5 simple joys this week

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m feeling a connection to Robert Lewis Stevenson lately as I make plans for fall. I’ll write about those in my next blog post but, for now, I just want to share thoughts on appreciating recent simple joys.
We’ve had a week of exceptionally warm weather and sunny skies in Prince Edward County (though that 25º C already in early May is more than concerning). Nonetheless, it did lift my mood and reminded me of small things that can make this life a joy.

I find it easy to let these simple delights slip by unnoticed and in hard times I feel it’s especially nourishing to appreciate them.

Guilt free gardening

We decided last year to abandon growing a food garden after over 20 years of doing so. It’s easy to feel an obligation to do things just because that’s what we’ve always done, isn’t it? But if there’s no longer joy in it, that’s okay. Let it go! Now, other than garlic and basil, which my husband plants, I’m growing flowers.

I’m grateful to have friends who do still grow food and often share the bounty, and to have small scale organic veggie stands nearby to buy produce as fresh as if I grew it.

A Sacrosanct Morning Routine

Quiet, slow mornings. Sun streaming in.

Warm oatmeal in the bowl my husband made back when he was a potter, years ago. Coffee, hot and black, in a cup my son brought me from Australia. A bit of reading. Writing in my journal. And, of course, cats. I’m deeply grateful every morning for this slow start.

Pulling out a favourite piece of summer clothing

Though I have a very small number of clothes, I still like to store the handful of winter and summer items away each season. As the warm weather arrives, that makes pulling out a few favourites a real treat.

And every year, I seem to be able to part with at least one more item!

Connecting again

I’ve been teaching art classes and it’s been such fun to share that passion with others after a long break. At home, I continue to create.

I send out watercolour cards to connect through the mail. I’m teaching a dance-fitness class once a week, too. Dancing with others to a motivating playlist is pure fun! And on May 1st, I went to an outdoor May Day gathering and march in Kingston. International Workers Day is important and I had missed being out in the streets with likeminded leftists.
I realized recently that I am not as social as I was pre-pandemic and I don’t know that I ever will be again. That’s fine, too. I’m sure I’m not the only one that will be forever changed by what we’ve all been through these last couple of years.

Books

I honestly cannot imagine my life without books. I’m currently reading a couple of good ones: All We Want: building a life we cannot buy by Michael Harris and a novel recommended by a friend, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka.

Have you been noticing simple joys in your days lately? I hope you have and, if not, that you might think of doing that this weekend.

Until next time (I plan on posting again very soon about something I’m excited about!)
Christine

Revelling in a slow spring while making plans

If Sam Cooke is right and ”a change is gonna come”, it can’t be soon enough. But it is happening. Each day we’re inching closer to our longed-for spring. It’s slow, but in that time we are given days to plan and opportunities to go outside to restore a balance we missed in the dark of winter.

For me that has also meant getting back into the woods for hikes. Paths are offering up budding greens and the chorus of spring peepers. It’s about both my accepting the slowness while welcoming change and opening my mind to starting anew. To trying again at goals that slipped away before.

I’m not ignoring that things aren’t what we might have once called normal, and the world can all be overwhelmingly heart heavy at times right now, but spring is keeping its promise, at least.

With April comes my annual marking of another year around the sun. It’s a time when I’m on the lookout for new adventures. I gave that some serious thought on my recent hiking getaway to Sharbot Lake with a good friend.

In addition to hiking, I painted, wove a wallhanging, and shared meals and conversations. So restorative!

I’ve since been looking in to what my next long walk will be after my 714km trek last fall. September is when I intend to do something similar. I’m looking for a journey that will have me walking daily, pack on my back, continuously for about a month. Meanwhile I’ve recertified as a fitness instructor and began teaching classes again. Staying healthy and fit has become more of a priority with each birthday!

In May, I think I’ll do some sort of 30 day challenge for myself. These make a bit of a game of things I’d like to accomplish. I keep them simple, doable, and fun.

Are you making plans while spring unfurls around you? I hope so. It seems the ideal time to restore ourselves and grow.

Thanks, as always, for reading this and stay well,
Christine

New Hiking Video at new trail!

In keeping with the idea in my last post of finding joy in tough times, I celebrated Spring with a little out of town trip to a new hiking trail.

I hope the short video of my hike might inspire you to get outside for more than a regular walk, and to venture further into new territory, especially a woodland trek.

It was still snowy where I walked, but I could feel the spring’s energy advancing, and the invincible earth popping up here and there in sunwarmed patches. There were so many birds chirping and little critters running about, trees as tall as the sky, and moss covered boulders. What a gift that hike was!

Do, if you can, search for a new place to hike, pack a snack, strap on a backpack, and head out for an adventure! Here was mine this week.

Stay well and hike!
Christine

Ideas for joy in dark times

The world is in a dark place. It’s hard to not let it overwhelm you. That’s why I haven’t written a post in a while. It’s a struggle to feel relevant. But I’ve been trying to surround myself with supportive activities and it’s helping a lot, so I thought I’d share what I’m doing in the hope that it might do the same for you.

Still finding joy in long walks in nature. Sandbanks Provincial Park is a favourite.

Make Plans

Having something to look forward to has been huge in keeping me sane lately. Sure we should live in the moment – yadda, yadda – but sometimes the moment isn’t enough.
Having something special to look forward to in the near future gets me out of bed. Make some plans. Small or big, for tomorrow, this week or in two months, it doesn’t matter. Just make them.

Get Away

Getting away isn’t something everyone can do, I know, but even traveling a few miles to a new place can be balm for our weary souls. You don’t have to leave the country or spend a lot of money either.

For example, a friend and I are going to a cottage a couple of hours away to spend a weekend hiking new trails, reading, stitching, painting, and relaxing in new surroundings. It’s not free, but when you look for deals and share the cost, it’s reasonable.
My no-buy-low-buy year, which I talked about in a previous blog post, has saved me money that I can use for “doing” rather than “having”.
You can also take a break from the everyday by visiting a friend or family at their place for a day or two. A change of scenery and catching up after the long absences from pandemic times fosters positive vibes. Maybe plan something really simple to reconnect. Recently, I brought lunch to a couple of friends at their workplace and we shared a meal and caught up on each other’s news. I felt like a new person afterwards.

New Creative Outlet

Newness is key! Do something you’ve never done before. I learned to weave!

As things are starting to open up, I’m slowly moving back out into the world, and I’m grateful for opportunities to learn new things. I’m lucky to have a friend who weaves beautifully and offers workshops (that’s one of her looms above). Recently, I hosted her and some friends at my place and what fun that was!

Check out Stashfibres on Instagram and facebook!

Take a workshop, or learn something from a friend, take up a new project in your house, or do anything that is new! I’m a fan of YouTube video for tutorials to get started.

You can DIY a little loom of your own like this and experiment. You never know what you can do til you try!

Revisit goals

This is traditionally the time of year when I lose motivation and it’s hard to summon the energy I felt at the beginning of the year. That’s why I make a point of sitting down and assessing what I’ve done so far, and what I need to tweak. I do this monthly, but did a deep dive for March.

Let go of things that aren’t working, or that you thought you wanted to do, but actually don’t!

