As we began our descent from the summit of North Mountain, the skies turned darker than they had been; the thick clouds seen in the photos on this page were the cause, preventing the sun from brightening up this landscape as it had elsewhere. In addition, the trees on the mountains in this area are mostly deciduous and their trunks soften the brightness of the snow beneath them, making the photos appear darker than the views actually were.
From the summit of North Mountain, the Cabot Trail descends through a narrow passage between the flanks of mountains on each side—I think of this section as “the canyon”, even though it is relatively elevated with respect to sea level. Because it is so narrow and winding, there is a no-stopping zone along this section of the Cabot Trail, of 4 km (2½ mi), if memory serves. Since we were the first and only car on the road this afternoon, we took advantage of the situation and stopped for photos at the point where the view opens up (as one descends further, this view is lost).
Photo #1 shows the mountains on the north side of the Cabot Trail as it descends through “the canyon”. The hillsides in the foreground at the right are the easternmost flanks of the Roberts Mountain massif. At the far left is a small portion of the ice-coated Gulf of St Lawrence, which forms Pleasant Bay (the water) in the bight between MacKenzies Mountain and Kerrs Point.
Photo #2 is the same view, but looking just a bit further to the south than the upper photo. A sliver of the whiter slopes leading to the Roberts Mountain summit can be seen in the far distance at the far right. The Grande-Anse River, which empties into the Gulf through “The Pond” (as the harbour in Pleasant Bay is sometimes called), has formed the alluvial plain that extends back from the Gulf inland, seen in this photo at the base of the mountains in the middle distance. The long diagonal slope at the left in the far distance is that of MacKenzies Mountain; the nearer hillsides at the left are unnamed, so far as I am aware.¹
¹ Google Maps labels the Highlands plateau to the east of the MacKenzies River as MacKenzies Mountain; The Nova Scotia Atlas, the topographical map, and the Parks Canada map in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada Park Guide and Map all put the label for MacKenzies Mountain to the west of the MacKenzies River. My assumption is therefore that MacKenzies Mountain does not extend to the east of the MacKenzies River.
Parks Canada spells the names of the mountain and river as “MacKenzie Mountain” and “MacKenzie River” and uses those forms on its road signs in the Park; The Nova Scotia Atlas and the topographical map spell them as “MacKenzies Mountain” and “MacKenzies River”, which forms I have used here and elsewhere on this web site. A Google search reveals that both spellings are in common use (as well as such variants as “McKenzie” and “MacKenzie’s”).↩
Photo #3 is a view of the Cabot Trail looking back towards whence we had come; notice the blowing snow across the bottom half of the road sign left of centre. The ridge across the width of the photo is one of the walls of “the canyon”. Note, too, that there is considerably less snow here than there was on the summit and that the road, with less snow to stack up, is correspondingly wider. I presume the lesser amounts of snow here occur because it is relatively more protected from the winds, which deposit the snow across the summit of North Mountain unencumbered by any protecting heights.
We continued on into Pleasant Bay, stopping for photos in front of the MidTrail Motel & Inn in the village. It is from there that photo #4 was taken, looking east to the snowy slopes of Roberts Mountain rising above the village. The lack of deciduous trees at the summit contrasts vividly with the browner hues of the deciduous trees on the flank at the right.