongue surrounded by water in a beautiful and spacious cottage, where I met Jack's parents.
Jack's father it turned out, was Dutch by origin. He had moved to Canada when he was about six years old. After sitting for a little bit Jack asked me if I wanted to go for a short canoe trip, to which I ofcourse said yes. If you are on the road you should let no opportunity slide!
So we went out onto the incredibly clear water and paddled around for a bit while Jack told me some interesting things about the area. The bay we were in, for instance, was formed by an ancient glacier during the ice age, which had carved out the area as it slid past. Every year the land still continues to rise a little bit further like an ancient sponge that had been compressed under the weight of the glacier.
When we got back I was informed of the families plans to raise a stone at the road that was the entrance to their domain, on which they wished to engrave the name of the cottage. To do this they had wanted to build a tripod from which they could hoist a big rock into a vertical position. And so I found myself building a tripod! How strange the days of a hitch-hiker can be!

Me, Jack and his father at the tripod!

Unfortunately I didn't get to see if the plan actually worked or not as Jack had to move on almost right away. So I got back into the car and we drove off. I hope they manage to get their rock into position and their plan works!
We drove to the Lake Cyprus Campsite where it turned out that the office had already closed and would be closed the next day as well, and so I could stay on the campgrounds for free that night!
Such news is always excellent. Jack helped me find a suitable place near the lake itself and told me about a Grotto nearby: a set of caves excavated from the cliffs that looked out over Georgian Bay, with a white-pebbled beach between them. After we said goodbye he drove off and I hurried to set up my tent. I put on my swimming shorts and headed out to the lake to take a dive after a long hot day.
The water remained really clear even though I headed out into the lake quite far.

Lake Cyprus from behind the treeline

Another shot of Lake Cyprus
This was taken later on in the evening

After I had been swimming for a bit I decided to skip dinner and find the Grotto instead. It was supposed to be a 1,5 mile walk, so I put my hiking boots back on and set out. And man, am I glad I did!
When I found the road leading down to the Grotto bay the sun was already setting and was casting a brilliant orange light through the tree tops. As I stepped out of the woods and onto the cliff overlooking the pebbled beach my jaw literally dropped. My heart started racing. This was beauty like I can't recall ever having seen before. And I had it all to myself as well. There was nobody around. The best way is to just show you. I could not resist taking a swim here. It was too perfect not to.

This is from the right of the beach looking left

From the centre

This is to the right of the beach looking right
This was taken from the left of the bay
Gotta love the countdown function on the HD Hero 2

I had figured I would leave early the next day so I could catch the last ferry out of Tobermory at around 1:30, but having seen this beach I just could not resist coming back for a second time.
So the following day I returned, intent on diving in again and this time explore the cliffs to either side of the beach to find the actual caves that were said to be around here.

This was taken the next day. Just look at how clear this water is!

The bay by daylight
And I found several of them.
The most obvious one was right in sight from the beach, off to the left. Swimming around the bend on the left side revealed another small hamlet, this one having an even larger cave with it's own little pool. And the best feature: this pool had a passage that ran underneath the cliffs to the other side, where you could resurface in sight of the beach! If you look down in the pool you can see the light shining down from the other side of the cliffs. Off to the right side of the beach was another cave that was half-submerged but had a ledge I could climb up on. It seemed to be home to a pair of Robin-birds who flew in and out of the cave excitedly during my stay in it.

This cave can be seen from the beach, but this was taken from behind it

This was the cave around the bend, left of the beach. This one had the pool on the inside.

The cliffs were very climbable too, and though it is forbidden to jump off of them I couldn't resist doing just that on various occasions. The water was clear enough to see where I was landing and I had complete confidence in myself not to hurt myself, and so I not only swam past the bottom of the cliffs, I also explored the cliffs themselves and found some great jumping spots. Not all of them were high but man, were they exciting!

UPdate: the video's have been uploaded and can be found here:
The best part is that I have made video's of my explorations along the Grotto cliffs! But unfortunately they are too big to upload from a library or internet cafe, and there is no way for me to upload them right now. I might have to buy a small notebook or laptop if possible and if it's not too expensive, and I'll have to dedicate a post to those video's because they turned out quite nice. Thank god for the waterproof case!
When I had swum around for the better part of the morning I put my boots back on (which I had hidden beneath a pile of white rocks in a cavity along the cliff) and walked back to camp. I learned that it was only 14:00, and so I decided to try my luck on the road and see if I could make it to Tobermory that day so I knew for sure I wouldn't miss the ferry the next day. So I packed up my tent and started walking back to the highway which lay about 8 km's from the campgrounds. Fortunately I got a ride almost immediately outside of the campground gates from Scott and his wife who's name has unfortunately slipped my mind right now... Sorry about that! They took me all the way to Tobermory, where I settled into the same motel as them.
The next day I spent a few moments in the local library after I did my laundry, and I got onto the ferry in the afternoon.
It's called the Chi-Cheemaun, which in the native tongue means 'Big Canoe'! And it certainly is haha.

And yes, that's a group of Amish!

Me on deck. It was quite chilly out!

When the ship arrived at South Baymouth I tried looking for a motel, but both of them were ridiculously expensive. So I opted out of those and started looking for the road out of there.
I walked down it for a while and encountered another campsite but decided not to take it, in order to make the most of the day. It still wasn't all that late. So I continued hiking down the road untill I got picked up by George who was on his way to Little Current. I decided to go along all the way there instead of going to an Indian reserve more to the east, figuring it was a better place to start. There are several other Indian reserves on this island, and I'm not planning on leaving untill I've seen at least one of them. I got a motel in town for the night, and will get out of here later today to find Sucker Creek, where I will meet George again tomorrow, to visit a fish farm some distance away from the island. It's only half an hour or an hour's walk out of town so I made a lazy day of it so far. And ofcourse it gives me a nice opportunity to update the blog! I hope you guys enjoy it. I sure am :-)


  1. I'm glad your having a good experience in Canada. :)

  2. Wow! Great story :) I am glad that you enjoyed the grotto and the caves. The stone is now in place - ready for sandblasting!
    When you get your video uploaded be sure to send the link - maybe we can help you share your experience far and wide!


  3. Good to hear the stone is up! Did it take a lot of effort to raise it? And I'll be sure to send a link if I manage to upload some video's in the near future. I might have to find a small laptop or something like that first though! Then I might be able to upload a video from a motel or something, and just leave it running through the night. Thanks for the comment!