Focus on what you still want to have happen. I like to carve out a plan with timelines and tracking methods. Some things are going well. My no-buy, low-buy year is really saving me money and keeping me from bringing things into my life that I don’t need. I’m still walking daily. Of course, there are things I haven’t kept up, but that’s fine for now (falling behind on decluttering and household improvement projects come to mind). But I do want to get to those, so I’ll start again and focus on that next month.

Learning my boundaries

When the news on the radio brings you to tears as you’re driving, or reading about war, the housing crisis, and the destruction from climate change has you wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep the days away, know that you are not alone. Sitting with these emotions when I can, rather than continually trying to circumvent them is something I’ve been working on – difficult yet necessary for me – but so does knowing how much I can take. Set boundaries.
Seek help if you need it, and at the same time, protect your mental wellbeing in all the ways that you can control. I’m not talking about toxic positivity of the pull-yourself-up-by-your bootstraps camp. It’s not a resiliency contest! At the same time, I know mindset matters. I just keep telling myself, do what you can, when you can, with what you can. And enjoy life, without guilt. We can still find the beauty we need to thrive, if we seek it.

Stay well, until next time,
Christine

Being more creative by consuming less: this is what happened

So grateful for my creative flow these days. I’m filling hours with experimenting, contemplation, and joyful process. And some surprisingly satisfying work has appeared. In part, I credit this unfolding of creative energy with four changes I’ve been cultivating this year.

1. Consciously consume less. I don’t mean less stuff (though maybe my minimalist living is subtly shaping things?) but rather I’m looking at a different type of consumption; namely less input.

By filling my days with more reflection and less social media, less online content, less television, less marketing and less news, I am noticing a boost in “aha” moments and an easy ebb and flow in my creative practice. There are more connections.

Since the start of the pandemic, for example, I’d been following more artists than ever on Instagram, looking to their work to inspire or motivate me. And, of course, I saw amazing work, but seeing so much was crowding out space for my own ideas to take hold. Examining how I felt after viewing such perfection, my confidence ended up taking a hit as well. This is clearly an issue I need to work through, but I can’t be the only one who feels this, can I?

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

A secondary problem with consuming too much, is the time it eats up. Time I could be, actually, making things! Equally of note, it drained the hours I needed to cultivate my own thoughts and nurture my original ideas. But this gradual decrease in consumption and the positive changes it brought didn’t happen immediately. It took a while. Which leads me to change #2.

2. Give it time and space

While I knew consuming media was taking up time, I also realized that I couldn’t just stop and force creative change. It needed dedicating time and space, allowing the give and take of non-structured time, like going for a walk, daydreaming, chatting with a friend, to replace outside influences.
I know the danger waiting for inspiration, however, or to “feel like it” so once I’d taken a break for a couple of days, I committed specific and serious time to creating.

Habit is persistence in practice.”
– Octavia E. Butler

After experimenting, I’ve identified when I work best with each medium and it made a difference. For example, I can’t work well until after my well loved morning routine.

Painting, embroidery, crochet, collage and any making of tangible objects, I do best in the late morning and afternoon. Writing I can do in the evening.

3. Create the rituals and environment for creativity to flourish. I hadn’t realized how much my environment and rituals around my creative practice affect me until I began to experiment with these. I’m fortunate to have a dedicated space to work. And because I’m most content in a clean, uncluttered and organized space, I make the time to keep it that way.

Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn’t scare you, doesn’t shut you down. It should make you want to be there, and once you find it, stick with it.
The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp

Natural light is crucial for me. If I work in the evening, I make sure I have a good light source as well, though I just burn candles if I’m doodling or planning a project. Music can be nice. If the project doesn’t require deep concentration, I might listen to a podcast or an audiobook.
Sipping water all day keeps me hydrated and I try to remember to take a stretch break if I’ve been sitting too long.
All materials I’ll need for a particular project, I organize and prepare before I begin. I’m easily sidetracked, so if I need to go search for an item, I might well end up in another room, looking through photos or cleaning out a closet!
Lastly, I don’t have notifications on my phone turned on. I may put my phone in the other room if I really want to get things done.
The modern world wants from us. It wants our money, our attention, and our energy. In both obvious and subtle ways, it pulls and pushes us. Keeping this front of mind helps me foster a greater sense of deliberateness, curating my attention and consciously filtering distractions and inputs.

4. Accept failure and move on. Oh, and have a plan B!
Some days, I produce crap. It happens. There’s a lesson for me in every mistake I make, though, and in every disappointment. I am learning to ignore the negative voices in my head and learn to say, well, that’s s**t, and not make it about me but the piece. This is not easy.

So play your favourite cover song, especially if the words are wrong, ’cause even if your grades are bad, it doesn’t mean you’re failing
Ukulele Anthem – Amanda Palmer

I remind myself that the joy of making is so great that even on the worst days, I know that tomorrow, I’ll wake up and want to do it again. And this is when I need plan B.

Plan B is this: If things didn’t go as well as I’d wanted, at the end of the day, I put all my materials away, including the unfinished, disappointing piece (if I haven’t decided to just trash it!), then clean up my space, and set it up for a fresh start the next day. Leave the space. Do something else. Go read a book, call a friend or go to bed.
Tomorrow is a blank slate to get creative, and I could not ask for more.

Below are a few recent pieces, and I’m also working on a video on this topic with more pieces. I’m hoping to have that on my youtube channel soon.

Thanks for reading to the end.

Stay well,
Christine

Making my own watercolour sketchbooks for hiking trips.

Motivation to get walking!

No habit has been as undeniably transformative to both my mental and physical health as the simple act of walking every day.

If you want to positively impact your health and life, this is that one thing that can make all the difference. Sticking to it is easy, too, once you feel the benefits. You won’t want to miss your daily walk once it’s a part of your life.

How to form the habit

1- Start small but serious. Be consistent.

This is key. It doesn’t work if you only walk occasionally. Begin my making a commitment for just one week and walk every day. No matter the weather (within reason, of course – it’s about -15C as I write this!), and just walk 15 to 20 minutes at first, but it needs to be every day. This is especially crucial in the beginning. Make that commitment to yourself.

2- Change up the language. We often say, I don’t have time. To avoid this excuse, I change this up. I remind myself that being healthy and taking care of myself is important and when I’m about to say, “I don’t have time”, I instead say, “It’s not a priority.” Admitting what I’m really telling myself helps me decide that I need to make the time, and to get out the door.
And instead of “I have to go for my walk”, I remind myself, “I get to go for a walk!”

I am so thankful that I am able to go for walks and never take it for granted.


3- Mood follows action. Don’t wait to be inspired or to “feel like it”. Just go for a walk to change how you feel. Walk 15 minutes to start. Then do it again the next day. Add 5 or 10 minutes at a time so you eventually walk 30 minutes each day. In a week, I can pretty much guarantee that you will be so glad you did it and that you’ll feel better. I have never regretted going for a walk.

4 – Prepare in advance. Think about where you might like to walk and when. First thing in the morning, or after work? Before the kids get off the bus? Right before dinner? Get your gear ready. Dress for the weather. Lay your stuff out the night before if necessary. And if you commit to the morning, and it doesn’t work, go later.
I read an interesting study that while setting a certain time to do something helped stick a habit, some flexibility with timing is important. This is because when people were inflexible and they missed the schedule time, they figured they missed the chance that day. Others who were more flexible just found another time and made it work.

