Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cape Breton - Cape North

The drive from Port Hood to South Harbour took us up the west coast of Cape Breton island, through towns with Scottish names like Inverness, Dunvegan & Margaree. After crossing the salmon-rich Margaree river things went all French on us, and the towns were named Belle Cote, Terre Noire, Cap Le Moine and Cheticamp. At the latter we entered the national park, where the road surface improved notably, but it commenced to cut into the steep edges of the plateau, climbing 1500' before leveling off in the highlands. What goes up must necessarily come down, and its the down bit that had me worried. The descent was a 13% grade, so we dropped back down to sea level on a series of switchbacks only a little over 2 miles long. I learned my lesson in the Smokies, however, and with Gigantor in low gear, braking only to keep the speed under 25mph, we got down with no brake issues. Halfway down Nancy pointed out a beautiful black bull moose near the roadside, which was exciting. We had to climb back up and over another mountain, a 13% grade up, the engine roaring, the wheel turning nearly lock to lock on the tight turns, and a 13% down once more. It was good to arrive at the campground, knowing I was done with that for a few days.

The Hideaway Campground and Oyster Market has some of the largest and nicest sites of any private facility we've seen so far. Although our site is near the office and bathrooms, we don't look out our windows into other campers, so its what we like.

We took a drive out to Meat Cove - couldn't resist visiting such an oddly named village, named back when passing ships would complain about the stench of moose that were slaughtered here. The last 8km of the road is dirt, and hugged the steeply sloped mountainside, arriving at last at the remote cove. There is a small group of houses, a couple of restaurants, and a campground. The campground is terraced such that all sites look out over Saint Lawrence Bay. The lowest tier, all tent sites, are just feet from a sheer drop into the water!

We had a nice walk on a narrow, serpentine boardwalk down to the beach, where folks have stacked the smooth, flat stones into tall towers.

The next day we drove out for a hike at White Point. We stopped at this gorgeous overlook along the way. Notice the color of the water, and the peninsula in the background is where we hiked.

The hike was spectacular - one of my all time favorite hikes. The scenery was awesome from start to finish, the landscape was unlike most of the coastal regions we've seen, very much like Scotland. There was a large community of gulls at the land's end, gannets diving into baitfish in the bay, grey seals feeding on the same, and bald eagles soaring heavily by or perched in the scrub pines, screeching their high, nasaly, wheezing calls:

One the way back to camp we stopped in Neil's Harbour, where snow crab traps were stacked up post-seaon. There have been a lot of stinging jellyfish in Nova Scotia, and here I got a good photo of one of the nasty creatures:

That night I made an appetizer out of a half-dozen of the Aspy Bay Oysters that our hosts catch in the warm bay waters:

In the evening, a trip down to the road's end brought us to a sand beach maybe 2 miles long, all of Aspy Bay from Money Point to White Point spread out before us, the cliffs glowing in the late day sun:

The dogs love running on the beach, and as we had it to ourselves, they could do so. The seaweed line at the high water mark was littered with dead and dying jellyfish - hundreds of them. I can only imagine how many must be floating in the bay. No swimming for me,thanks!

The next morning we drove up onto the plateau, much easier without the trailer, and took a hike into a boggy area where we hoped to see moose. There were tracks and scat everywhere, but the beasts eluded us. The deerflies took a liking to Nancy, so we wrapped her head in my spare shirt to keep her sane:

Look at the size of that moose print!:

Yesterday Toby and I went on a more strenuous hike, climbing up to the highlands on a rocky trail. We spotted a moose nearly right away, but it lumbered off before I could get a photo. Higher up, however, the strong headwinds prevented this guy from detecting us, and we came practically face to face:

I spotted the coyote first, being considerably taller than Toby, and I got him on leash, and got out the camera. I watched as it sniffed its way along the trail towards us. Finally Toby caught a whiff, and barked. The coyoted raised its head and stared at us, unmoving. After a few moments I decided to move so that it would recognize me as the threat that I clearly am, and it turned tail and bolted. Toby was very proud of himself, thinking that he'd chased it off himself! Here he is at the top, enjoying the panoramic views, and bracing against the 50mph winds:

Back at camp, we made our dinner from this brace of local snow crab legs - very meaty, and with a wonderful flavor and texture. I made four large crab rolls from these legs.

So, a great visit to the north of Cape Breton. We'll make one more stop on the island before leaving Nova Scotia - hope to catch another Ceiligh in Baddeck.

1 comment:

  1. And while you were doing all that, I was working on a really half-assed Powerpoint presentation today, LOL

    That is an amazing place, you are adding fuel to the fire here...