We set off before 7:30am for the last 20km into the ferry terminal at Tobermory. We rode the predominately downhill run in well under an hour, with the arrival at our destination being both sweet and sobering. After having a chat with one of the workers at the ferry — a retiree from Hamilton — we had about 10 minutes before Gwen had to board. I managed to get one last shot of Gwen and I together. It was perhaps fitting the camera lens was fogged!
After a big hug and some parting thanks — I clearly had not given anywhere near enough thought to this moment — Gwen had board. I indicated for her to head up onto the deck for a last shot or two... as I was waiting for her I could feel tears well in my eyes!
After snapping a few shots — somewhat ironic given that Gwen is seemingly behind the cage despite this being her ticket to personal freedom, myself being a little choked... We may never see each other again, and she was the person with whom I had most connected since arriving meeting her only a month prior... it seemed like so much longer. I pushed off for the return leg as, almost instantly, the rain came!
Prior to reaching the double back that was the starting point for the morning (Crane River) I stopped to snap a quick photo of something Gwen and I had spotted on our ride into Tobermory that morning — my wishes to her.
I rode through to Wiarton — 77km after some 4 hours — only stopping to fill my water bottles at Miller Creek. I picked up a couple apples and, as a downpour hit, I decided to eat one. I rode into this second storm, it having heavier rain and a strong headwind gusting well into the high 20km/hr, using my emotional state to push me through it. After the rain ceased, the sun came out in force.
By the time I reached Highway 21 it was blustering, easily hotter than the previous afternoon's high 20s. After my old map and not enough reference to it leading me not onto back-roads, I refilled my bottled at Springmount and headed down the alternate route to Highway 6. As the headwind persisted throughout the afternoon, and the climbs continued apace — something completely unexpected given the experience on the different route north — my energy was being sapped significantly. These continuous climbs were the most significant of the trip. The last few hours were physically challenging and demanding, taking most of what I had. As I crawled past one after another of what I though might prove potential campsites, and the distance to the Durham Conservation area decreased, (and the possibility of a shower increased) I willed myself to push on!
I could feel the effects of the high temperatures and was going through water very quickly. I reached to turn-off to the camp site well after 7pm. I pulled into the general store, refilled my bottles and downed a 600ml sports drink.
Even though this was my longest ride ever — both in hours and in distance — I arrived with enough daylight that I thought I could relax. The mosquitoes had other ideas. I did managed to cook up some soup, nibble on mixed fruits and nuts before hitting climbing into my tent before darkness set it. As I had arrived at the conservation area campsite late, the 'office' was closed. The sign on the window said it would reopen at 8am! I planned to be gone by then and save the $28 (or thereabouts) camp fee: it did not take long for sleep to come.