For reasons unknown to myself, I have long had an obsession with remote, rugged places. Whether it’s the interior of Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island, the deserts of the Baja or the mountains of Switzerland, I find myself searching for the most remote and inhospitable places I can find. Cape Spear, Newfoundland is not particularly remote, being only half an hour away from the City of St. John’s, at least compared to my usual pursuit, but when you arrive, you get a feeling that your just a tiny part of the functions of the landscape around you, and that you are very alone. The windswept ground where almost nothing grows taller than a foot, the waves which move boulders every time they crash against the shore, and the endless deep blue ocean are all that’s around you. And yet, centuries ago people inhabited this shoreline, installing a lighthouse to guide ships past the treacherous rocks, taming this point of land. But from about 1955 on, the area lost its full-time inhabitants to an automate lighthouse, once again returning to a desolate outpost on the eastern edge of Newfoundland.
During the summer Cape Spear once again looses its untamed feeling. Hundreds of people make the trek to this place everyday. Crowds of tourists from the many tour buses fill the pathways, smartphones out snapping pictures of the whales which migrate past the region in the summer. Somehow Cape Spear becomes more human, more tamed. Come October though, the crowds are suddenly gone, leaving Cape Spear to the locals and those crazy enough to visit in the winter. This is when I most enjoy visiting, and one of the last chances to get any aerial shots of the area. Come November, the waves are getting so large that even hundreds of feet in the air, the drone will become drenched in sea spray from the house sized waves, and the winds are so strong that I find myself crouching on the ground trying not to fly away. From then on, I periodically visit, but the cold, wet air leaves a film of ice over anything that dares to venture out that way in the middle of winter, shortening my visits to a few minutes. And then, just like a switch was turned, the crowds return and Cape Spear once again is buzzing with energy, until October when they will once again leave.