This is a somewhat strange photo with which to begin a photo essay on fall colours in Cape Breton. But that is the point of using this photograph: Cape Breton’s weather is highly variable and changeable and not always sunny, yet, even when the weather is stormy, it still produces scenes of compelling beauty, such as this one.
Although this photo shows a not at all unusual fall scene, it was unrepresentative of the superb weather Celtic Colours enjoyed this year: an amazing streak of six perfect days in a row followed two days later by another streak of four perfect days, with the sun out nearly every other day I was there for at least a couple of hours—by far the best weather of the four Celtic Colours festivals I have attended to date. Even the day this photo was taken ended with a mostly clear sky before evening and a beautiful moon at night.
Christy’s Look-Off is on the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19) 18.5 km (11.5 mi) north of the bridge over the Canso Canal that one crosses as one traverses the Canso Causeway from mainland Nova Scotia into Cape Breton; it’s north of Creignish village and 3.7 km (2.3 mi) north of the highway sign announcing the locality of Craigmore. I invariably stop here whenever I first arrive on the Cèilidh Trail and it is often my last stop on the Island before leaving. The magnificent views from the look-off are south towards Creignish Mountain, Low Point, and the Strait of Canso; southwest to mainland Nova Scotia; and west to Cape George on the mainland, always a significant landmark from Inverness County’s western and southern shores and summits.
This photograph, which looks a bit west of south, was taken forty minutes after I arrived on the Island. When I left Moncton that morning, a downpour (forecast to leave 60 mm (2.36 in) of rain) propelled by a strong gusty wind made driving difficult; by the time I arrived at the Causeway not quite four hours later, the skies were mostly overcast and there was no rain, though the clouds were low enough to brush the summit of Creignish Mountain as I drove up the Cèilidh Trail. By the time I got to Christy’s Look-Off, the sun was out at the Strait of Canso, shining brightly on the water through clouds beginning to dissipate, but soon to be eclipsed by the squall one sees here moving quickly across St Georges Bay.
A few drops of rain from this storm fell on the look-off, but the Causeway bore the brunt of this squall, where it passed in a matter of ten minutes; the black clouds had already moved on and the sky had returned to white and grey clouds which the sun was unable to pierce by the time I left the look-off about fifteen minutes after this photo was taken.