The last post had us arriving in Summerside finishing Day 4 of The Island Walk
Very happy to say we hit the Halfway Point yesterday! It was a celebration at the Waypoint sign 16 with 364 km completed of the 700km circumnavigation of PEI.
To this point we’ve had to deal with a lot of ouch combined with gratitude to our bodies for keeping us going strong. A standout for me is the intimate daily viewing of the changing of the seasons. Fall is my favourite season so the opportunity to see it come to life in PEI, then potentially back in Ontario was a main reason for choosing the month of September to take on this challenge. We couldn’t be happier with our choice; no bugs, amazing weather and apparently the 75% rise in occupants on the island in the summer leave after Labour Day weekend.
The scheduled break after Day 4 was great timing. Blisters were bad, along with shin, ankle and general ouch all over. This is what makes you stronger, stress you body, recover, do it again. The body is actually super resilient and will tell you what it needs. We are amazed everyday how we can end a long hike and feel like we’re falling apart then eagerly ready to hit the trails the next morning after a good sleep.
Day 5 to 8
The next 3 days were a treat on the Confederation Trail for the first time during our hike.
We kicked off our day with Kelly and Cyrus at Samuels Coffee Shop in Summerside. The lovely woman we met yesterday at Evermoore, Christa, put them up for several days and even drove them to points as needed. We were all in great spirits and yakked the whole way past our next Waypoint sign. We actually completely missed the Waypoint sign and just kept walking. On this trail you don’t need to think about cars or roads, it’s a super flat and well maintained trail surrounded by trees and farms. It’s the old railroad line and PEI bought the land to turn into an ‘End to End’ trail through the middle. We are doing a circumnavigation so we’ll only be on it part of the time.
We hiked over 30km and were already 6.6km into Day 6 mileage. Kelly decided to continue until she found a place to stay, we found out later she went all the way to the next Waypoint sign before finding a place to pitch her tent.
It bugged us not having a picture with the sign so we had our driver go back so we could get a picture, no luck. Rhonda, our driver, planned to do some investigating and we would reach out to #TheIslandWalk. It’s funny how these signs become a goal each day and how important they are to our mindset and game plan.
Day 6 on the Confederation Trail was lovely and shorter but we were already feeling we needed a change of scenery from the flat, long, straight trail. We needed something to see ahead, the potential for coffee shops. Day 7 was more of the same but we had now done 68.5km on unchanging trail. Our entertainment came from people, they were starting to recognize us from social media.
We have a ‘Do Epic Shit’ sign attached to the back of our backpack and it catches peoples attention for sure. Not many islanders know about the ‘Canadian Camino’ created during the pandemic yet so they haven’t thought about walking 700km. We watch their faces go from listening intently to processing and usually spitting out something like, “Better you than me”. We get it, we have those wishful thoughts still. To make them smile we ask them, “What do you think we’re doing tomorrow?” – Yup, Walking!
Day 9 to 12
Day 9 was my favourite day so far! Felt strong and walking the lonely coastal roads with a soul loving view had healing powers. All the farms and horses along he way kept us entertained. Today we found a cadence and being able to leave when we wanted in the morning helped us finish early so we had great recovery time. Our backpacking friend did a couple of double days so she’s up ahead but would be coming through Alberton. We had a great visit at our new ‘home’ with a proper good bye. We spent 5 days with her and Cyrus 6+ hours a day, we feel they’ve become our Island Walk family.
Over the next 4 days we walked up the coast from Miminegash, then to North Cape with the awesome Black Marsh trail and back down to Alberton through Anglo-Tignish. I cannot imagine there being anything more beautiful to see than North Cape. Red sand dunes meeting with a sandbar between the Northumberland Strait and the Atlantic Ocean. This day will stay with me forever, we took it all in staying for hours to make sure we walked on the beach, watched the tide recede and even found coffee in the remote but open gift shop.
These 4 days we stayed at a treasure of a B&B call La Petite France in Alberton. We would meet other hikers at our wonderful breakfasts and share foot, mileage and waypoint sign stories. The other tourists were curious to listen but didn’t dare break into the conversation. I think they were trying to process the crazy. Hearing hikers talk about spending 30 minutes each morning on their blisters is enough to make anyone ask, “Why?”! We get it, we ask this of ourselves every single day.
Day 13 to 15
We’re back on the Confederation Trail for 3 days crossing paths with dozens of people we’ve met along the way. There is always a selfie and talk of others we’ve met and how they are progressing. It is very nice having The Island Walk Facebook page as a connection point to others currently walking, cycling or eBiking the route.
We left The Home Place in Kensington with our bellies filled with the most amazing breakfast and walked country roads from Kensington to Cavendish. The route was one I would do all the time if I lived in the area. The simplicity of life, watching the farmers tend their manicured fields, enjoying a picnic along the road, coastal homes and animals along both paved and red dirt roads was the ultimate way to get us to the halfway point. It might have been all the hills in this area that made us feel right at home testing our legs for hopeful future mountain challenges.
Finally a day we were both in a great spot together in terms of our aches. Don’t get me wrong though, we spend 80% of our time happy and laughing but after the daily miles are done it’s all pain management and relaxation. We took ‘proof pictures’ and did a silly video at the halfway Waypoint sign then sat in the grass waiting for our driver, singing, laughing and hi-fiving. This was a great feeling!
Maybe we can finish it? Was there ever any doubt? Lol Yes! We played our well trained mental game (do not do this!), it’s not the healthiest approach, in fact could be dangerous. It is a miracle 2 almost 60 year youngers who were terribly naughty and didn’t train with structured walks, have some health challenges and extra weight are still very much still in the game. Our mental strength got us to this point, now our bodies are where they should have been when we started. Let’s call it training-as-we-go.
We had to believe in ourselves, our pains are subsiding, now it’s all about finishing what we started.