5 – Make it fun. Walking is a reward in itself but make it something you look forward to. Meet with a friend for company. Or listen to a podcast, an audio book, or some motivating tunes. Or just daydream as you walk off the day and stress. Devote walking to maybe working out a problem. Work up a plan for how you’ll accomplish something or an upcoming vacation or adventure.

You can also create small challenges for yourself to stay motivated: an extra 5 minutes every few days or a different route each week.
I find tracking things keeps it interesting. You can record your walks and distances, who you walked with, and where. It’s fun to look back and see the progress.

I do it on paper, but I also use an app on my phone called Sports Tracker. It’s free. Last year, for example, I can see that I walked almost 3000 kilometers!

Surprising research about walking

  • It boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season – and yes, from Coronavirus, too. In a study of nearly 50,000 people published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, lead author Robert Sallis, MD, explained how important regular physical activity is to health during the pandemic and beyond. “Walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week at a moderate pace,” he said, “and that will give you a tremendous protective effect against COVID-19.”
    Another study from Harvard Medical school of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
  • Boost creativity. Anyone who wants to increase their creative juices might want to consider this: In a Stanford University study, researchers found that walking boosted creative output by a whopping 60 percent! And because walking pumps more blood and oxygen throughout the body—including the brain – many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion like a walk, people will perform better on tests of memory and attention.
  • Creates new connections between brain cells. Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience correlating movement later in life and synaptic and cognitive aging, proved that walking on a regular basis promotes new connections between brain cells, staving off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age. It also increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them. “Physical activity relates to better cognitive aging and reduced risk of neurodegenerative disease,” the study also stated.
  • Helps with having a healthy weight and suppression of weight-promoting genes. We know that regular walking can help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight, but more surprising is evidence from a Harvard study that walking “counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes.” Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
  • Improves mental health and sleep. There’s lots of evidence that increased physical activity can boost your mood thanks to feel-good endorphins. But further, a 2015 study demonstrates that walking can significantly ease depressive symptoms. And because I know that when I have struggled with my mental health, it seemed to go hand in hand with my insomnia, it helps to know that walking helps me get the sound sleep I need. I have definitely found that, after years of struggling with being awake half the night, my sleep is so much better now that I walk regularly. Studies, again including one from Harvard, showed how walking also boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin.

I find it amazing, truly, that something as simple and easy as walking can have such wide ranging positive impacts.

If you’d like to see the 5 minute video I made while out on one of my daily walks, this is the link to it on my YouTube channel.

As always, thank you for reading.

Until next time,
Christine

3 Great Books

No pastime enriches my life as books do. I could easily recommend hundreds by which I’ve been entertained, educated, and enthralled, but I thought I’d start with these three, for now.

The Consolations of the ForestAlone in a cabin on the Siberian Taiga by Sylvain Tesson

Originally published in French as Dans les forêts de Sibérie, the English version is the work of the award winning translator Linda Coverdale.


This is the diary of writer, intrepid traveler-philosopher Sylvain Tesson’s six months, from February to July 2010, when he lived in extreme solitude in a wooden cabin on Siberia’s Lake Baikal. A memoir rich in reflection as well as humour and adventure – he scales a 6,000 foot mountain, canoes, skates, walks 80 miles and sleeps overnight on the edge of a cliff – it immerses us equally in enviable pastimes of reading classics, writing, and drinking a fair amount of vodka.
His experiment in isolation conveys intimately through evocative storytelling the struggles and heights of joy he experiences. I found even his practical opening chapter on what he packed for the trip surprisingly interesting. It made me create a mental list of what I would take for such an adventure.

“The Heinz company sells around fifteen kinds of tomato sauce. The supermarket in Irkutsk stocks them all and I don’t know which to choose. I’ve already filled six carts with dried pasta and Tabasco. The blue truck is waiting for me; it’s −26° F outside, and Misha, the driver, keeps the engine running. Tomorrow we leave Irkutsk and in three days will reach the cabin, on the western shore of the lake. I must finish my shop­ping today. I decide on Heinz Super Hot Tapas. I buy eighteen bottles: three per month.
Fifteen kinds of ketchup. That’s the sort of thing that made me want to withdraw from this world.”

An absolutely joy to read, especially in the depths of winter, it’s a reminder that we might need to “sit at the window drinking tea, allowing the land to ripple through its nuances, letting oneself steep in the passing hours, no longer thinking of anything, but suddenly seizing a passing idea and jotting it down in a notebook.

It’s no surprise that The Consolations of the Forest won the Prix Médicis for nonfiction in 2011. This is a link to a video of Tesson with footage he shot during his time at the cabin.

The second title I’m recommending is Solitary – Unbroken by 4 decades in solitary confinement. My story of transformation and hope by Albert Woodfox. When I finished this book, I came to the realization that I need to read more by people like Albert Woodfox.

Locked in solitary confinement for one of the longest stretches ever served by a prisoner, he fought for 40 years to clear his name for a murder he didn’t commit. A candid narrative that is equally heartbreaking and angering, it’s a story that adds to the damning evidence of the cruelty of incarceration and the racist, corrupt industrial prison complex. But to read it is to be equally awed by the strength of the unbreakable spirit of this man.

“In my forties, I chose to take my pain and turn it into compassion, and not hate. Whenever I experienced pain of any origin I always made a promise to myself never to do anything that would cause someone else to suffer the pain I was feeling in that moment. I still had moments of bitterness and anger. But by then I had the wisdom to know that bitterness and anger are destructive. I was dedicated to building things, not tearing them down.”

“Reading was my salvation. Libraries and universities and schools from all over Louisiana donated books to Angola and for once, the willful ignorance of the prison administration paid off for us, because there were a lot of radical books in the prison library.”
“I would check off these books on the library order form and never expect to get them until they came. Leaning against my wall in the cell, sitting on the floor, on my bed, or at my table, I read.”
“Every day I had to find that strength. I had to find within me the will and determination not to break. I got those qualities from my mom.”

This book is available at the public library in Prince Edward County (you can do a Request for Purchase as I did for this one at most public libraries if yours doesn’t have a copy on the shelves) or obtain it through interlibrary loan from another library.

Anarchism and its Aspirations by Cindy Milstein

I’m often surprised to find so few people understand what anarchism actually is, which is why I’m including this little book. At its core, anarchism opposes all forms of oppression, including patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, state communism, religious dictates, gender discrimination, etc., while promoting mutual aid and self-organization in all spheres, including work. Many might be surprised to learn that Helen Keller, Ursula LeGuin, Oscar Wilde, Howard Zinn, Tolstoy, Thoreau, Albert Camus, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Noam Chomsky, Edward Abbey, George Woodcock, and Alan Moore, to name just a few are, or were, anarchists.


Anarchism and its Aspirations is a book that helps grasp the beauty of this political philosophy and movement, and its potential for a better world for everyone. Written by the gifted wordsmith, Cindy Milstein, the short work illuminates, through accessible essays, the far reaching potentiality of a truly democratic, free, responsible, and caring society.

