Cape Breton Highlands National Park Canada

The Importance of Water and Snacks When Hiking

We encountered many firsts on our Canadian camping adventure as a family of seven. Our daughter learned too late not to dunk her brand-new camera into the salt water while climbing on the rocks at Peggy’s Cove. This was our first trip where we enjoyed delicious fillets of fresh mackerel for dinner, caught by our son. My husband filleted them. The mosquitoes were terrible, and he hates to fillet fresh fish. Hence, we had tiny—but tasty—fillets. I coated them with crushed corn flakes, the only “coating” I could find in the camper cupboards.

But our big first was hiking the Mt. Franey Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We usually hike loop trails for a variety of scenery and positive proof that we end up in the same place after beginning, the parking lot where we parked the van. 

It’s kilometers in Canada, not miles. Like I’ve said before in my Camping with Five Kids blog posts, it’s very important to understand length and challenge levels before hiking a particular trail. We know this. You know this. But sometimes mistakes happen and you need to be prepared for them.

We misunderstood the Mt. Franey Trail. It was exhausting, with its steep climbs and switchbacks clinging to the wall of the valley. In our case, the sweeping climb came first, the sharper descents came last.

We learned only afterwards that it was 7.4 km [4.6 mi], a challenging black diamond trail.  It took us about six hours to hike this trail as we stopped frequently for snacks and drinks. 

Now this is the tip to remember when realizing that you are on a lengthy trail: stop often, and drink and snack often. Especially with children in tow. You should always hike with lots of water and nutritious, salt-replenishing snacks like nuts and pretzels. We love a challenge, but time length requires replenishment. For anyone.

At the close of the day after our long adventure, I attempted to congratulate the family from the comfort of our padded bunks.

“Cape Breton is called the highlands for a reason,” I started tentatively, remembering the sweeping views from the top.

The children were pretty much comatose after the hike. My husband turned his head, but I think that was all he could manage.

“Weren’t the mountain streams beautiful, tumbling from crevice to rock to plateau to pool?”

Not a sound in return from the crew. 

I turned my head slightly. Yep. They were all in the camper, draped like discarded clothing on their bunks and couches. I tried again.

“Remember how we stuck our feet into the crystal-clear stream? Gosh, it was icy-cold—even for July. But it was bathed in sunlight. You guys climbed on the boulders.” Because it was at the beginning of the hike, but I left that part out.

I listened closely. Good. They’re still breathing.

“The sun shimmered through the sugar maple leaves creating lace patterns on the moss when we hiked through the forest.”

Boy, you could tell I was tired; still a smile creased my lips at the images my mind created.

“Anyway,” I finished, “Dad and I are very proud of you.”

Finally, I received a response. Another first in our camping experience. A pelting of dirty, balled up socks. Lucky them, I thought. I didn’t have the energy to get my socks off.

Thanks for stopping by Camping with Five Kids. Have a beautiful spring!

4 thoughts on “Cape Breton Highlands National Park Canada”

    • Absolutely, they did, Alex. And so did I. We all were beyond exhausted. But I was so proud of them for finishing. I don’t know what we would have done if they became stubborn and wouldn’t go any farther. The Lord sure blessed us that day.

      It’s always a pleasure seeing you here at Camping with Five Kids. Have a beautiful week!


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