You must be wondering did you REALLY hike with your cat for 15 km or 10 miles?! How could your cat walk in such a long journey and stay on trail? As a matter of fact, YES, I DID! It was one of the most memorable and successful adventure I have ever gone with my cat Archer!
This adventure has the most challenging quests which consisted of A) 5 hour car ride, B) 2 overnight stays in an unfamiliar room, and C) a mighty 15 km/10 miles of treading on an unpaved trail. The best part was, Archer conquered all of them like a true champion!
It was a lovely day in the beginning of autumn, the weather was sunny and the temperature was mild. We had already packed our essentials the night before, and left it at our doorstep. At 6AM, the alarm rang, I immediately woke up and jumped out of bed. Usually, I wouldn’t be fond of being woken up at such an early hour of the day, and would probably snooze the alarm a few times. BUT today was a different day, it was the day I get to visit the beautiful Tobermory with my cat, Archer, and cat dad Tony. What better way to spend an extended weekend than being with my favourite people in the world?!
Once we got ready for departure, I put on Archer’s favourite harness and ensured he had all the essentials for the trip. For example, backpack, food, and thin layers of clothing. I was worried whether Archer would do well in a new environment after such a long car ride, but I was still excited to bring him along. We all got into the car and after doing a mental check of all the items we should bring … zoom zoom, off we go! We were ready for an adventure!
The drive from Toronto to Tobermory was a grand 300 km/187 miles. To my surprise, Archer was quite patient during the first half of the trip. He would alternate his seating between the middle console and on top of his backpack in the back seat. Then, he would seldomly come to my passenger seat, and peak out the front window.
Phew, this is going to be a breeze, I thought, this cat has finally figured out how to be in a car ride! As soon as I thought Archer has conquered the task of car rides, I started hearing this loud meow in the back. He sounded impatient, excruciating, and hopeless, almost as if he felt he was trapped inside a capsule eternally.
Based on my previous experience with Archer, I immediately knew we had to take a small break, let him out to explore and stretch his legs. We pulled over at a quiet road beside a beautiful crop field, and he jumped out of the car with his tail perking up! Okay, that’s right! He definitely needed a break. He happily sniffed around the plants nearby, and was not even bothered by the cars that were sporadically passing by.
Looking passed the crop field, to our amazement, there were some incredible windmills spinning. The scenery looked like a beautiful painting waiting to be discovered. If it wasn’t for Archer, we wouldn’t even have noticed this beautiful empty crop field, and how the windmills filled the void of the land. Our cats can often make us appreciate the things we tend to miss when we are just living life too fast!
Along the trip, Archer went to potty inside the litter box that we brought with us. It was so helpful to have a counter measure for any uncontrollable anxiety which may cause him to poop or pee.
As we have never stayed overnight at a place that was not with family, I was quite worried about not being able to find an accommodation that is cat-friendly. Luckily, I browsed through the app and found an inn at the most convenient place. The AirBnB host initially indicated no pets were allowed, but I still took the chance to reach out and asked if they were comfortable with having a cat in the room. Surprisingly, I received a positive response from the owner! Cats are allowed as long as they do not make noises or damage any furniture.
When we reached our accommodation and checked into the room, Archer’s curiosity started to come out. He immediately started to investigate every corner of the space, and explore the room’s layout.
That night Archer was an energetic super cat … I don’t blame him! He was cramped up inside a car for 5 hours, and cats are naturally nocturnal animals which tend to “hunt” at night. The sad part for me was that, he constantly and joyfully jumped up and down the bed trying to find things to play with. In hindsight, I wished I had brought more toys with us to ensure he was entertained at night while we are sleeping. I had thought that Archer would be tired during the day, but who knew he had enough energy to continue playing at night?!
Since we have overcame the drive and finally arrived at our comfortable lodge, now onto the greatest challenge of our trip - the hike to The Grotto!
Days before the trip, we tried to pack as lightly as possible knowing that it would be a long hike. We had our cat backpack, camera and some light clothes. But silly me! I had totally forgot to bring Archer's cat food for the hike. Luckily, we did bring some delicious chicken fillets which was a good source of food for Archer at the time.
The entire hike in the Bruce Peninsula Provincial Park took us a total of 10 hours including some photo shoot sessions. The trail was not paved, and it was easy to get lost because the correct path was hard to find. As a hiker, I was quite concerned of the slippery paths, but for Archer, he was such a happy camper who insisted on walking by himself on a leash. I don’t blame him! Who would want to miss out on such a fascinating and adventurous journey?!
Along the way, we have met many families and dogs who reacted to Archer with astonishment, as he was the only cat they have ever seen on such a difficult trail. One of the hikers even joked and said that Archer would be the first cat to ever reach The Grotto from this hike. I’d like to believe so, unless proven otherwise!
We had such a determination to get to our destination, and our mind was strong and focused! Although there were perky tree branches, slippery rocks, or uneven paths, we enjoyed the white marbly pebbles and the delightful sceneries along the way.
After hours of marching forward, we finally got to The Grotto!! There were other hikers who were excited to see Archer; some even wanted to take a photo with him to commemorate the moment they saw a cat at The Grotto. Ha this must be what a superstar feels like! At least, Archer is the one who was getting all the attention! We took some beautiful photos at the scenery. As I stood on top of the rocks, looking down on the beautiful turquoise lake, I had the revelation of how small and insignificant we are as a person! If only we can remember to take a deep breath, a step back, and stop thinking about reality.
On the way back, Archer was already feeling fatigue; but as stubborn as he is, he still insisted on walking on his own. However, the sun was starting to come down, and we needed to pick up our pace, so we had to make sure he stays inside the backpack the entire hike back. With the backpack rocking him up and down, he eventually took a long quiet nap … Zzz
Our trip to Tobermory was definitely one of the best memories I have ever created with Archer. Even with all the difficulties we had encountered during the trip, we were still able to enjoy every moment together and continue to bond. Archer has made me appreciate the simple things in life, and understand that there is so much more adventures ahead!
While we are busy living life, don’t forget to stop and look around. Sometimes, you never know what you will discover with the smallest things nearby. Life with a cat is all about taking small steps. Therefore, every paw step matters, as you’ll discover a whole new world in your journey.