There are other good primers on Anarchism but what I particularly like about this one is how it blends some important history with contemporary movements and answers common questions. It’s also concise, which makes it a fast read for those just curious and a handy reminder resource for anarchists.

“Anarchism has to remain dynamic if it truly aims to uncover new forms of domination and replace them with new forms of freedom, precisely because of the ever-present strain between personal and collective freedom. Self-organization necessitates everyone’s participation, which requires being always amenable to new concerns and ideas. Yet when people are introduced to anarchism today, that openness, combined with a cultural propensity to forget the past, can make it seem a recent invention—without an elastic tradition, filled with debates, lessons, and experiments, to build on.
Even worse, it can seem like a political praxis of “anything goes”—libertine without the libertarian—without regard for how one person’s acts impact another person or community. It is critical to understand anarchism’s past in order to understand its meaning, but also its problems and shortcomings as well as what we might want to retain and expand on. We study anarchist history to avoid repeating mistakes, but also to know we aren’t alone on what has been and will likely be rocky, detour-filled “paths in utopia,” to borrow the title of a Martin Buber book.”

I have a copy of the book and am happy to lend it if you live close by, but it’s also available in its entirety online here .

As always, thanks for reading my blog!
Christine

How to be Content vs just Happy- 5 ways

There’s a lot of searching to ”get happy” out there. But happiness isn’t a sustainable state. Unlike the emotional and temporary state of happiness, my goal is to create a satisfying life through the relatively constant and longterm view of contentment. That’s why I nurture it instead and below are 5 ways I do that.

Learning from cats: contentment is a steady state for a beautiful life.

Firstly, I want to explain what I find both empowering and freeing about contentment versus happiness. It’s the concept of having enough and “being enough” to cultivate a deeply engaging, enjoyable and purposeful life (this is always a work in progress for me).
Of course, I’m not against being happy! Happy is fun, but the things that might make me temporarily happy are not a foundation for a meaningful life.
So here are things I’ve learned and continue to work on so far.

Take risks and accept failure as a possibility
There are ways of being in this world that are enriched by exploration, possibilities and self expression, but it requires risk taking.

People will judge you and your choices. Do it anyway. I’m not formally educated in art, for example, but have been a creative person all of my life, writing, drawing, and making all manner of things with my mind and my hands.

In this world of experts, formal education and credentialism, it’s easy to feel unworthy of a creative life. Ignore that beast.

Do it all. Fill your days with all the beautiful, the messy, the incomplete, the mistakes, and the risk-taking you can handle. Put your work and yourself out there if that’s what you want. Climb the mountains, make your choices. People who care about you will cheer you on. Others don’t matter.

Stop caring so much what others think
It’s difficult not to worry about what others will think of you. Insecurity, I realize, is what feeds my anxiety about people’s opinions.

Recognizing my insecurities has improved my decision making. In the past, my actions might have been guided not by what I really wanted, but limited or altered by what I imagined the response to those actions would be.
Of course, I still care to some extent in that I don’t want to say or do anything that would hurt anyone, but I realize that being overly accommodating, or attempting to live up to unrealistic expectations – real or perceived, my own, or otherwise – is detrimental. Over the past few years, I came up with a simple question that helps me better understand my motivations. “If no one knew I would be doing this, would I still want to do it? Would I still write, paint, protest, raise hell, help out, take this risk, or even want to own certain things?” When it’s a resounding yes, I’m on the right track.

I am stronger than I imagined
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation,” wrote Viktor Frankl in his seminal work, Man’s Search for Meaning.

Highly recommend!

Life is unpredictable. Hard on the heart, often unjust, enraging and confusing. People can both amaze you with their kindness while others will hurt you, sometimes deeply. Cultivating a strong support system of loving friends and family, knowing you can ask for help, protecting mental health through self awareness and creating boundaries are all ways to foster resilience. Humans can be astoundingly strong. We can and should be allowed to crumble at times, certainly, but we have it in us to come back and start again.
“In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl

Embrace Aging

In our youth obsessed culture, the best kept secret may be that getting old is gold.

Unfortunately, we usually don’t realize it until we get there! There’s immense freedom in caring less about things that don’t matter and focusing on what does that comes with age. As a parent, partner, daughter, worker and active community member, I was too busy it seemed to truly reflect on my days. Getting older has given me clearer perspective and I’m consciously embracing each day.
Regardless of your age, I highly recommend the book Better with Age: The psychology of successful aging by Alan Castel. It’s filled with inspiring and surprising research about aging. In fact, I wish I had read it when I was much younger.
Getting older – worth noting that this is happening every day even if you’re young now and never think about this – is also when we might more seriously consider our physical health. We only get one body to carry us through. I would have taken better care of mine sooner if I’d realized how much I still want to do!

Focus on what’s important

I’m teasing out what’s important from the less so. I’m learning to: let go / cherish beautiful memories / process and reconcile those that need to be worked through / shelter bonds that matter from minor injury / do all I’m able for others / keep my wellbeing in mind but aim to preserve an open heart.


Quoting Frankl again, “I do not forget any good deed done to me and I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”

That’s it for today. I’m writing my next post already, which will be lighter, with more practical content and I’m working on another video, too. Please stay tuned.

As always, thanks so much for reading this.
Christine

I made the video aka vlog!

Well, I did it! In my post a couple of days ago, I said I’d maybe try to make videos or podcasts to accompany my writing and increase accessibility and I managed to do it.
Basically, it complements what I’d written, and I elaborated a bit on the content of the blog, including a peek at some recent things I’ve made.

This is the beautiful scarf I mention in the video. You’ll learn more about it when you watch!

It’s my first first attempt at this type of thing, and simply shot on my iPhone 7, recorded straight through with no edits except for a title. Nothing fancy but here it is!

If you like the video format, you can subscribe to the YouTube channel which, like the blog, is entitled It’s just me Christine. You won’t receive emails or any other notifications by subscribing – so no additional stuff in your mailbox- but it will make it easier to find when you go to YouTube.

That’s it for now. Thanks as always for reading. I hope you have a great rest of the week and can make time to get outside for a walk today.

Christine

Positive Challenges in 2022

How can I – and we – still enjoy life in these tough times? How can I be a better human and contribute something despite the pandemic? These are questions I said I’d explore when I wrote my last blog post. Now, in this second week into 2022, here are some ideas.

My way on these things is that I tend to drift like a kite in a sky of possibilities before I eventually lower my gaze to where I can, in reality, begin.

My typically unwieldy ideas need to be reeled in and then steadily released with tweaks to adjust the tension so these goals may be altered with time. It’s a process that works for me and, like all processes, it takes intention and attention.

In 2021, luck graced my plans and I met most of my goals, but who knows if 2022 will be so kind? In the past, when I couldn’t seem to do what I’d set out to accomplish, it was often due to unclear goals, as well as lack of systems and habits and, frankly, my own attitude. I’m not saying I have this all figured out, but I have learned 2 things: I have to be clear as to the ”why” of my wants and I have to keep it interesting. I feel I’ve figured out the “why”, but the ”how to keep it interesting” is what’s prompted me to weave weekly, monthly, and yearly challenges into my plans for 2022.

