From MacKinnons Cove, we continued our northwards drive on the Cabot Trail. We stopped at a couple more look-offs along the way, but the snow banks were sufficiently high that it was hard to see over them and, if one climbed up onto them for a better view, the blowing snow interfered with the photography, so we pushed onward. By now, we were beginning to get hungry, so, when we arrived in Cape North Village without having found anything else open (hardly a surprise at this time of year), we stopped for lunch at the Country Market there, which offers a good selection of ready-made sandwiches and microwavable foods along with hot coffee and scrumptious desserts; because neither Cape North village nor the adjacent area now has any eateries open in the morning in the summer time, I have often stopped there to pick up a coffee-and-pastry breakfast to enjoy a short ways away along the road either by the shore or in some other picturesque spot, in which this area abounds, as well as sandwiches and other goodies for lunch while hiking in or driving around the area.
Suitably refreshed by our selections, we turned right down the Bay St Lawrence Road at the Y in Cape North Village and headed towards the “Top of the Island”. Blowing snow again interfered with photographs along this road, which offers fine views of the Cape North massif, of the North Aspy River, and of Aspy Bay. Nor was it any surprise to find the Cabot Landing Provincial Park closed—all of the provincial parks, at least in Cape Breton, are closed and gated in October and do not reöpen until May—so we could not stop to enjoy its magnificent views (nor to see the serious damage that a storm last fall was reported as having done to the shore there). When we reached the junction with the Meat Cove Road in Bay St Lawrence, I asked Mike to continue on to the end of the road at the Bay St Lawrence Wharf on the very edge of Bay St Lawrence, from which all the photos on this page were taken.
The winds continued to howl and seemed even stronger here, where they have an uninterrupted sweep across the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Cabot Strait. There was plenty of blowing snow in the air (and on our faces!) and the local cloud cover stopped us from seeing the sun. A number of the photos I took were so obscured by the whipped snow that one can only make out indistinct shapes in them; for instance, one looking towards the Cape North massif over Deadmans Pond from the wharf (not shown) hides all but the contours of the massif, while the houses in the village come out at best as indistinct blurs. It was not exactly a white-out, but visibility was very seriously compromised nonetheless. In spite of this, I did manage to get some reasonably good close-up photos.
Photo #1 looks northeast along the shore at the rocky cliffs that are immediately adjacent to the wharf. The ice-covered bay comes right up to the base of these cliffs. The cover here is a mixture of ice and snow; notice the icicles where, before the ice had covered the water, water splashed up and froze as it dripped down. Parts of the wharf were ice-encrusted from water both splashed up by waves and carried in the air by the strong winds that can whip across the Bay. It is again very interesting to notice how the snow at the tops of the cliffs has been sculpted, particularly the very sharp “peak” at the top of the photo about a third of the way in from the right.
Photo #2 shows the entrance to Bay St Lawrence Harbour and is one of the few I took looking out towards the Gulf that isn’t obscured by the blowing snow (the winds must have been pausing for a moment to catch their breath!). Notice how irregular the ice is—clumps of coälesced ice pushed willy-nilly together and covered by snow that has not yet masked their individual shapes. I do not know how thick the ice is here, but I’d judge it at around 60 cm (2 ft) and perhaps more: I looked back through my photos for views of the quai across the harbour entrance (in the summer, it is usually crowded with sea birds and hence photogenic), but, although the 2005 photos I found don’t have the double lines seen here, which means that the quai has changed since then, I judge it to be about 1.5 m (5 ft) from the top of the quai to the water line (which, of course, could vary with the tides and might be more or less with the newer quai). This photo shows the sea ice running for as far as one can see; as subsequent photos in this essay will prove, it did extend out to Cape North and somewhat beyond into the Cabot Strait, though it proved to be less extensive than it appears here.
Photo #3 looks over the quai in the previous photo along the shore to the west at the cliffs there; blowing snow has effectively blotted out the right third of this photo, but the cliffs in the rest look pretty similar to those in photo #1, though with a somewhat thinner snow topping and somewhat more ice at the water line.
Photo #4 looks in the same direction, but further to the left. Photo #5 shows the end of the cliff in profile that began in photo #4 and looks across the top of the quai to the rocks beyond. While sharp in profile, the coast beyond is completely invisible here—normally, one would expect to be able to see across the water to Capstick and Black Point. This is a tad bit strange, as later photos in this essay will show it should have been possible to see the coast; it must be that the blowing snow abated not too long after we left.