At 9:30 Wednesday morning were on our way to the Cape Breton Highlands.
A stop in Whycocomagh for coffee and cinnamon rolls (our morning fix) and it was down the Trans-Canada Highway to the Red Barn near Nyanza, three or four miles up the Middle River/Margaree Road to the top of Hunter’s Mountain.
We turned on the main Highland Road which was built in the 1960s and 70s as a main haulage road for harvesting the pulpwood stands on the Cape Breton Highlands plateau. The whole of the highlands plateau was harvested in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s by Stora Enso and reforested.
A trip along the main road shows how healthy the new forests are, and their luxuriant green coats are impressive. Hopefully, they won’t undergo the severe budworm attacks and infestations of the 1970s. The main road is in good shape and straight as an arrow. Smaller haulage roads break off from the main road. Center Road, Fielding Road, and Kelly Road are some of the larger development roads.
We were looking for the Second Forks Brook Road with the Cape Clear sign. About five miles in, the Cape Clear road comes to an end. A few hundred feet later, we walked out onto Cape Clear and its panoramic view of the North East Margaree River and one of its tributaries, the First Forks Brook. It’s not hard to see why Cape Clear got its name; outcropping granite, a few scrubby spruce trees and a view worth talking about.
At 1,500-feet of elevation, Cape Clear stands 1,000-feet above the tumbling North East Margaree River that looks like a shining ribbon below. Cape Clear is a nose of land that projects between the main river and the First Forks Brook. In places, I am sure that the vertical cliffs on Cape Clear are over 500-feet.
It’s time to sit down and soak in the whole vista. Who brought the lunch? Don’t tell me that we forgot to bring something to munch on. Oh Well, we will have to be satisfied with refreshments only.
Looking down into the valley, the straight line of mountain faces of the Margaree Fault could easily be seen. Looming large in the centre of the valley is the isolated remnants of the plateau – Sugarloaf.
It was separated by the present course of the North East Margaree River and an ancient river channel. A beautiful slide of water with a vertical drop of over 80-feet can be seen on Second Forks Brook. Over the top of the plateau to the west is the precipitous cliffs and 200-foot waterfall of Turner Brook. After an hour or so it was time to go.
We continued on the Highland Road as far as Cheticamp Lake and the dams that divert some of the headwaters of smaller streams into the Wreck Cove Power Project. We continued on down the road that leads from the mountains to the Cabot Trail.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day with bright sunshine and clear blue skies and just enough clouds to compliment the good pictures. Many have viewed the panoramic view down through the river valley from the high perch of Cape Clear, but few have actually traversed the bottom of the valley below. Perhaps some geologist and map-makers have over the years!
When admiring a scene such as this one, few of us stop to think of the millions of years that it took the Margaree River to cut its ravine-like course through the sold granites of the Cape Breton Highland Plateau.