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Saturday, 10 October 2015

Manitoulin Island - and the Cup and Saucer Trail

Manitoulin Island - and the Cup and Saucer Trail 

Elliot Lake is aflame right now, with the fall colours at their peak. A little late this year, they are still splendid and the view from our balcony fills our hearts with gratitude for where we live. 

For the last couple of years, the Cup and Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island has been recommended to us - and we've attempted to go there with various friends, but each time we planned the trip, something occurred to prevent it from happening. Today, however - with the possibility of seeing a panorama of colour - we were finally able to cross it off our bucket list! 

The climb was worth it!
The Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail is a trek that should not be missed if you ever get the chance to visit Manitoulin Island. You get to see an amazing view of the island from the top of 70 metre high cliffs, which make up part of the Niagara Escarpment. One brochure describes it as 'an intermediate to advanced hiking trail, but the scramble up to the top is well worth it' - a description with which we wholeheartedly agree!! 

We love this time of year when, the ground under the canopy of trees is covered with the fallen leaves that create a carpet, lighting up the forest floor as the sun breaks through. It's truly magnificent.

Someone once said, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away". This was certainly our experience, today, as each new vista presented itself with even greater glory as we proceeded along the path on the edge of the various cliff faces. 

We sat on rocks that jutted out above the valley below to eat our picnic lunch, taking in the sheer beauty of what was displayed before us.  

Too many pictures were taken on this trail to be added to this blog, so we've created a slide show for those of you who may be interested to see all of them. Here's the link: Cup & Saucer Slide Show. 

After we had completed the trail, we headed for one of our favourite spots on the island - Kagawong. Two years ago, when my sister and her husband visited us, we took them to the Bridal Veil Falls where we watched the salmon reaching the head of the river to spawn and die.

Salmon at the head of their spawning ground
We thought we were too late, this year but - lo and behold - there they were! Huge specimens reaching the end of their lives after mysteriously returning to their spawning grounds, they thrashed around continually until they gasped their last breath and their gills became motionless. It was fascinating to watch the cycle of life being played out in full view - and to know that other animals (bears, racoons, and wolves etc.) would complete the recycling once all of the humans had retreated.

Apart from the Falls, Kagawong's magnetism pulls us back each year, and we took a quick tour of the small town, once again, before moving on to the village of Sheguiandah, where we had seen a fish ladder in the spring. 

Ready for Halloween

Fish Ladder 

We had made a note in our calendar to visit at the end of September to see the salmon leaping. Once again, we thought we had missed it this year, but to our glee, they were still making their way upstream to their spawning grounds on this side of the island. However, the water level was much lower than normal (a phenomenon we have noticed elsewhere this year) and they were unable to reach the ladder, staying in the lower part of the river, just below a footbridge. 

Finally, before returning home, we took a quick detour to another favourite place on the mainland, just south of Espanola. The little hamlet of Willisville affords a view across to the La Cloche Mountains and is worth the short trip up the steep hill road. 

When we first moved up to Northern Ontario, just over two years ago, a friend remarked that there is 'nothing up there except rocks, lakes, and trees'. Our response was unhesitating and immediate... 'YAH!!!'  

We continue to feel that 'YAH' each time we visit Manitoulin, and each time we return home after exploring our great Northern heritage. 

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