Driving from Owen Sound to Tobermory was a bit bizarre. It was the Monday of the Labour Day weekend and streams of cars were going in the opposite direction as we pushed north. The last long weekend of summer was over; everyone was heading home. While we were looking forward to the quiet, as we drove we talked about how it was just a little sad to miss the hustle and bustle of the busy summer months.
Once we pulled off Highway 6 and onto the short stretch of road into Bruce Peninsula National Park, we found that the park was still very much alive. The majority of campsites were occupied and filled with hiking enthusiasts. At the time we arrived it was probably hovering around 16°C (61°F) and raining. We quickly made dinner, stuffed our wood under the car and climbed into bed. We were quite cozy and content to listen to the rain softly patter on the roof as we drifted into sleep.
The very next morning we had scuba diving at Diver’s Den. Both of us were full of anticipation when we walked into the store and met Mike, who would be our instructor for the day. After spending about an hour learning the basics on dry land and trying on our wet suits it was clear to us why Diver’s Den has the reputation it does – Mike was knowledgeable, patient, and funny. Lucky for us, because of the summer being over we had him all to ourselves. We loaded our things into his truck and drove a quick minute to where we would be diving for the morning. It was turning out to be a warm, beautiful day in the harbour town. Mike proceeded to go over the basics in shallow water before leading us to the first wreck. As we descended I began to have equalization problems in my ear. I ended up bursting some blood cells (unbeknownst to me) and bleeding from my nose into my mask – something that is quite common for a first time diver. It was mildly uncomfortable for a few moments and as I continually attempted to clear my ears I felt it finally give. I was fine. We continued on to three more wrecks – one that had still had moving parts! We saw marine life and threw old pieces of wood to each other below the waves. It was absolutely surreal spending an hour 30 feet under the surface. With wetsuits, the chilly 17°C (63°F) Georgian Bay waters even felt warm. As we came up at the end of the tour we all were laughing and talking about the experience – one we won’t soon forget.
We decided to eat lunch in Tobermory before extending our stay in Bruce Peninsula. We just had so much hiking we wanted to do, leaving the next day felt like a rush considering we still needed to get groceries. Changing our Chi-Cheemaun booking was simple, as was getting another site for the extra night in the park. Since it was getting late we started out with a quick jaunt around one edge of Cyprus Lake before heading on the Marr Lake Trail for Boulder Beach. This trail eventually connects with the Bruce and we took it to where the Georgian Bay Trail met it, getting to see the Grotto and Indian Head Cove. We vowed to come back the next day to swim inside the Grotto and push north along the Bruce. That night we enjoyed a campfire and woke up to a raccoon climbing up our car as it walked through the campsite. I punched the roof and it scarpered off quick enough, leaving only muddy prints behind.
The next day was another beautiful one. With temperatures peaking around 27°C (81°F) in the sun, we set out with our lunch packed. Achieving what we had not the day before, we hiked towards Tobermory after enjoying a swim in the Grotto and our picnic lunch. We decided to stop and turn around at a second boulder beach we found, but not before doing some postcard writing, swimming, building an inuksuk and enjoying the day. On the way back we were even treated (depends on how you see it) to observing a gardner snake eat (more swallow) a small frog. We highly recommend this hike north of the first boulder beach. The vistas you see are spectacular.
While we were both quite sad to leave the peninsula and our campsite behind, we boarded the Chi-Cheemaun excitedly.
Manitoulin Island held a little mystery for the both of us.