It was a magnificent day when I reached the summit of Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain). As happy as I was to have finished the climb, this area now makes me very sad because I remember it not that long ago when it was still a living, vibrant forest with wonderful aromas of spruce filling the air. What absolute havoc that nasty spruce bark beetle has caused here! Its forest is no more and those trees still standing are just dead sticks of wood turning white with the weather. On the plus side, there are now open views that never existed before, but oh, what I wouldn’t give to smell those wonderful aromas there once again!
As I was taking photos here, two young ladies, one from Germany and with excellent English, arrived at the summit; it’s so nice to see the trails in use by people from far away! I made suggestions for their hike, as this was their first time in the Cape Mabou Trail Club system.
Photo #1 shows the signage at the junction with the side trail to the look-off. The wooden sign at the top, weathered from its many years of standing here, is more difficult to pick up with the eyes than the brighter newer sign below, made, I’m told, of aluminum to better withstand the weather. The new signage will be especially welcome in the forested areas, where the weathered wooden signs are easy for a first-time hiker to overlook in the dimmer light. The trail register can be seen at the bottom left on the side trail; it is in the wooden box on the tree at the left of the photo. If you hike these trails, please be sure to sign in each trail register you encounter: the number of people using the trails is determined from the registers and the more signatures in the book the better the chances of getting governmental funding to help with their maintenance.
Photo #2 looks backwards along the trail from the junction with the side trail to the look-off. The tread here is grassy and the Cape Mabou Highlands to the south can be seen above the trees in the distance. There is just enough protection here that the wind blowing in off the Gulf is greatly diminished—how lovely it was this day in the sun!
What a tangled mess at the left of the trail seen in photo #3! It was nearly as bad on the right side of the trail, but those hulks have been mostly cleared out. It is just beyond the end of the trail seen in this photo that one reaches the MacPhee Trail junction and a few steps beyond that the Grande Allée of fond memory (my name for it) started down towards MacKinnons Brook through the aromatic forest, even then showing incipient signs of the devastation to come. Alas, no more: that wonderful stand is such an impassible mess these days that the Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain) Trail now follows the MacPhee Trail for some 255 m (⅙ mi) before it sets off along an open ridge down towards MacKinnons Brook on a completely new trail.
Photo #4 looks east up at the summit of Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain), whose height Google Earth gives as 225 m (738 ft) (the topographical map says over 260 m (853 ft), but my GPS records 191 m (627 ft) at the junction, so I’d guess Google Earth is closer to right). Great piles of dead brush and downed and cut-up windfalls litter this hillside; no trail I know of leads up to the summit, as there used to be too much vegetation to see anything from there and besides the look-off offers expansive views of the same terrain that would differ only by a matter of a few metres/yards.
Photo #5 shows the only sign of red fall hues near the junction with the side trail. And this is not a maple either, but a wild rose bush, most of whose leaves are now red, full of red-coloured berries known as rose hips, one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C.
Photo #6 looks west at the side trail to the look-off, just over the small hill seen here. Not too many leaves remain on the few deciduous trees here, blown away in the winds. But, from all appearances, no frost here yet, with the green grass of photo #2 and the still green bushes seen here.