(as told to Island Walk team member, Laura MacGregor)
Pat MacDonald is a self-described outdoor person. In the summer months she enjoys walking, and when the snow flies, she replaces her hiking shoes with snowshoes to log kilometres year-round.
As an Islander who summers on the Eastern shore, she began hiking The Island Walk on September 23, 2023, with the goal of completing the Eastern section before the end of October. Twenty-one days later she did just that, crossing the bridge from Stratford to Joe Ghiz park on Halloween day. Never one to sit still, a week later she was back on the trail with a new goal, she wanted to complete the entire 700-kilometre trail before a milestone birthday in two years.
During a recent phone call Pat admitted that she would love to hike daily, or even every other day, but life is busy. And now that she’s completed the section closest to home and the distance to travel to subsequent sections continues to grow, hikes and shuttle drives require more intentional planning. But she’s determined to finish the entire trail, and considering renting a place on the Northern Shore so she can spend a few days walking more distant sections of the trail.
She hikes on her terms, averaging ten to twelve kilometres per outing rather than walking the longer section distances of 20-25 kilometres. She enjoys regular stops along the trail to enjoy the scenery and eat her snack or lunch. The front steps of local churches are her favourite resting place. There, munching her peanut butter sandwich, she has met other Island Walkers and even Camino pilgrims.
Like women of any age, Mrs. MacDonald often hears that she is brave and courageous for walking alone. But she admits that has never felt unsafe hiking The Island Walk. She loves the solitude and peace of the Confederation Trail, and her favourite walk so far has been the section of the trail extending from Mt. Steward to St. Peters, where she was able to see water with every step. “I’m a true Islander. I love the water. And I love that I never know what I will see next.” Indeed, Facebook posts of her journey show painted pumpkins, Halloween decorations, and even an ancient television propped on a tree stump.
When asked what she might say to other locals considering hiking The Island Walk her response was an enthusiastic, “I’d say go ahead and do it! Doing the Island Walk has offered the chance to visit parts of the Island I haven’t seen.”
Congratulations to Island Walker Pat MacDonald for completing the Eastern Section of The Island Walk. We’ll look forward to celebrating with you again when you circle back to Mt. Stewart to complete your journey.