Photo #1 looks eastward along the Cabot Trail. The slopes at the left of the photo, which descend across the entire photo, are those of Roberts Mountain; the mountain in the centre and the right of the photo is connected to Andrews Mountain, though I’m not sure whether it is locally reckoned as part of it—both mountains, of course, are part of the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau. Notice that the sun is casting shadows on the road and therefore on the mountains seen here. Many of the trees are bare in the upper elevations; significant numbers of yellow trees, some orange-tinged, are seen on the slopes of both mountains interspersed with the evergreens. The oranges seem to be in the majority along the road, though some of them are bare as well.
When I turned around to look back at the slopes of the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau east of MacKenzies Mountain on the other side of the road, I encountered the phenomenon I think of as the “flaming forest”: when the sun illuminates the multi-coloured leaves of autumn at their peak in such a way as to make it appear that they are on fire as they shimmer and flare and tremble and even vibrate in the reflected sunlight. Photo #2 captures a still version of this “blazing” forest, which does not even begin to do the actual phenomenon justice.¹
Photo #3 is a close-up version that a little better, albeit poorly still, conveys the flaming colours I saw shimmering in the sunlight of the mid-afternoon. While there are reds and oranges in the colour palette, it is the intermixed lemony yellows and the lime greens that stand out the most here.
¹ On this trip, I had first encountered this stunning phenomenon at the base of Kellys Mountain two days earlier, but I was in line behind a “follow-me truck” in the construction zone at the base of the mountain in New Harris Settlement, so I couldn’t stop to photograph the scene. I usually encounter it at least once each fall somewhere in Cape Breton, but it is rare, simultaneously requiring peak leaves and sunlight at just the right angle. When it happens, though, it is absolutely mesmerizing and stunning to watch.↩
Photo #4 is a pretty red maple in the ditch along the Cabot Trail sporting somewhat darker coloured leaves than expected, doubtless a result of the unchanged chlorophyll still seen in many of them. It is nonetheless a lovely young tree and I wish it good health and a long life.