Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Halifax to Wood Islands, PEI

Today was a big day for us - with our arrival on Prince Edward Island we began province #3 on our hike across Canada!

The day began early when we caught the Alderney Ferry from Dartmouth across to Halifax. It was a beautiful, calm, sunny morning, and the tiny passenger ferry was about half full of people heading in to work. It was almost hard to believe that only a few days ago post-tropical storm Dorian was stirring up the harbour with high winds and heavy rain.

 

We walked along the boardwalk at the water's edge, enjoying our last moments in Nova Scotia. We stopped for a quick resupply at the Atlantic Superstore, which was clearly still restocking after the storm, and then visited the Post Office. After that we boarded a Maritimes Bus bound for New Glasgow.


The bus trip was like a tour down memory lane as we revisited many of the places we've hiked during the past few weeks, and were able to recognize individual buildings and crossroads. Covering so much distance in a matter of hours made us remember words of wisdom spoken by Soren. Someone asked us why we chose to walk, instead of bicycling or driving across the country. We said something inocuous and ill thought out in response, but Soren said that in his experience this was the only way to actually see things. He was right. Even on a bicycle, the smaller details of nature fly by too quickly to be noticed.

 
 
 


The bus dropped us off in New Glasgow, and from there we made our way to the Caribou Ferry Terminal in Pictou. At first we were confused, because we couldn't figure out where to purchase our tickets. It turns out that you only pay when you leave the island.


The ferry to PEI was quite small, with two vehicle decks, one passenger deck with a cafeteria, and an upper outdoor deck. We were the only walk-on passengers, and we had to wait while the crew conducted a fire drill. We boarded before the vehicles, which filled less than half of the available spots.

The ferry ride to PEI took about 75 minutes. We had taken this route previously, but neither one of us remembered it too clearly. As the ferry pulled away from the terminal and left Nova Scotia behind it passed a stretch of beautiful beach, which was thick with gulls, among them Greater Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls.

 
 




As we crossed we were never out of sight of land. We could still see the dark rolling hills of Nova Scotia behind us, even as the red cliffs of PEI grew larger in front. As we approached the island white and red buildings took shape, and birds became visible on the red sandy beaches. There were flocks of Double-crested Cormorants, and many many gulls standing, sleeping, and moving around on the sand. Just before we reached the terminal in PEI we spotted a group of Northern Gannets circling above and diving into the ocean. As we watched, we noticed a school of what looked like dolphins riding the waves below them.

 
 
 

As we approached the ferry terminal we had a lovely view of the Wood Islands Lighthouse. This is one of 63 lighthouses on Prince Edward Island, 37 of which are still active. This island has the highest concentration of lighthouses in any state or province in North America.

 
 
 

We took a few minutes to walk over to the lighthouse and explore the grounds. As we approached we noticed seven Great Blue Herons fishing in the tiny cove next to the ferry dock. I think maybe this island has one of the highest densities of Herons in the country as well!
 
 
 
 
 

From the ferry we walked the short distance of road up to the Information Center. The Confederation Trail begins right behind the Center, and we stopped in to ask a few questions. We knew Charlottetown had sustained a lot of damage from Dorian, but we weren't sure how the rest of the island fared. It turns out a lot of people are still without power and water, and the provincial parks are still all closed for a few more days at least. We asked about camping on the trail, and the quality of drinking water from lakes and streams on the island, and whether there were any recommendations for camping given the recent storm damage, but the very friendly lady we spoke to didn't have much information on these topics. She was also unaware that the Confederation Trail is part of the Great Trail, and suggested we might need to return to Nova Scotia if we wanted that trail.

 
 
 


Only slightly daunted, we decided to walk a few kilometers down the trail and find a spot to camp. We were tickled to see a sign at the fancy gate to the trail informing us that we were 6,000 km from Vancouver! This seems weird, given that we've walked nearly 2,000 km by this point - only three times more this distance and we reach the Pacific? Hmm.
 
 

The trail is a beautiful, flat, grassy path lined with trees. Quite a lot of trees and branches were knocked down by the storm, some of them on the path. We found a small spot to pitch the tent, and settled down for the evening. As we made dinner we listened to a flock of very excited Black-capped Chickadees, a Blue Jay, and waves of Canada Geese flying over.


Although today was sunny and warm it feels like fall. We have finally begun our third province. A new adventure awaits, and we are eager to begin.

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