In the Goal Setting workshops I’ve taught over the past couple of years, I’ve determined that psychology, habits, and so forth are meaningful, but it’s achieving and recognizing (through tracking or documenting) small wins along the way, and always looking for new approaches, that have given me the best results. So these are 3 challenges that I’ve set so far for 2022.

Challenge number 1: Low Buy/No Buy

Upping my frugal game is partially motivated by lack of employment right now, and I know I’m not alone. But frugality is also satisfying to me. I could write an essay on why I’ve always been frugal, even when I earned a decent income. I could provide evidence of how our addiction to buying stuff is unhealthy for people and planet, capitalism is an inhumane economic system, how we’d all be better off working less to have more time and fewer possessions, etc., but for now, I’ll keep it light (you’re welcome 😉 and say simply that January is my No Buy month. That is, no purchases other than groceries. In the following months, I’ll limit my purchases to one item or, better yet if possible, none other than food. I’ll report in future posts and let you know how it’s going and what purchase I do make, if any.

One way I stay frugal is to use up what I have and DIY what I need. I had this cotton craft yarn gifted to me that I used to crochet 6 dishcloths.

Challenge number 2: Continue Wellness/fitness Practice
This one seemed so easy when I first wrote it down, but yesterday it was -18ºC and as I write this, it’s freezing rain out my window.

Some days, it’s not easy to get out the door! But after my 714km Island Walk in PEI last year, I long to do another or a challenging hike, so I must train to meet that goal. No details yet as to where my next adventure will take me, but when I decide, I’ll let you know.
Consistent strength training needs to be injected into my routine this year, as well. Sarcopenia, age-related muscle loss, is a natural part of aging, and resistance exercise is the most effective way to prevent and reverse it. After age 30, you begin to lose 3% to 5% of your muscle mass each decade and on average, people lose about 30 percent of their muscle power between ages 50 and 70. I don’t want to be a bodybuilder, but I do want to stay as independent as possible as long as possible and hike well into my old age.

Challenge number 3: Daily Creative Practice and Sharing Monthly Creative Projects
Another challenge that seemed easy at first glance (creating is a natural part of my life), is growing a consistent art practice. Consistency is the challenge. The battle is keeping at it when I’m in a slump, and to finish projects. So at least 5 of 7 days a week, I’ll dedicate at least an hour or more to a creative project and I’ll finish at least one bigger project a month. I don’t know about you, but I have a few unfinished projects!
I want to share pieces I create, like cards, as a way of staying in touch with people, too…just a little something positive for folks to find in their mailbox.

That’s it for today. I’m thinking of making videos and/or podcasts similar to, or to supplement, these post to increase accessibility to content. It’s still an idea up in the sky, but I’ll see if I can reel it in.

Until next time, have a great week!
Christine

Let’s not write off 2021

I invested hours in what I sometimes felt were shallow pursuits in 2021, especially considering the state of the world. I decluttered my house, obsessed about simplifying my life, wrote lists of goals, read books on creating habits, tracked and documented all types of mundane activities, and worried likely more than necessary about my health. My anxiety about not doing enough or doing the wrong things compared to what others were doing, (I have activist friends who still do so much that I am in awe of them!) had me resort to endless youtube DIY’s for distraction. I curated my social media from negatives that affected my mental health. When I think about this now though, I realize that all of it helped me get through a difficult year.

In that way, if anything we are doing works to help us cope, and it isn’t harmful to anyone, than we need make no apologies about any of it.

Finding purpose also made this year tolerable, even joyful. My 714 kilometre Island Walk in PEI that raised $7460 for an art program at Lennon Recovery Home, felt meaningful.

Challenging myself, soaking up nature’s offerings, and then blogging each day of that journey, created connection in myriad ways. That was incredibly sustaining and the fundraising support from everyone was balm to my searching soul. I guess my goal setting wasn’t as shallow as I’d thought after all!

I admit, it’s hard to sustain this level of engagement pandemic-year over pandemic-year. At the same time, I am ready to do it all again. And like a muscle that you’ve been using, building strength and endurance, I think it can get easier to lift the heavy load. We can and are getting better at it. We’ve come so far and learned so much. We need to keep reminding ourselves of that. Friends, so many of you have been inspirational to me by carrying on through it all. I want you to know that!

Reflecting on the past year, despite all the losses and devastation, 2022 lies ahead with beautiful possibilities. I am trying now to harness energy to focus on purpose. What can I do this year? How can I still enjoy life? How can I be a better human? What potential lies untapped? Where can I foster the strength I’ll need? How can I contribute to making others enjoy, as Mary Oliver writes, our “one wild and precious life”? These are the questions rolling around in my head and which I’ll explore in my next post.

Please follow the blog if any of this is of interest and share it with others. I am hoping to rely less on social media in 2022 to distribute my writing. I also intend to delve into a wider variety of subjects. By following here, you’ll simply receive an e-mail whenever I upload a post, which I think will be about once a week in 2022.

Meanwhile, I wish you all a Happy New Year’s Eve, filled with love, hope, and purpose.

Christine

Finding joy right now

If we each created a list of our joys, they’d likely be as varied as they are familiar on this December 24th. Are any of yours similar to these?

A the top of the list, of course, would be time with many loved ones, but since that’s not possible this year, here are a few simple things I’m doing to invite comfort and smiles.

Creating for others and myself

I send only a few cards, some handpainted, to different friends each year. My goal for 2022 is to send more cards and letters randomly throughout the year, as a way to stay in touch.

Finding beauty in simple things.

I haven’t put up a tree this year – though I might yet! This beauty is my daughter’s.

Cherishing memories

Found in my mom’s things when she passed away was this sweet note from her friend. Staying connected is timeless.

Crafting from found and natural materials

I like folding things
And growing things, to make other things.

Bringing the light into the Dark Winter

Never too many candles.

Nordic countries have a lot to teach us about making the most of winter, including bringing light inside, and embracing hibernation along with the restorative time colder months offer us

And always, walks in nature.

I hope you find joy today. These are hard times. Hang in there. There is still beauty to be found, and brighter days ahead.

Christine ❤️

P.S. A Xmas memory I wrote a few years ago will be read on 99.3 Countyfm today. You can stream it from here, if interested. You can also read it on a blog post I wrote back in 2016.

More pirouette than pivot: 4 things I just did

It’s more a pirouette than a pivot we’re being spun into right now (I officially hate the word pivot!). But what I’m choosing is more akin to skanking and stompin’ in order to call up joy and strength in light of current pandemic news. (Link to awesome skanking at end of this post.)

So here’s what I’ve done in the past 24 hours to help me get on. I’d love to hear what others are doing as we change our plans to keep ourselves and each other safe and healthy this holiday season.

1) I moved furniture around and made my place a bit more functional, cozy and aesthetically pleasing -well, to me in any case. Environment matters. It’s easier to be a mess when my surroundings are a mess.

I love this table I got from my friend Tara a few years ago that I recently freshened up a bit.
Our harvest table hosted many family gatherings but is transformed into a worktable in a different part of the house for now.

2) I made a list of ways I can still connect with people, and who I want to connect with, in the next month. This includes making and writing cards, blogging, arranging phone calls, and outside visits.

Linocut, handprinted and more Happy New Year goals than Xmas.
Secret doorstep drop offs of little consumable gifts maybe?

