Saturday, September 14, 2019

Baldwin Road to Tracadie



Last night it went down to 4°C. Since we still haven't picked up our winter gear that is hopefully waiting for us in Charlottetown, this meant last night was way too cold for sleeping. Added to this, we were camped beside a marsh, so everything was completely drenched in morning dew - both inside and outside the tent :(

 

As we slowly made breakfast with frozen fingers the sun peaked above the trees, and the world began to warm up slightly. With warm coffee and oatmeal inside us, and the temperature rising bit by bit, we began to pack up. As we did so, the birds began to wake up and great the new day as well.

 
 
 
 
 

It turned out this morning was just as busy and interesting bird-wise as last night was.

When we finally set off down the trail we found ourselves walking through a beautiful pastoral setting. Many of the fields had been ploughed, leaving blond and green stripes that complimented the red, white, and grey shingled barns. The leaves were just beginning to turn, adding red highlights to the backdrop behind drifts of yellow, white, and purple wildflowers. Red and yellow apples, clusters of juicy orange berries, and the occasional brightly colour mushroom brought colour to the trailbed.

 
 
 

At one point Sean stopped to photograph a barn, and a man wearing overalls and a straw hat drove past on a buggy drawn by two beautiful light brown horses. It seemed completely peaceful and perfect.

 
 
 
 


There were still quite a few trees down on the trail, but generally the going was a bit easier (we counted 56 that had to be circumnavigated over 32 km today). Around noon we passed the Peak Golf Course, which looked beautiful, but had obviously lost a lot of trees in the storm - it looked like a small logging operation was going on. We made a quick stop at the Peak Tee Cafe to refill our water bottles and enjoy a plate of PEI French fries. The red soil of PEI is known for the high quality potatoes it produces, and the fries here are often never-frozen and delicious.

After the quick break we continued on through a more forested landscape, where we saw some truly huge mushrooms!

 
 

As with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island hasn't looked entirely how we thought it would. The rolling hills came as a surprise to Sean, neither one of us imagined the island to be as covered by trees as it is. To me, the most surprising part is the pockets of spruce bog and marsh we cross that have nearly all the elements of the Boreal landscape of Newfoundland, from the Pitcher plants, to shrubs that look like Labrador tea, to the cotton grasses. The only difference is that the trailbed, and the soil, are red.



Just before we reached Mount Stewart, the trail took us along the edge of the Pisquid River, which is a sanctuary for migratory birds. We paused at one of the conveniently located picnic shelters and watched as a Belted Kingfisher hovered high above the river by rapidly flapping his wings, before diving down to catch a fish. He wasn't very successful, so we got to watch his repeated attempts for quite some time. We also spotted a Great Blue Heron fishing at the waters edge, an American Crow flying straight and fast overhead, and lots of gulls circling high in the sky, just below the clouds.

 
 
 
 
 

Before we entered the town we walked through the Mount Stewart Wildlife Management Area, and we crossed a bridge over the Hillsborough River. This was a very big, deep, fast moving estuary with a lot of power in it. We stopped on the bridge to watch a group of immature Bonaparte's Gulls fishing in the water. There was another Great Blue Heron fishing, and several ducks flying past overhead, although too fast and high for us to identify them.

When we reached Mount Stewart we came across a very interesting and creative looking place called the Trailside Music Cafe and Inn. The cafe offers live music in the evenings, and tonight Sue Foley was playing. Sadly, tickets and reservations were required to attend, and the show was sold out.


We did however stop at the In the Mix Bakery to refill our water and purchase a small bag of homemade cookies. The place smelled delicious, and it was delightfully warm. In some ways today felt extravagant, with both fries and cookies.

We had been planning to camp on the side of the trail a few kilometers west of Mount Stewart, in what we mistakenly thought from the satellite image was a forest. It turned out to be a beautiful marsh on the banks of the Hillsborough River. It stretched on for several kilometers, the cattails waving in the breeze under a dynamic sky filled with swirling clouds.

 
 

Although this section of trail was stunningly beautiful, it offered nowhere to camp. The railbed was elevated with steep slopes on either side, and either marsh or dense spruce forest at the bottom. We continued on, but when we left the marsh behind we found ourselves in a stretch of houses, and the trail ran very close to the highway. We walked and walked, but the camping situation didn't seem to improve. In addition, it was beginning to spit. We decided to suck it up and walk to the Confederation Trailside Tourist Grounds, which is an RV park and campground on the far side of Tracadie - just over 30 km from where we began.


What we found when we arrived was a unique setup that reminded us a lot of the Camino. There was a big central common room in a building with a kitchen, dart board, sofas, and washrooms. There were people cooking some amazing smelling food in there when we got there, and throughout the evening more and more people seemed to arrive. Everyone, including the owner, were super friendly, welcoming, and nice -treating each other and us like family. We shared stories with a few people, but after walking 32 km we are too tired to stay awake for long. It is windy, cold, and raining, but we are left with a feeling of warmth.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely to hear more detail about your adventure through Peakes and Mt. Stewart! And now on to Charlottetown. :-)

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