Note: this post continues from ‘Camping at Bruce Peninsula – Day 1 Surprises’.
It’s not everyday you would get woken up by a flight light and so when that did happen, it took me a couple of seconds to realize where I was. Closing in on 6am, someone had to turn on the flight light to take care of the catchment in our tarp. However, that one minute task ended up keeping everyone up for the rest of the day. Not sure as to whether it would rain or not that day, we were in a hurry to figure out how to get some sunrise pictures and explore the grotto (well mainly jump off the mini ledge in the grotto while there was still no one there). However, by the time we got to the grotto (it’s about a 30 minute walk), the sun was already up.
Adventures at the Grotto
Upon reaching the grotto, a few of us decided to swim from the beach area to the grotto while the rest of us decided to hike down to the grotto (as we had all the dry clothing). The hike down was more like a climb down. though not too hard with the rock layout, we were a little more cautious as we knew that some parts were still wet and so grip would be minimal. After reaching the mouth of the cave, we dropped all the things we were carrying and dipped our feet into the water. If there was any sort of drowsiness left in us, it quickly disappeared as the jolt of cold ran up our backs. However, we decided that the best way to really submerge ourselves in that cold is to just jump right into it, and what better way than to jump the 3 meter or so cliff that hugged the inside of the cave. Even though this was a good 6 meters shorter than the cliff in Hong Hong, that feeling of uncertainty still made me hesitate. However, thanks to the countdown that we decided to do, and the mentality of stepping (in the case, jumping) out of my comfort zone, I was surrounded with the icy water in under a second.
The Grotto – this is not my own picture as I didn’t bring my camera on this journey (don’t know why)
The only picture I can find that shows where you can jump within the cave.
After making another jump, I decided to put the snorkels and fin I bought into use and use it to swim through the hole in the grotto. Haven’t snorkeled since learning to scuba dive in Bali, I thought I did pretty well. The underwater passageway is probably around 10 meters in length and do-able without any equipment. The view itself was pretty awesome as the hole was really big and so it was neat to actually look around and see yourself surrounded by rocks. However, for those who do plan on doing it, make sure you are a decent swimmer and take in consideration of the water temperature. Even with a mask that allowed me to see comfortably and a set of fins, I still felt that my breath was barely enough to get me to the outside and it was even harder swimming back in. This was most likely due to the cold water contracting my muscles. Speaking about swimming back into the cave, you should know that you won’t be able to see the “end of the tunnel” as the cave itself is pretty dim. If you are even slightly uncomfortable, swim around back to the mouth of the cave.
The underwater hole in the cave. Note that this is pretty much right where people would be jumping off the ledge so have a friend warn others when they see you coming back in.
Once swimming back to the inside, I was shivering for a good thirty minutes – a pretty good indicator that I was pretty much done with the grotto. We wrapped up shortly after as everyone else was in similar positions.
Setting up Camp at Stormhaven
Stormhaven, located 5km away from the parking lot, was a lot more fun getting to and a lot more to what I was expecting. Following paint signs on trees to find our way there, the hike took about two hours (we got lost for a good 30 minutes) through the forest.
Prior to leaving, we were unsure whether we’d be able to go through another day without a frame. After all, we were saved because of the layout of the trees. There was no guarantee as to how we’d pull it off this time. Also, we didn’t want to carry everything only to find out that it wouldn’t be possible and hence have to go back with everything. However, somehow it went from bringing a tent and one additional backpack to 4 backpacks with 4 people. One of us decided to get some more sleep in the car. An hour in, we knew that this was a terrible idea. The original idea was somehow lost and even if this worked, two people would have to go back to get the fifth. Upon further discussion, if it were to rain later in the day, we had to create contingency plans for the two who would walk back (assuming that the tent worked out)
Upon reaching Stormhaven, we were skeptical as to whether the tent would work. Having a wooden platform at the campsite, the trees were a lot further this time around. However, not want to call it quits to quickly, we started looking at the rock beach to see if we could somehow leverage the height and rocks. However, being right next to the lake was probably not a good idea as it would’ve gotten really cold. However, now knowing that the crew didn’t want to go back empty handed, and not knowing when it’d get too dark for them to walk to the car and back, we quickly decided to empty out everything that we didn’t need into two backpacks so we wouldn’t have so many things to bring back the next day. Also, since we made something work the day before, I knew that we could make something work again and so we parted ways. Two went back to the car while M and I stayed back to figure out the tent.
Unfortunately, the tent doesn’t have much of a story this time around. With practical experience the first time, we knew what needed to happen and it didn’t take long for us to make it happen. In fact, this tent (that took less than an hour) looked a lot better than the first and was also a lot sturdier.
With only one of the three people coming back (one of them got injured so they decided to stay in the car), the rest of the day and night were spent in the tent just snacking and at the beach area for sunset and star gazing. There isn’t much to say about sunset, but we decide to get comfortable with star gazing. As there were many large rocks around the beach area, we brought our sleeping bags with us and just laid down looking upwards. With no clouds in the way, our whole vision was just literally full of stars. Laying there for an hour, our biggest difficulty was figuring out whether we saw shooting stars or if it was just our imagination.
The view of sunset from Stormhaven
When we got back in the tent, there was a hole about 30cm in diameter. The hole was created from the zipper for the door being moved apart and when we went into the tent, the only things that were missing was the oreos. Lesson here is always have your food in a sealed up bag so the smell doesn’t escape and attract wild animals. As for what animal it was, I have no idea as the tent was already empty by the time we got back. I just hope the animal didnt have a heart attack eating a whole box of oreos.
The next day was suppose to start at 530 but we somehow fell back asleep until 615. Not knowing if we missed sunrise already, we jolted back to the beach area and luckily for us, it was just about to begin.
Stormhaven – Sunrise
Attempt at jumping
Stormhaven – Sunrise
Day at Tobermory
After regrouping with the others at the car, we headed off to Tobermory – the goal: to eat the fish and chips (been told it was really good) and to do some kayaking (goal of a friend). The fish and chips were alright (well the friend who went to UK for a study exchange said they were shit) and kayaking was kind of fun. Being most people’s first time, we did pretty well. Though there wasn’t much to see most of the time, we kayaked to a shipwreck area that had 3 boats and another area that had 4. However, the weather conditions made it kind of difficult to see most of the ships.
After surviving 2 nights of a frameless tent and the many other exciting challenges, the trip came to a close. Although this was not exactly the first camping experience I was expecting, I think it was a hell lot more interesting and now I can’t wait to continue camping in the future.