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.
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