3) I planned projects and goals for 2022 that don’t involve others directly. I’ve been thinking about all the things I enjoy doing alone:

Making things, writing, walking, reading (searched out best books of the past year online and then headed to my public library’s website), choreographing aerobic dance classes and baton twirling routines, cooking, and planning an eventual long distance walking adventure.

4) And always, including a daily walk, preferably in nature.

I’ve got some hills to climb
And views to breathe in
I love to bring something back inside to remember a walk. An arrangement like this is free if you’re lucky enough to have access to the woods.

I’d love to know what others are doing. Please share your ideas if you’d like in the comments below or send privately if you’d rather. Oh, and here’s the link if you want to see some super skanking!

Until next time, stay safe and well.
Christine

Reframing the days – aiming for more than just coping

It’s not the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. Like most of us, I’m having to make some damn disappointing choices right now.

Choosing between what I want to make happen and weighing the risks involved is hard. Today I’ve had to choose to cancel teaching the aerobics classes that I was looking forward to doing at our local gym, and I had to say no to a “Soup and Scrabble” visit with a close friend who is feeling just a tad under the weather. I wanted to see her, and I wanted to teach, but with our area at the red risk level for COVID cases, it just doesn’t make sense. These are small things compared to what others may be facing, of course, but the accumulative action of small daily conflicts like these to bigger ones, like dealing with sick friends and family, or not being able to see loved ones at all, is exhausting and detrimental to our wellbeing.

Before the life altering pandemic, and a serious bout of depression along with the death of my mom on December 24th, 2019, Xmas had been the most wonderful time of the year. I loved it so.

But the past two Decembers have been about coping instead. Getting by. This year, I am thankful to be in a better place. Not unaffected, but better. And that has been a process.

So I thought I’d share some things that are helping me.
Much of this is already well documented and proven, yet I admit that I stubbornly resisted it all at the beginning. Strategies, positive psychology, and anything labelled “self help” used to send me right to Skepticaland! But rejection of help – in whatever form – became something I eventually couldn’t afford to dismiss.

To be clear, I’m not advocating for people with mental health disorders to just change their mindset. Having felt serious depression, I know it’s not that simple. But these are things that helped me, that continue to improve my life and make me feel a whole lot better.

Don’t overthink decisions

I can become paralyzed by indecision. Weighing all the pros and cons is key to decision making, but not if it hinders taking action. For example, as I mentioned, I passionately wanted to teach dance fitness classes again, and had this perfect opportunity at a great local facility. But the COVID numbers keep rising in our area and it became about more than just what I wanted and what the others might think of my backing out. It became a decision for what I feel is safest. I re-worked that e-mail to cancel quite a few times before sending it. I’m sure I did overthink it, but not as much as I might have in the past. Now I try to make the decision, act on it, and move on.

Don’t try to ignore feeling bad

When I feel bad – you know, that tightness in your chest, or tears welling up – I let it happen, but in a controlled way. I sit with it and try to imagine it running through and out of me. Visualization works better than trying to push it out of your mind because, inevitably, thoughts harbour there and keep floating back if I don’t give them space and time to flush themselves out.

Negative thoughts versus acceptance

Many thoughts like “things can never be what they were” (which with the pandemic is especially true) swim around my mind. I feel a tremendous ache from the loss of Xmases past. I longed – and still long – for the past sometimes, but I can be logical even when emotional. Yes, things aren’t what they were. But change is inevitable and moving through it is necessary for growth. Find a place for all the good memories because they are still a part of our lives, and should be cherished. Enjoy them in the remembering.

Search for solutions

Consciously rerouting my mental energy from worrying and ruminating over problems to actively searching for solutions has been conducive to healing and happiness. When I begin to worry, I think about how detrimental that is and start brainstorming for solutions. I write down ideas, call a friend to discuss, google it, and start the ball rolling. New adventures, rituals, and experiences await!

Lastly, of course, I have to add, go for a nice walk outside! I find the earth seems to press restorative energy through the soles of my feet and new perspectives find me as the wind weaves itself through the trees. It’s really quite transformative. And while all this might not make it the most wonderful time of the year, it can help make it a much better time of the year.

Until next time,
Christine

I’m Teaching Dance Fitness…again!

In the “now for something completely different” department, I’m going to be teaching three pop-up dance aerobics classes starting next week! Before I get to details, let me tell you about how I got to this – a little retro journey.

In my younger years, I spent many hours in dance classes in Toronto, and a circuitous route eventually led me to teaching dance aerobics. After freelancing, I started my own studio called The Workout, where we offered pay-as-you-go classes.

Our specialty was “Step” aerobics. This was brand new and we were “early adopters”.

Our little studio got very popular, mostly because we created a caring, welcoming community and fun, effective classes.

While I owned The Workout, I competed in the 1993 Ryka Aerobics Championship (oldest participant and managed to make the top 10). Video if interested.
The most meaningful part of that experience for me was winning The Most Supportive Club Award because so many members – so many of whom became friends – came out to the event.

Community – I always say, it’s all about community.

After 4 years, burnout ensued and I couldn’t make enough money to keep going and, well, that’s how things go sometimes.

But, it was amazing while it lasted!

I continued teaching for other clubs and managed a big gym for a while, but it just wasn’t my thing. Plus, I was then pregnant with my third child.

I had my second son, Kevin, a few months before opening the studio.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I certified as a Zumba instructor and taught some in the County, which was fun, but it didn’t last. And now to today. In addition to long distance walking and hiking, and with winter coming on, I thought, “why not also get re-certified as a fitness instructor?” And so, I’ve just passed my Canfitpro Theory Exam for the Fitness Instructor Specialist certification. I also graduated in Fitness Leadership at Seneca College years ago.

My plan, in addition to continuing to maybe doing classes, is to do wellness/fitness consultations in the New Year.

Meanwhile, next week, I’m teaching 3 pop-up classes at the not-for-profit Prince Edward Fitness and Aquatic Centre (PEFAC) in Picton. PEFAC is a great facility with a beautiful spacious studio space with mirrors ans a sprung floor.

I’m teaching Wednesday, December 15th at 4:30pm, Saturday, the 18th at 11am, and Monday, December 20th at 4:30pm. The classes are for all levels of fitness, so if you’re interested, don’t worry if you haven’t worked out for years (or ever)!

You can attend even if you are not a member of the club, but you have to reserve a spot. You can do that online or by calling and booking with a staff member 613-476-7776. You must be double vaxxed, of course, and provide proof with ID when you arrive. We’ll be wearing masks right up until class starts and keeping distance between us.
It’s going to be great fun! It would be awesome to see familiar faces in the class, and I look forward to meeting new folks, too, of course.

Christine

My favourite books about walking, so far

Walking has long been a theme in literature and I love both so this post of book recommendations is long overdue. There are many more titles that I could add to this list, and I will eventually do a part 2 of this, but here are a few of my favourites, for now.

I first enjoyed The Old Ways; A journey on foot by Robert Macfarlane as an audiobook. One late summer night, walking hours around Père Marquette Park in Montreal, I listened on my headphones to the world created by Macfarlane. This rare urban stroll was such a treat. While folks gathered in lively clusters, socializing under cool stars at the end of a humid day in this vibrant city park, I felt both with others and aloneness as the author’s tales, set on Britain’s ancient paths, played out in my head.

