It’s called an adventure for a reason. The unusual, exciting, potentially hazardous experience of taking on grand initiatives can be filled with the unexpected.
Day 17 – Bayview to Cymbria – 28km
We were on a major high after such an amazing day yesterday hitting the halfway point, both in such a great spot physically and on the happiness charts. Today we marched and danced from the Waypoint 16 sign to Cymbria and it gleefully started with coffees in hand. Going into PEI National Park we met 3 veteran distance walkers and kept pace while we chatted up a storm about all their great walking experiences around the world. Gasp! Big breath. They were speed walkers and we almost barreled past a major lookout. I don’t think there will ever be a time when we’ll be all about the pace and finishing time. Nature is my joy and taking it all in is the motivation. Heck, even my fastest marathon ever I took a selfie with 2 police officers in the last kilometer as they were telling me off Lol.
The trail today took us alongside the coastal Gulf Shore Parkway so we had several cars stop, honk and jump out for pictures. It kept us laughing and inspired most of the day. We got to hike from Cavendish through North Rustico to Cymbria, stopped for a ‘feet fix’ at a picnic table in Rustico and chatted with tourists fascinated by what we were doing and witnessed with humor our feet covered in duct tape (the best solution for us). We walked the fishing piers, had a wonderful seafood meal and PEI ciders at Captains Cove Cafe in Rusticoville which we believed to be only 4km from the end. It was not.
What goes up must come down argh! We ate and drank too much thinking we were almost done. We also took advantage of a rare shopping opportunity to stock up for a few days with heavy groceries thinking we had 1km to the sign. The mind plays games with your body when the end isn’t where you think it is. As it started to rain a car pulled over and asked if we wanted a ride cause that’s what they do in PEI. We told her we were almost done and the sign should be around the next corner. Famous last words.
It would’ve been nice to enjoy the beauty of the ‘road from hell’ but we were way too focused on our sore feet and burdened backs. Every corner we were hopeful until our bodies were yelling at us. There came a point, heads down, no words spoken, as my Adventure Buddy tromped ahead. I could see he was in a state and wanted to save me. Turns out he called our driver exasperated, “how @#% far are we from the sign?” The answer wasn’t what he needed to hear so he told the driver to come find us.
Today was 28km and already 4km past the stated mileage, tomorrow now had a 2 Waypoint sign goal.
Day 18 – Cymbria to Dalvay – 24km
We woke up with a fire in us today as our driver took us back to the scene of yesterdays meltdown. High five and ‘the finger’ to the Waypoint 17 sign then we danced our way through Brackley Beach, Stanhope and Dalvay by the Sea. What a fabulous day!
We like hiking in the rain so we took in all the crisp beauty of Fall, bird activity and sounds of nature. We began early with the motivation of highly recommended delicacies just before entering Brackley Beach National Park. OMG was The Dunes worth the effort! We were transported to another world for a couple hours.
The sun came out, we were energized and out came the music as we made videos. We only met cyclists today and one very focused on speed flew past us then circled back 15 minutes later to ask us with a bit of attitude “What are you doing that’s Epic today?”. Another opportunity to tell a PEI’er about The Island Walk as we watched him ponder our commitment, he was notably impressed.
Doesn’t get much better than this day! The tough days only magnify these days, we hit 2 Waypoint signs today and Bryson Guptill (creator of The Island Walk) commented on our post that they would measure the section since they had added a road to the previous days walk. Happy to help avoid meltdowns for future Island Walkers. It’s a happy day conquering 2 Waypoint signs today.
Day 19 – Dalvay to Mt. Stewart – 26km
Today we went back onto the Confederation Trail after 8km of country roads. Have to be careful doing so many miles on the same side of roads due to the road slant causing issues with right foot and leg. Things you’d never usually need to think of.
There is a big storm coming and it seems to have scared everyone off the trails. We are noticing the locals boarding up windows and putting away their outside furniture. Our hope is we don’t get cancelled by our hosts tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
The Confederation Trail is straight, flat, monotonous natural beauty. The good thing is you don’t have to be focused on traffic and bio breaks are private but the problem is there are no landmark targets or corners to look forward to conquering. We make our own fun, this is when we start singing so it’s a darn good thing no one else is within earshot. We surpassed the Waypoint sign by 3km so we could walk to our B&B directly off the trail. It will be good to have a head start on the storm tomorrow.
27km added to total 443km in 19 days.
Day 20 – Mt. Stewart to St. Peter’s Bay – 26km
The gale force winds are scheduled to start tonight. Bishop’s Rest, our B&B, is rushing to put all their stuff away. We have 24km to ping off today into St Peter’s Bay. After a great breakfast we head into the rainy start of the storm back on the Confederation Trail.
Mount Stewart to Morell our motivation is to dry off and enjoy a big lunch at ‘Holy Cow’. Little did we know this would be our last proper meal for 3 days.
