Day 11: Cheticamp to Mabou - Nova Scotia and Cape Breton 2003 - CycleBlaze

September 9, 2003

Day 11: Cheticamp to Mabou

Got up at 8 AM and away from the motel at 9:05. Stocked up at the supermarket and got on the road at 9:30. The day was mostly sunny with a brisk northwest wind. I was heading south so it was somewhat of a tailwind!

Cheticamp is an interesting town with more French influence than any town I saw in Nova Scotia. Lots of Acadian flags flying. I heard many people speaking French and saw many French signs.

Houses in Cheticamp, a French Acadian town.
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Stone church in Cheticamp.
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One interesting thing about the town and the area is that there are very few trees. Maybe the winds and winter ice and snow make it hard for trees to survive. Or maybe nobody wants trees because it never gets warm enough to want shade? Surely people would want trees to block the constant wind from the west. I don't know.

Most houses in Cheticamp had no trees. Strange for such a windy place.
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I continued south from Cheticamp, enjoying the sunshine and tailwind. But the temperature was only 13C (56F), and the strong crosswind made it feel cold. I made good time through tiny Acadian towns such as Grand Etang, St. Joseph du Moine, and Cap Le-Moine. The terrain is relatively flat and treeless. Then suddenly after crossing a river I depart the Acadian area and enter the Scottish area with towns like Margaree Harbour and Dunvegan. There started to be more trees and the terrain got hillier. My impression is that when the Acadians returned to Nova Scotia after the expulsion, they settled in windswept barren land that nobody else wanted.

Unusual scarecrow collection.
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Less hilly now but the shore is still rocky.
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The area is sparsely populated and there isn't much evidence of agriculture, fishing, or tourism. Maybe everybody is retired?

I stopped for lunch in Inverness. It's quite a bustling little town. The largest town on the northwest coast of Cape Breton. Dump trucks constantly drove through town hauling material from a former mine that is now a big hazardous waste cleanup site. After lunch I went down to the beach just to see what it looked like. It was a long wide beach but far too cold and windy for people to be there for fun.

Rough surf at the beach in Inverness.
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In Inverness I decided to take a detour along the coast south of Inverness to see the scenery on the MacKinnon Brook trail. The road is a 11 km dead end and only the first 2 km is paved. The entire length of the road is extremely hilly with 600 meters of climbing getting in and out. It was interesting to get far off the beaten track. I didn't see a single car on my way in and I only saw two cars on my way out. There was one parked car at the trailhead. It took me an hour to get to the trailhead so I didn't think I had time to do much hiking. I only hiked 2 km down the trail and then back to the bike. It's a very nice trail on the edge of a headland 40 meters above the ocean.

View from the MacKinnon's Brook Trail in the middle of nowhere.
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Altogether my side trip took 3 hours. Back on the main highway I continued south towards the town of Mabou. The road stays inland through scenic mountain valleys. The hills get big near Mabou and there is a long downhill into Mabou. The sky was clear but the sun was getting low. The temperature had dropped to 11C (52F). I got a few more groceries in Mabou and pressed on to the Celidh campground in West Mabou, 4km off the highway. The road to West Mabou is very scenic, uphill most of the way. I got to the campground a few minutes before sunset and set up camp. It wasn't extremely windy when I got there but every campsite has a windscreen made from privacy lattice. After setting up my tent I watched the full moon and Mars rise together. The temperature dropped rapidly under the clear skies. I made dinner and ate it in my tent to keep warm.

It was a nice day despite the cold temperature. At least it was mostly sunny and I had a tailwind most of the time. It would have been a very easy day if I didn't take the strenuous 3 hour detour. The road has more traffic than when I was going through the national park but traffic still isn't a problem.

Distance: 106 km (66.3 mi) (18 km gravel)

Climbing: 1139m (3758 ft)

Hiking: 4km (2.5 mi)

Today's ride: 106 km (66 miles)
Total: 917 km (569 miles)

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