I had this feeling that we were being watched.
It was a beautiful, sunny day on the hiking trail in the forest, but there was also a kind of tension in the air. Electrical storm coming, or was this more of a human disturbance?
Then a loud SNAP. Now that was definitely a branch stepped on by someone or an animal. Do bears step on branches like that? I didnâ€™t think so. And definitely not a squirrel.
These were the thoughts running through my head as Chantal and I trudged through the beautiful wooded trail. Usually thereâ€™s only music going through my head, or nothing at all, but probably I was still freaking out mentally because of our dangerous adventures cycling in Germany.
Then we came upon the rocky cliffs, which we had to descend to get to our destination, the waterfalls. Actually there are a lot of waterfalls here, just like my hometown of Hamilton. Not surprising, since like Hamilton, Manitoulin Island is on the Niagara Escarpment. Of course, in Hamilton, if I was walking around the north-end, or even Parkdale at night, and had a creepy feelingâ€¦ wellâ€¦ I would get the hell outâ€¦ quick. But here? No boogeymen or tourists, just us, trying to get down into the valley over the big rocks.
And then, we made it. We could hear the falls burbling over the rocks at the base. Itâ€™s pressure propelling the scent of the forest towards us. Sometimes, the sound was a white noise, like a short-wave radio hunting for a frequency. But as we got closer, it became a roar and as we finally left the thick forest and came upon the plunge basin I could feel the fresh mist on my face.
There was someone else here. A couple were under the falls, in the undercut, holding hands and kissing. He was whispering something in her ear. She was smiling. I got a quick photo.
Later, back at the parking lot, we met the couple, and when I showed them the photo on the camera back, we realized that it was the exact same moment that he proposed marriage to her, and she said â€śyes!â€ť They asked me to send them a copy by email which they would use for their wedding album.
Our campsite was above a window through the trees to Mindemoya Lake, where we set up our tent and late in the afternoon enjoyed some wine. Hypnotized by the view of the lake from our perch, I started noticing small animals scurrying helter-skelter. There were squirrels, chipmunks and deer mice all in a panic â€“ looking for somewhere to hide. Birds were flocking in a frenzy. I thought that was strange, but quickly moved on to more wine and dinner. We finally hit the sleeping bags around 10:30.
I once camped right next to a busy railway, so I know what trains coming through in the middle of the night sound like when you’re in a tent. But we werenâ€™t anywhere close to a railway.
THEN WHY WAS I HEARING A TRAIN COMING THROUGH ?
I woke and opened my eyes. The tent was being pushed down to about 6 inches from my face. There was a terrible freight train roar. I looked at my watch â€“ midnight. Chantal screamed, â€śWhatâ€™s going on?â€ť
Water was coming in. I yelled, â€śGrab what you need and letâ€™s get to the car. Thereâ€™s a tornado!â€ť
We got into the car, where we spent the rest of the night not sleeping – just shaking. Turns out that it wasnâ€™t a train or a tornado, but a really bad storm. The heavy wind was roaring straight through our beautiful window to the lake. The tent was destroyed, but we were able to rent a trailer for the rest of our stay.
The name “Manitoulin” comes from the Ojibwe word meaning “cave of the spirit”. I believe that the wind spirit visited us that night not through a cave, but through the window to the lake.
[Click on any photo for the slideshow. Please leave comments at the bottom of the page]
June 12, 2021 at 2:32 pm
As usual, great photos and an interesting read, Len. The landscape shots are beautiful.
June 12, 2021 at 2:42 pm
Yes, beautiful country!
June 12, 2021 at 3:05 pm
what an adventure! I especially loved the story and photo of the newly engaged couple. Perfect timing!
June 12, 2021 at 4:01 pm
Yes, it was amazing when we saw them in the parking lot.
June 14, 2021 at 1:35 pm
Len, once again great photos. Manitoulin is fantastic cycling and we will return this July to the area with a group of friends to cycle home to Burlington. For several years we did the organized June weekend ride. Great for retirees as you can go on Friday and return Monday on the ferry. Price for ferry is included in the registration fee.
June 14, 2021 at 9:12 pm
That sounds like a good workout ride Daphne. But I know you like it extreme. Have a great trip in July.
June 14, 2021 at 2:13 pm
Thereâ€™s a lot of sky in these pictures- should there be skyscrapers in the way?
Iâ€™m concerned that you seem to be leading Chantal into a chasm prior to standing on a steer promatory- should we be worried for your mental sanctity?
Great capture of the proposal photo – I bet theyâ€™ll treasure that.
And stop playing with the poisonous snakes!
June 14, 2021 at 9:14 pm
No skyscrapers on Manitoulin, and no poisonous snakes, and yes, some great cliffs.
June 14, 2021 at 2:53 pm
Great story, Len. And I’m glad to see you’re back in the world of colour.
June 14, 2021 at 9:16 pm
Bern, whether is B&W or colour depends on a lot of things, but for me, outdoors often calls for colour.
June 16, 2021 at 6:13 pm
Manitoulin June 10, 2021
They say that nothing happens by accident. Taking that photo at the exact time of a proposal under the falls was one of those moments. Now it is recorded for posterity. The young couple will cherish that picture forever. It was a God moment.
Glad to hear that you and Chantal got out of town during this pandemic. You were better off for it.
Don & Jean
June 16, 2021 at 10:37 pm
Don, you are so right about catching that moment. I’ll never forget it either. BTW, you’re wrong about us being there now. This actually happened in 2010. But you are correct in that we are now camping at Niagara Falls this week, as I write this reply. But now we’re wind-proof in a camping van. I haven’t met Jean, but I hope you both are very well.