The 950 square kilometer (590 sq mi) Cape Breton Highlands National Park with its spectacular highlands and ocean scenery is located on Cape Breton Island, on the northeast tip of Nova Scotia, Canada. The world-famous scenic highway, the Cabot Trail, runs through the park.
The event was part of the park’s First Annual Geocaching Weekend, of which the highlight was the introduction of the park’s new Geocache series, the ‘EcoCache Geocache Challenge’, and the release of the cache coordinates.
The Ecocache Geocache Challenge is a five part series of Geocaches that the park developed with the help and support of the Atlantic Canada Geocaching Association to introduce people to our natural and cultural heritage.
Each of the caches takes you to a different trail within the park and in order to complete all five Geocaches you will hike between 17 to 21 kms and drive from Chéticamp to Ingonish. Total time for this series of Geocaches will be 6-9 hours. (They do not have to all done in one day! 🙂 )
When you complete all five of the caches, you receive a limited edition Parks Canada Geocoin.
The Cape Breton Highlands Park Event began on Friday night in one of the huts at the Chéticamp Campground with Highlands Park staff member, and facilitator of their Geocaching program, Angelina Payne giving us a warm welcome. She then gave an introduction to the park, the park’s Geocaching program and this weekend’s special event.
From there we took a short walk to the theatre area of the park’s Visitor Center for a Geocaching Workshop presentation by ACGA member ‘stagunner‘. The workshop, centered around a Power Point presentation, was designed to introduce the newcomer to the sport of Geocaching and we’re sure that even the experienced cacher picked up a tip or two!
And this was followed by a Wilderness Safety Workshop with Tom Wilson of Hike the Highlands Festival who gave a great overview of trail safety precautions and proper hiking gear.
At this point it was almost time to retire as tomorrow’s hikes required an early start. However, most of us made a beeline for the 3 Geeks Outdoor Store mobile division to satisfy our swag needs. 🙂
The following morning we all met, about 30 of us, at the Visitor Center bright and early for the 8am release of the EcoCache Geocache Challenge co-ordinates.
We each received a ‘passport’, called a “Cacheport”, to log the caches. Each Geocache contains a log book, an information card about the area and a unique punch that you must use to punch your Cacheport when you find the cache. There are also questions pertaining to the particular trail or area that must be also answered correctly in order to claim the Geocoins.
These are special caches, specifically for the EcoCache Geocache Challenge. As per the
Parks Canada Geocaching policy: Trade items are not permitted in these caches.
After a brief update on today’s festivities and ‘good lucks’ given all around we were off!
L’Acadien Trail – GC1V4CD
The first trail that we went to was L’Acadien. This is an 8.4km (5.2mi) loop trail that rises from 20 to 365m (65-1200ft) and offers panoramic views of the Highland plateau, the river canyon and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
We took the ‘right-hand’ trail up as opposed to the recommended ‘left-hand’ trail (just the rebels we are 🙂 ) which took us through a steep valley and crisscrossed a brook.
Birch tree stands grow on the mountain side as far as the eye can see:
There was a lot of moose droppings along the trail:
Was this the remains of a predator from long ago?:
The trail crisscrosses the brook several times, so many times that we started to sing the Eagles “Seven Bridges Road” 🙂 :
Here we are at the top of the world:
Here are some cacher buddies that we met at the summit:
Here are some views from the top:
The trail down was a whole lot easier, even grass covered in places!
It took us about 3 hours to complete this trail and it would be the longest, and most arduous, trail of the day. It was an excellent hike and the views at the top, especially of the
Grande Falaise, made it worth it!
From here it was on to the next one…