We turned around at the Bras d’Or Look-Off and returned over the summit of Kelleys Mountain to stop on the west side at the St Anns Look-Off, not yet ploughed to remove Thursday’s snow (which also still so prettily coats the trees in the foreground, as it did those on the east side of Kellys Mountain). When we stopped, the high snow banks prevented me from seeing much, even standing, so I walked over to the snow banks and climbed up high enough on them that I could see below. My heart jumped when I saw the beautiful view in photo #1! I had been here many times before, but never had the terrain in the Cape Breton Highlands across St Anns Harbour and Jersey Cove been limned in such remarkable detail as one sees here! This panorama is stunning at any time of year, but oh, glory, how it sparkles in the winter! I will never think of it in quite the same way again: under the right light, winter adds a wholly unexpected new dimension to scenes one thought one knew well!
Masses of floating ice cover several parts of St Anns Harbour and Jersey Cove in photo #1; several sections of barely submerged ice that do not lack much from forming new floating ice masses are adjacent, though open water is present in the harbour as well. Recall that the French built their first defensive establishments on these banks, but later abandoned them in favour of Louisbourg because the harbour and the bay beyond were blocked by ice for long periods in the (much colder) winters of those colonial days. These days, pack ice still arrives, as I learnt when writing the Cape Breton’s Winter Colours photo essay last year (see this photo and this one, both taken in 2009, for proof), but if it arrives at all, it now comes much later (and usually at the time sea ice in the Gulf of St Lawrence is breaking up and floating out through the Cabot Strait, when winds from the right direction can push it south into St Anns Bay) and stays for a much shorter period of time.
Photo #2 shows the Englishtown cable ferry leaving the Jersey Cove landing across the mouth of St Anns Harbour. The cable here lies on top of the ice, which nearly completely blocks the outlet into St Anns Bay, surprising given the especially swift currents through this narrow channel. Indeed, as the ferry approached the Englishtown landing, its flat bottom was pulled up on top of the ice, which was substantial enough that repeated ferry crossings had not broken it up!
Once ferried across the harbour mouth onto the Jersey Cove landing, we stopped again for photos of the coast to the north of St Anns Bay. The last two photos on this page were taken there. While I was busy snapping photos, I noticed how especially strong and chilling the winds off Murray Mountain were! One would certainly not want to leave unprotected skin exposed to them for any length of time!
Photo #3 shows white caps in St Anns Bay, whipped up by the wind, but the blobs of white seen close to the shore (and many of those further out) are not waves, but masses of ice beginning to chunk together to form floes, like those seen at the right of the photo. Bentinck Point, south of Little River, is in the far distance at the left. Cape Smokey, often visible here, was hidden behind the haze and what later proved to be blowing snow that conceal the coastline beyond Bentinck Point in this photo.
Photo #4 looks across the bight at Jersey Cove, towards the much closer Red Island, seen here in the centre and middle right of the photo as a line of white snow next to the water with a row of evergreens (black-looking here, but green in actuality) directly above. MacDonalds Big Pond lies inside the long, thin cobblestone barrier thrown up by the waves that has formed Red Island. A beautiful hiking trail leads from the Cabot Trail beside the St Anns Bay United Church to this coastline; gorgeous views of the Barachois River, of St Anns Bay, of MacDonalds Big Pond, and of the adjacent Cape Breton Highlands abound from this trail. I am yet again struck by the incredible clarity of the highland terrain that is seen here; it is so spectacularly different from the much softer-edged, foliage-covered, green-hued mountains that I have heretofore associated with this view!