The fall of 2014 was exceptional. When I drove to my first cousin’s in Pittsburgh at the end of September, I noticed a fair amount of colour on the way out and back, especially through the Allegheny Mountains; since this was my first early fall trip to western Pennsylvania, I didn’t know if that was unusual or not, but when I got back to Jackson, I saw fall colours here too, earlier than I’d ever seen them in the 26 years I’d lived here. A Cape Breton friend advised me to “come early”, as the leaves were already changing there and rapidly, so I left a few days earlier than I would normally have. When I reached Cape Breton on the 4th of October, the colours in the backcountry were already out, so I was glad I had taken his advice. In recent years, the colours have peaked after the end of the Celtic Colours International Festival, which was held in 2014 from 10 through 18 October, but this year, they instead peaked during the Festival.
In addition to the earlier colours than usual, the weather was generally excellent up through the end of the Festival and continued into the following week when I stayed on afterwards, though it deteriorated considerably towards the end of the week. I was extremely busy during the Festival, with little time for photography, so I missed out on the peak of the colours around Mabou, which I could see, as I drove madly about, were gorgeous. By the time I had gotten the leisure to photograph them, though, they were already mostly past peak. Nevertheless, I got a lot of photos of fall colours, of which I present a sampling here.
If you read through this essay, you will follow me as I travelled about, from Port Hood to Meat Cove and back to the Margarees; to the backcountry between Port Hood and Whycocomagh; to Cape Mabou and the Mabou River basin; and on some of the off-the-beaten-track roads in Richmond County. I didn’t make it to Cape Breton County again this fall; the schedule and the weather just didn’t work out. But you will find 479 photos from the other three counties, making it the longest of any essay to date, and I suspect you will encounter among them at least a few places you haven’t seen before in Cape Breton.
For a full report of how I spent each day of this fall trip in Cape Breton, read the daily accounts I posted on Facebook, which I have collected here. When relevant, I have freely incorporated portions of these accounts into this essay to provide context on my travels.
Since this series of annual fall colours essays has been running from 2005 onwards, with the exception of 2010 for which I had insufficient photos, it is inevitable that there will be duplicate scenes in this year’s essay, as revisiting “old friends”, both people and places, is one of the many joys of the Festival. I hope you will nevertheless enjoy the selection of this year’s photos presented here.
Victor Maurice Faubert
2015 March 1
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Note 1: If you are unfamiliar with the place names mentioned in this essay, a list of map resources is given here. Of these, the best computer-readable map of Cape Breton Island that I currently know about is the Cape Breton Travel Map, produced by Destination Cape Breton and, thanks to their express written permission, available as a PDF file here; I strongly urge you to download it. This map scales nicely, allowing you to zoom in on an area of interest, has a very helpful place name index, and provides a level of detail, both of back roads and streams, that is quite good.
Note 2: See the description here for the notation I use for GPS (Global Positioning System) coördinates, which are those the camera recorded when I took the photos. In some cases, the camera failed to capture the GPS coördinates when I took certain of the photos; the coördinates of those photos were determined from Grimelda, the GPS track logger I now use on my daily excursions.
Feedback on the photos and the accompanying commentary, including corrections, is always welcome; send it to the address in the footer below. All of the essays in this series are archived here.