Photo #1 is a look down the Lowland Cove Trail when returning from Cape St Lawrence; I have a similar view from two days earlier, where Cape North, in the distance, was still shrouded in light haze and with fog offshore, as it was to remain for the rest of that day. But this Thursday, the weather was well nigh perfect and the details on Cape North are crisp. At the middle distance, on the near side of Bay St Lawrence (the water), are the cliffs of Black Point, with the rock quarry gleaming above the Meat Cove Road. On the near side of Black Point are the waters of Meat Cove, only a small spot in this view. Very little is visible of the Lowland Cove Trail itself, which descends (and ascends!) sharply. This section of the trail is happily unusual, with views such as this one visible through the narrow gap left by the trees at several points along the way. If you, as I must, stop frequently ascending this part of the trail, be sure to turn around and enjoy the views as you catch your breath!
Photo #2 looks back at the livestock gate found about 950 m (⅗ mi) from the Meat Cove Road. The gate is formed of loose horizontal logs laying on twin uprights, so it is easy to pass—one simply lifts out the uppermost log, steps over, and replaces it on the other side. The gate keeps the free range horses and cattle, which roam free in the summers over the western Highlands as far south as Polletts Cove, from descending into the village (it doesn’t seem to have much effect on the moose though, judging by the evidence I saw Tuesday on the Fraser Trail before reaching the Lowland Cove Trail). The photo also conveys the stony, rocky, nature of the trail, impossible to wander off. Notice the serious erosion caused by the unnamed brook that parallels the Lowland Cove Trail for much of its course up/down the mountain. There was little water in it this day, but clearly its flow can be significant enough to cause serious damage.
Photo #3 looks at the unnamed brook which caused the erosion seen in photo #2 from further up the trail, near the Meat Cove Look-Off Trail junction (at GPS 47°01.398′N 60°34.220′W). It has some flow—enough to make a gurgling song as I sat there recovering my breath—but with very little depth; it has, however, over the years, carved a pretty good ditch along the trail, at least in those spots where it doesn’t flow on the trail, as it does further up the mountainside.
Photo #4 looks at the Lowland Cove Trail about two-thirds of the way between the Meat Cove Look-Off Trail junction and the corral at the old Fraser homestead. Considerable altitude has been gained here, as the look-off lies on the other side of the rounded slope seen in the distance. Notice the gouging in the trail bed, where water has carved a path down, along, and across the trail. It is common to encounter some wet areas just above this spot on the trail—nothing one can’t easily step around or over where the inadequate ditching encourages the brook to just flow down the trial. There was little of that this day, however, as the trail was exceptionally dry.
Photo #5 is a wide-angled morning view showing the fields near the summit where, I am told, Donald Fraser settled after being shipwrecked on Frasers Beach in the 1850’s, while looking for a place to settle along this coast. I do not know what has happened to the buildings that once were here and have not explored the site as it is on private land and not within the boundaries of the Aspy Polletts Cove Wilderness Area, which starts at the summit above this spot. But it is always a welcome site to see, as it signals that the summit is within reach and it offers nice respite from the trail, if only for a few moments.
Photo #6 is a telephoto shot, also taken in the morning, that shows the “corral”, a circular rail fence obviously no longer capable of holding anything within its confines. I don’t think that this land is actively worked these days, but something certainly keeps the grass trimmed!
Photo #7, taken in the evening on the return leg, proposes a good candidate for the grass trimmer! This lovely mare must be a companion to two other horses I met both coming and going on the Cape St Lawrence Trail earlier that day (and there are several other horses and cattle to help with the work). She was not the least discomfited by my presence, but kept a good distance away as she continued to enjoy the spring grasses.
Photo #8, also taken in the evening, shows an interesting trail through the woods, that I did not notice in the stronger, harsher light of the morning. Looking at it in Google Maps, it appears to dead-end in the forest, but, at least while the homestead was inhabited, likely continued on to the cliffs on the north coast.
Photo #9 looks in the opposite direction of the old Fraser homestead, where the Lowland Cove Trail can be seen continuing its inexorable ascent towards the summit. For, alas, as welcome as the homestead is to see, there is still some climb left, though not quite as abrupt as heretofore.
Photo #10, which I took eighteen minutes after photo #9, shows the trail at the summit! It is also at about this point that one crosses into the Polletts Cove Aspy Fault Provincial Wilderness Area, though no signs mark the boundary. Just shortly past this point, around the curve, I spooked a young moose who was browsing at the side of the trail, the first wild moose I had ever seen in these western Highlands—I usually wheeze and pant so loudly that all wild animals give me a very wide berth. But here, the path was downhill and I had rested several minutes at the summit, so got to see one. He quickly sped off down the trail and into the forest not far away.
Photo #11 shows the junction of the Lowland Cove and Cape St Lawrence Trails below the summit of the western Highlands. The signs in this photo are new since my last time here in 2009, when only orange flagging tape marked this junction. The one at the right reads “Cape St Lawrence” and the one at the left (in the evergreens) reads “Lowland Cove”. Don’t be misled by the grass at the right: the Cape St Lawrence trail quickly becomes as rocky as the Lowland Cove Trail once it enters the forest. Both trails are sharp downhill from here, giving up the altitude gained in the ascent from Meat Cove, though the Lowland Cove Trail does it over a considerably longer distance than the Cape St Lawrence Trail.
Photo #12 shows much the same scene as photo #11, but in the afternoon’s light as I was returning from Cape St Lawrence. The Lowland Cove trail angles around to the right following below the ridge seen at the top of the photo.