Written by Bernie Brunino
I needed to get out of the house. The on again / off again Covid restrictions were really taking their toll. The hiking plans that I’d laboured over in the early stages of the pandemic went for naught when health uncertainty in Europe just didn’t give me the comfy feeling I needed to take a trip there. And so, the search started for a hiking trip in Canada. I came across a brand new walk (which is always intriguing) and in PEI (a province that had done a masterful job of controlling the spread of Covid).
It only took a few minutes of research for me to make up my mind that The Island Walk was going to be my next trip.
After a considerable number of hours planning, the result was that I would spend 15 nights with a proper roof over my head and 17 nights in a tent. Packed up my gear and I was off to Charlottetown.
I don’t know about everyone else but the feel of the weight of a backpack and a comfortable pair of hiking boots just gives me such a natural high. Day one, sun is out, sky is blue and I’m on top of the world. Day two the rain begins with the remnants of hurricane Ida and if that wasn’t bad enough, this was followed by the remnants of hurricane Larry. Needless to say, the camping portion of the trip I’d planned weren’t looking so good – thank you Mother Nature! With the continued rain and wind, it was quickly obvious that camping was not going to be a viable option for a while, if at all. One of the best sources for help available to me (or any Island Walker) was the Island Walk Group Chat. Once I posted that I was looking for accommodations and the area I was walking in, I had many responses to which B&B”s were in the area, whether they offered a pick up/drop off service, if restaurants were available in the area, etc. With a few phone call’s, emails, it didn’t take long to secure accommodations. After a long day of walking in the rain, it was good to know I would have a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in.
This trip offers a nice variety of walking routes. Whether its on the Confederation Trail, the red dirt roads, the sandy beaches or the paved roads (yes there is some of that as well), the combination of all is what is needed to give the Island Walker a good perspective of what the Island has to offer. Walking the beaches (low tide a necessity in some cases) is a great break where you can take off your footwear and either cool off by walking along the shore or massage the soles of your feet by walking on the sand. And, it is not too difficult a walk even for those who aren’t accustomed to walking long distances day after day. An added bonus is that the signage on this walk makes it almost impossible to get lost. Allows you to walk without constantly wondering where you have to turn next.
For me to say that circumnavigating PEI was a great way to see such a beautiful province is only repeating what many others posting their comments have already said. It went far beyond that.
That fact that my accommodation plans all went out the window was a minor inconvenience that was quickly remedied. I soon found that hosts of the B&B’s, Inn’s, Cottages, etc. are some of the most genuine, friendly, sincere people I have ever met. Most of these people I would never have met if my original plans had materialized. Doreen at Bryanton’s B&B in Kensington offered to let me keep my camping gear (8lbs of equipment that I was carrying but not using) at her place and that she and her husband would drop it off to me in Charlottetown when I finished). I took her up on her very generous offer and she had my gear back to me when I reached Charlottetown. Colleen at Tignish Inn who I called at the last minute because it was pouring rain and I was looking for a place to stay. Not only did I get a room, she came to pick me up. Lisa and Paul at Briarwood genuinely want you to enjoy the property and make sure you are comfortable. Liz and Sandy and Siren’s Beach. These two wonderful ladies still make me chuckle to myself whenever I think of my stay there. (My wife joined me for a week on this walk and we stayed there together. My wife absolutely loved them both). Liling at St. Peters Bayside Inn, another generous lady that offered to pick me up and drop me off as part of my stay. I actually met one lady that I was unaware had closed down her B&B. When I called to see if I could get a room, she told me she was closed. But, realizing there was nothing else in the area, she allowed me to book a room for a night. I could go on and list everywhere I stayed but this gives you an idea that it’s not just a “check in and check out” relationship. The hosts want you to be comfortable and will do what they can to help you. So, maybe the rain forcing me to change my plans wasn’t an inconvenience or bad luck at all. It could be that I was destined to not only see the beauty of the Island but also the beauty in the hearts of those that offer accommodations while on this trip. If that was the case: Mission Accomplished!!
“You never can tell whether bad luck may not after all turn out to be good luck” Winston Churchill