After listening to the audiobook, I bought a paper copy of The Old Ways so I can now go back and read my favourite passages. I do recommend the audiobook though, especially if you are walking.
An adventure Macfarlaned recounts on the Broomway – a public right of way over the foreshore at Maplin Sands off the coast of Essex, England – is most memorable. You can read that portion online here.
Weaving natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology, philosophy and literature, The Old Ways is a beautifully written work that takes us on walks not only in England, but the Scottish northwest, as well as Palestine and landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas.
And much of The Old Ways is quotable. “For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?”

The Longest Walk by George Meegan is an amazing memoir of his continuous walking journey of 30,608 kilometres (19,019 miles) from the southernmost tip of South America to the Arctic shores of Alaska. At the age of 24 Megan began his trek which ended when he was 31 in 1983. Other than the mind-boggling distance, it’s worth noting that this was long before cell phones and GPS. Challenges? Oh, he had a few!
The geopolitical situation throughout Latin America made the traveling especially dangerous at that time. Meegan also had very little money and didn’t do much planning. He pulled his cool “yoshi cart” for much of the journey to carry his load, in addition to a small backpack. Yoshiko Matsumoto, his future wife, accompanied him for a portion at the beginning of the trek. He’d met her years before when he was a merchant marine trying to get back to his ship and she’d picked him up while he was hitchhicking. Yosh, as Meegan affectionally calls his partner, was a huge support and walked a few short portions of the journey with him over the years. They eventually had two children and had an interesting post-walk life, as well.

Unfortunately, The Longest Walk is out of print, but used copies are available. You can also get it through Interlibrary loan from public libraries. The audiobook version is available free on the Hoopla app. I couldn’t choose a part of the book that I liked best – it’s all great – but here’s a bit:

“When I had finally saved enough money for an initial stake, Yoshiko came to England to join in the final preparations. Shortly after she arrived in Rainham, however, it became clear that there had been a slight misunderstanding, due at least in part to an error in translation. Dear, sweet Yosh—she had thought all along that we would be going on a bus trip.
After the initial shock wore off, Yoshiko and I quickly adjusted to this new state of affairs—after all, we were in love . . . and Yoshiko had spirit . . . and as for myself, well, I was happy that she was willing to try at all. Numerous decisions and preparations now had to be made, starting with where to begin. Should the walk start at the top and proceed from Alaska to Argentina, or the reverse? Argentina seemed the better starting point, for when my small initial stake should run out, I hoped to be in the richer northern lands. Here I also stood a better chance of recovering my health and strength after completing Latin America, which I expected to be the greater ordeal. This turned out to be not only a rational choice but a lucky one as well, for the alternative route would have placed me, an Englishman, smack dab in Argentina at the height of their war with Britain over the Falklands. A mere roll of the dice, it seems, can determine success or failure.”

Next in line of inspiring books is Born to Walk: The Transformative Power of a Pedestrian Act by Dan Rubenstein.

If anyone can convince us that we should be walking more, it’s Dan Rubinstein. An obsessive walker, writer and editor, he traveled throughout Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. talking with people about the simple, but transformative act of putting one foot in front of the other. Filled with fascinating research, this book deepened my belief that walking can make an incredible difference in our lives and create a better world.

One of my favourite parts of the book is about the author’s experience on the Innu Meshkenu (Innu Trail). Led by Stanley Vollant, the distinguished Innu surgeon from Pessamit, with forty-five fellow walkers aged thirteen to sixty-seven – most from the Atikamekw nation- this was a life changing journey for many. Vollant started the 6,000 km walk to promote the teachings of First Nations and to encourage Indigenous young people to pursue their dreams. We’re afforded a rare look at the walk through the eyes of Rubinstein and conversations with Vollant and others taking part.

A great non-fiction title with captivating stories, and written in an accessible style, Born to Walk will make you want to walk.

Just out for a Walk / Walk, Sleep, Repeat / The Nomad En Suite – all by Stephen Reynolds

These three titles are, by far, the most entertaining series of walking adventure books I’ve read.

Reynolds’s first book was self published, which I didn’t know until I was finished reading it. Don’t let that deter you.
Here we meet Reynolds, an average office worker in Britain, suffering from chronic insomnia, who decides to take up walking. Finding it a cure for sleeplessness, and hooked on regular treks, he arranges a leave from his employment to undertake the 630-mile South West Coast Trail. The famous path circumnavigates the daunting southwestern corner of England. Described as “a grand adventure that takes in 26,719 steps, 921 stiles, 302 bridges, 91,000 feet of climbing and descending, 1 seal, 0 basking sharks, lots of chips and 1 overweight, oversized backpack,” it’s a travelogue that will make you wish you knew this guy so you could hang out.

His other two books, Walk, Sleep, Repeat, and The Nomad En Suite, are along the same lines, but feature different trails.

Walk, Sleep, Repeat has the author hiking 100 miles of the stunning West Highland Way in the Scottish Highlands, while The Nomad En Suite is the one 186 mile trek along the breathtaking Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales. I’m thinking that may be my next adventure!

Part two on great walking books coming soon! If you like the content I write about, please consider following the blog. I’d really appreciate it.

Until next time, stay well.
Christine

Hiking Thousand Islands and streets of Montreal

A visit with my daughter is one of my cherished joys. When I can combine that with some hiking, that’s the best!

Mallorytown Landing, Thousand Islands

Sarah lives in Montreal, which is why I found myself walking around that city. And I take the opportunity on road trips to hike somewhere along the way as well, which is how I ended up hiking in the Thousand Islands area.

Having hiked the Landing Bay trail back in the early summer on another trip to Montreal, and loving that hike, I decided to do another trail in the same area.

The Thousand Island Parkway is a pretty road and doesn’t take you far off the 401 so it’s an ideal place to stop. I thought I’d do trails at Jones Creek but, dropping by the Visitor’s Centre at Mallorytown Landing, I discovered an ideal short trail there and hiked it instead.

Mallorytown Landing Trail
Have a seat on the Mallorytown Trail!

I arrived to beautiful weather in Montreal. This is a great city for walking and I do miss urban environments at times. Even in cities with which I’m familiar, I always discover something new as I walk.

I love Montreal

Watching people, and especially seeing children out and about with daycare caregivers, holding each others’ hands, always makes me smile. My destination on this crisp, sunny morning was the Botanical Gardens.


This is a 5 km walk from my daughter’s place along Rue Beaubien to 28th Avenue.

Tout en français!

Admission to the gardens was free that day – a welcomed surprise! There’s no charge throughout the winter, I learned.
The Jardin botanique de Montréal is 75 hectares of remarkably diverse plant life. Though flowers weren’t in bloom, obviously, the gorgeous park setting offered an oasis of calm in the city.

Trails throughout wound around sleeping plants while towering trees of all kinds stood watch.

There are ponds, sculptures, and enchanting pergolas in the Japanese gardens, along with garden gates, bridges and benches here and there.

I imagine it is even more magical after a snowfall, and I intend to visit again when the gardens are enveloped in a blanket of white and whenever I’m in the city. Total walk was 12.4 kilometres.