It was 4 hours before we saw humans and what a surprise as we got closer, it was Kelly and Cyrus! They had found safe haven in Morell and taking a few days off. What are the chances we’d meet up while they were out for Cyrus’ bio walk? Hugs and safe wishes as the winds were starting to pick up.
The portion the Confederation Trail between Morell and St Peter’s Bay was the most beautiful we’d walked and we had it all to ourselves. The sweeping views of bays, coast, farms and the changing colours of the season kept our eyes engaged in awe and picture taking making the miles pass quickly. Before we knew it we were standing at a windy Waypoint 20 sign in St. Peter’s Bay as our wonderful host Doug drove up to the sign.
We were getting weather alerts all day saying this could be the worst storm in 50 years. PEI is understandably nervous. We are happy to have safe haven away from the ocean in a ground floor unit.
We are safe thanks to our saintly hosts, Elizabeth and Doug of Cable Head Suites. I cannot imagine living through a hurricane, hosting 2 couples and sustaining so much damage to their home. To give you an idea of the wind all day, in the morning there was a large shed in their yard, in the afternoon it was gone, no evidence it ever existed.
The wind was relentless for over 20 hours and the storm didn’t break until Saturday night. Power was lost by 9pm Friday, no internet, water, cell or news. That’s the thing about being in the center, you can’t actually find out what’s going on, we had no idea the devastation. There was a state of emergency so bad the army was called in. For those based in Toronto, it was a true state of emergency, not just a snowstorm.
The first picture is Fri at 5:45pm. The next picture is 14 hours later at the same spot, Waypoint 20
Day 21 – St. Peter’s Bay fallen tree loop – 15km
We had to try. The weather was beautiful and sunny and it was time to stop sleeping and go see if it was possible to continue. The most Epic walk of our whole journey. 15kms just hours after the Hurricane took us almost 7 hours to complete and ended with my first hitchhiking experience in the back of a tree clearing truck as we passed the devastation along the highway.
The aftermath of Fiona had devastated everything around us. We decided to start on the official route being the Confederation Trail and exhausted ourselves with the over, under, around game for 6 unbelievable kilometers. 1000s of trees and hydro poles pushed over like dominos. We crossed farmers fields, detoured to dirt roads, then hit a insurmountable roadblock. We’d have to backtrack and find a new route home.
It didn’t seem fair for us to continue but our minds weren’t fully there yet having come so far, our bodies were now walking machines and finishing would be much easier then the early days of this adventure.
The emotion of the whole experience was everywhere. Our hosts at the brink of tears from worry about the aftermath, needing time and space to recover and the issue of power and gas, not knowing how long it would take. The nature of PEI’ers is such that they would use their gas, food, resources to help keep us afloat to their own detriment. This was appreciated but played greatly on our empathy, we were mentally moving away from our goal because it was the right thing to do although hard to accept.
Then our host for the next 3 nights showed up at the door the next morning. She used her precious fuel to come from North Lake to tell us in person there was just no way she could take us given the devastation of her hotel, windows blown out, no power, the restaurant was down, buildings disappeared.
Decision made, we would divert to Charlottetown and assess the roads on the drive. It took all of 5 minutes. Mouths open in disbelief, devastation beyond our imagination all around us. Whole corn fields were scooped up prior to harvest, forests toppled, 200 year old trees lifted out of the ground, RV’s upside down, roofs in fields. Like nothing we’ve ever seen.
It was very clear working backwards to try and finish would not work. In fact, 3 weeks after that decision the only part of the trails not accessible are the sections we had to complete.
Fiona was a category 4 hurricane that hit the Eastern shores of Canada causing unprecedented damage. The worst storm in Canadian history with the lowest pressure system ever recorded.
Over a glass of wine eating a steak dinner in the one block of Charlottetown restored, we created a plan to come back in 2023 to complete our mission. Things happen for a reason. My Adventure Buddy wasn’t so thrilled about this big goal but it was ‘my milestone challenge’ so he did a great job of hiding his apprehension. He turned a corner, my ‘boytoy’ loved it so much he had now turned it into his milestone challenge and cannot wait to come back to PEI in 2023. #60rising
The other good thing is we know where all the good food is .. and coffee shops!
It took Hurricane Fiona to take us down. 485 km completed in 21 days
Our hearts go out to the Maritime provinces. The aftermath of Fiona will be a long recovery but we have now seen your amazing strength and community spirit first hand and know it will be an impressive shared effort.
It’s an adventure we will never forget! Thank You PEI
5 thoughts on “Prepare to be Blown Away”
WHAT a story Karen. I have a very busy day, but am so glad I took the time to read this. I’m glad I did and to know that you’re safe. To the next adventure!
Sarah, thanks for following along and your concerns. Cannot wait to return to PEI in 2023, there will be another adventure before then though it’s a big milestone year after all. Cheers!
Fatima and Michael Szklarz
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Hope to see you on the trail! We’ll be the ones with the ‘Do Epic Shit’ sign.
You’re going to love it! We’re back in Sept for unfinished business, finishing Sept 10th.