Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hike Hitching PEI


[August 2o1o]

we left the campground with hopes of catching a ride to Borden, the town at the PEI end of the Confederation Bridge. and hopefully before sunset. we walked east from Cavendish to the number 13 highway, which seemed to be the route most traveled for heading south. a highway though it is, it's really just one big long rolling country road.

it was a beautiful day for walking, warm and sunny with the occasional cloud to relieve us from the intense rays. it was slightly after noon by the time we were outside the town limits, thumbs out and ready to make some distance.

first we tried the good ole standing beside our packs with our thumbs out method, for maybe a half hour or so before we got antsy waiting. since it was so nice out, we decided to hike and hitch, our favourite way to get around.

it didn't take long to get to Mayfield. an hour actually, and still no ride. no big deal, we were enjoying passing all the cows and horses. they aren't used to seeing people travelling down the road on foot, so they would all gather near the fence to watch us walk by. another hour passes and we hit New Glasgow. definitely time for a doobie break.

no ride offers yet, lots of stares and people going out of their way to drive all the way on the other side of the line to pass us. one bunch of twentysomething guys in a pick-up slowed down to flip us the bird. come on now PEI, that's not very hospitable for the east coast!

suppertime rolls around, and we're still on foot. and probably a good few shades darker from roasting all day in the sun. it's not easy to moderate your sun exposure when the cool breeze feels so nice. the PEI dirt visor i picked up in Charlottetown was probably the best 15 dollar investment i made the whole trip.

we've made it to hunter river. there wasn't much for food around so we hit up a Circle K store for some sandwiches, and some canadian made 'beaver buzz' energy drinks for a boost. it felt good to be walking, but all i could think about was making it back to the mainland. from where we are now, it would take us another full day of walking to hit the bridge. our first ride up to Cavendish, we are beginning to realize, was very, very lucky. i do remember someone telling me how difficult it is to hitch on the island, but i didn't think it would be THIS hard. acceptance sets in, we're definitely walking to the bridge.

a whole new set of arm muscles have made themselves evident from walking hours on end with our thumbs out for each passing car. sometimes 15 minutes would pass and no cars would drive by at all. i don't even remember seeing a single police car all day. not gonna give up though, we had our thumbs out for every car to pass, and our peace signs ready for all the bikers. bikers love us backpackers, always encouraging us along on our adventures.

the day was filled with rolling hills and long stretches of highway and potatoes. 2 kilometers up, 3 kilometers down. hills and valleys as far as the eye can see. actually, it was a crazy feeling to be standing on one hill top and see the next one in the distance thinking... wow that's a long way to go. and then make it to the next hill top and look back thinking... holy crap i can't believe we've walked so far. over and over again.

we start seeking a place to set our tent. it was still too early in the evening to pull over when we found an abandoned shack on a hill. it would have been a sweet stop for the night, but we were both too stubborn to quit steppin yet. we see a sign for hartsville soon enough, and have passed half a dozen sweet spots to stealth camp.

it's almost an hour until sundown, time to get serious about setting up camp for the night. okay, sweet looking camp spot found, mosquito infested like most of the others, good thing for the tent screen. who knows what could be over the hill though, we decide to walk to the top of the next 'up' to evaluate our uptions before settling in. if it looks no better than what we've found, we walk back. no harm done.

all the while, we still have our thumbs out, barely expecting that anyone will pull over. it's just a reflex at this point. you hear something coming and the thumbs go out instinctively before we even get a chance to turn around and look.

and then it happens. a ride. a man was on his way down to the bridge anyways to pick up his son in Borden, the very town we've been trying to get to all day. after walking for hours it's easy to appreciate rocketing forward at super speed- or at least thats what it feels like after our turtle pace. oh right, we had picked out a camp spot... now the sun is setting, we're heading towards the bridge and have absolutely no plan from here.

we make it in time for the shuttle, realizing the temperature drop now that we're right down by the water. four dollars each to take us back to the mainland. the information centre on the New Brunswick side is also the shuttle office, so the front door is open to passers through. that's just it though, you're welcome to pass through, but we were warned by a shuttle frequenter not to get caught spending the night or pitching a tent there, which is actually smack dab in the centre of the Cape Jourmain National Nature Reserve. one big-ass wetland.

the Confederation Bridge is simply massive. there's a lookout path under the bridge that you can follow along the shoreline. we hit it up in seek of a place for the tent with no avail. the vegetation in this area is super dense if not a marsh, and we turn back towards the highway for one last shot at finding a camp spot.

we end up settling right at the foot of the bridge, in a shrub covered grassy patch facing the sea. we heard the ocean waves rolling into the cliffs below, mistaking it for thunder at first. either way it's sound signals caution, another storm is rolling in. the bridge really does look amazing all lit up at night, like a highway into heaven.

it was windy as fuck. we chanced a night without the tarp this time because our tent spot was barely big enough without the tarp. we decided if it does start to pour, we'd simply throw the tarp over and tuck it under us to keep us from getting soaked. it's rough trying to sleep, but at least we made it back to the Brunswick.


  1. a lot of sun too. i can still recall the burn! well worth it though, it truly was amazing walking weather. there's so much to sea when you take it slow!