Beinn Bhiorach from the Beaton Trail Look-Off

Beinn Bhiorach from the Beaton Trail Look-Off
Photo 23 of 25: Beinn Bhiorach from the Beaton Trail Look-Off
Taken 2006 October 17 from the Beaton Trail at the look-off
GPS 46°09.467'N 61°25.932'W

The gorgeous weather continued after the Celtic Colours festival ended this year. This was the last day of the four-day streak of perfect days, and I took full advantage of it, spending nine hours hiking in the Cape Mabou Highlands Trail System, beautifully maintained by the Cape Mabou Trail Club; you can find a whole photo essay dedicated to this system here.

This view is from the look-off on the newly opened Beaton Trail, which offers splendid vistas across and along the valley through which MacKinnons Brook runs, from the Gulf of St Lawrence in the west to the end of the valley in the east, with the Cape Mabou Highlands lining both sides of the valley. In this photo, the summit of Beinn Bhiorach is at the middle left and the plateau on which the MacEachen Trail runs can be seen at the right; this photo gives a fine view of the conifer-laden col between the two. Indeed, conifers dominate this view, which is close to the Gulf of St Lawrence. Deciduous trees are found, especially in the more sheltered areas below the summit and leading up to the ridge; those that still had their leaves were predominantly orange, with some occasional yellows and even a red tree here and there.

[2012] The thing that most strikes me looking at this photo today is how sadly different this scene looks now. As noted, green conifers dominate in this photo. But, alas, no longer on today’s slopes: the spruce bark beetle has destroyed whole swaths of the white spruce trees seen here. A close look at this photo shows that the damage was already underway in 2006: notice the significant numbers of dead and dying trees in the immediate foreground down in the valley carved by MacKinnons Brook. Most of the evergreens seen here are now brown hulks either standing dead where once they grew or blown down in impenetrable jumbles. Where once the trails passed through a tunnel of marvellously scented, gorgeous, living trees, they are now either still completely blocked or only recently cleared through the piles of dead wood and open to the skies. Nature giveth and taketh away…