On my way back home from Montreal, I did make it to Jones Creek Trails in the Thousand Islands. It was dusk though, so I didn’t stay long and only hiked 3 kilometres.

Good selection of trails from which to choose at Jones Creek.
Nice moon on the way back to the car to drive home.

I’m looking forward to exploring more of those trails on my next trip and discovering some new ones, too!

Hanging out with my daughter was the highlight of this trip!

Until next time!

Christine

Falling and making friends on my Gould Lake Hike

“An absolute new prospect is a great happiness.” Thoreau, Walking

Discovering the trails at Gould Lake Conservation Area last Friday was, as Thoreau wrote, ”a great happiness”.

Well, except for the fall on the edge of an embankment.

No damage done though, other than muddy knees and palms, and a few bruises that didn’t materialize until the next morning. The good news is I didn’t land in the lake!

Gould Lake Conservation Area, part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere, is located near Sydenham, north of Kingston, Ontario.
With 20 kilometres of hiking trails that cross rugged, rolling terrain, through woods and wetlands with stunning waterfront views, it is a gorgeous spot to hike. On the unseasonably warm and sunny October day I went, the conditions were ideal and the trails in surprisingly good shape considering the amount of rain from the days previous.

I chose to hike the Tom Dixon Trail, which runs along the edge of the lake, even though it was a bit treacherous with steep embankments and lots of tree roots and rocks. The views of the lake, however, made it worth the effort.

That’s what I was admiring when a misstep sent me flying, throwing my backpack forward so that my thermos of coffee went shooting from the pack’s side pocket like a javelin! Though the fall was jarring, I actually felt incredibly lucky and laughed out loud once I realized I was fine. But my pace definitely slowed after that!
About an hour into the hike, I found a peaceful spot for lunch on an outcrop of flat rock close to where the Tom Dixon trail connects to the Mica Loop trail.

That’s where I met Stephanie, and her dog, Anderson, who are regular hikers at Gould Lake. The trail markings aren’t abundantly clear and when I asked about the Mica Loop that I wanted to explore, Stephanie invited me to hike that trail along with them.

It was so nice to have company and especially someone who knew the paths and could show me all the best lookouts.
We hiked a little farther on the Tom Dixon trail, then did the Mica Loop which returned to the Tom Dixon. Then we veered on to the easier Wagon Trail back to the parking lot. What a great afternoon!

My next blog will be my recommended reading list of walking and hiking books. I’ve read some great ones over the past year!

Thanks for reading this and please share with friends or anyone you think might be interested in the content I’m producing.
I’d also appreciate hearing what else you might like me to write about. Do you want to hear about the best trails I’ve hiked, how to prepare for a long distance multi-day walk, my favourite gear reviews, my obsessive organization hacks, creating long term goals, vegan recipes for the trail, hiking playlists, favourite podcasts, or something else? Please let me know!

Christine

Video of my 714km Island Walk – and why it’s short

My intention when I first set out on The Island Walk, the new long distance trail in Prince Edward Island, was that I would not only blog here daily – which I did – but that I would document it all on video to upload to my YouTube channel.

Should I stop to video record this?” became a question I didn’t want to keep asking myself.

Three days in, however, I came to a realization. Stopping on the trail to record video, worrying about what to say, about battery back up for my devices, choosing footage, editing, and then uploading it all was completely taking away from the experience that I wanted.

I could stay in the moment snapping a quick photo. Video was much more involved.

Thinking about where I was, and fully immersing myself in the adventure wasn’t possible for me with what became the burden of recording it on video.

That said, I did record my first few days, and captured some beautiful scenery, so I decided this past week to put it together in this short 8 minute video to share.

I watch quite a few hiking videos on YouTube, following hikers who vlog all their adventures, and I enjoy documentaries about thru-hiking. I so appreciate the effort people make to share their experiences. I’ve developed even more admiration for those who can do it as they hike now that I have tried doing it myself! I do see the appeal of sharing the experience, which is why I blogged each day but, as they say, hike your own hike. Writing is more my thing for now.
It’s easy for me to fall into the trap that I must do things when, in fact, I don’t. It doesn’t mean I will never do a video log of a future hike, but everything in its own time. The world will continue to spin, the sun will still rise and, if I’m lucky, I will catch that sunrise and it won’t matter if I record it or not. Another lesson for me from the trail.

More news on upcoming hikes, a writing gig, plans for “work”, and how I prepare for hikes in upcoming posts.
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Christine

Paths to discovery and recovery

October 13, 2021.
It is the end, yet also the beginning.

My long distance Island Walk in PEI is done. The fundraiser closed yesterday. The beautiful ripples of the funds raised for Lennon House, however, have taken root in the most inspiring ways. Your donations made this joyous, supportive art space and programming possible.

Thank you!
We exceeded the goal of $7000 for a total of $7460. Funds are being used for materials, art therapy, artist visits and future programming. Please enjoy the images of the second weekly art therapy session for residents of Lennon House . They have chosen the hard path of recovery from addictions and co-occurring mental health struggles through this caring peer-based support. Their courage and the transformative beauty of creative expression, is here, in action.

Lennon House founder Dianne Young is deeply engaged and the driving force behind this special recovery home.

I’ll be writing more about the adventures that await – whatever they may be – as well as other musings about once a week for the next little while. I hope to see you here again. Thanks for reading.

Christine

Back home after 714 km hike. Now what?

It made me uneasy when I thought about the abrupt end to come of my walking long distances every day for a month. The solitude, the freedom of having all I needed on my back, being surrounded by nature, and making all my own decisions about how far, how long, when to stop, eat, and so forth during The Island Walk in PEI, all these things I experienced would be over. It was anxiety inducing. In equal measure, particularly during the last days, was a desire to be home again.

Current view from my bedroom at home. I’m so grateful for it, in every season.

This was especially so when I achieved my fundraising goal – in fact, surpassed it – of $7000 for Lennon Recovery House, to help folks struggling with addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders. Thanks again – seriously, I can’t thank people enough for your support!

Given this great shirt when I visited Lennon House.

Now I’ve been off trail for almost a week. I have, nonetheless, walked every day except one since the end of my PEI trek. Not 20 kilometres a day or more, but still, walking.

First walk back home on the Millennium Trail.
And the view at Mariners Park, part of a frequent walk to the rock cut on County Road 13, where I live.

I’ve hugged my cats, unpacked, cleaned house, tended to my over 40 houseplants (which all survived because of the care of others, thank you!), and soaked up the warm, fuzzy feelings of being home again. That said, I am already looking at where I will do my next long distance adventure. More on that in a future blog post.

Meanwhile, I have a few projects on the burners here at home.

As always, creating bullet journal pages to plan.

They include:
– putting together a baton twirling brigade for the upcoming Lantern Festival by the brilliant Department of Illumination
– more writing for this blog
– creating a zine(s) about long distance walking
– preparing a slide show and talk about my trek for Prince Edward Learning Centre
– finishing a couple of commissioned paintings
– creating a body of creative work from the long distance walking experience
– looking for employment to fund my next adventures.
I’m sure more will be added to this list as the days unfold.

I’m also slowly getting back to seeing friends and family I’ve missed so much and look forward to easing back in to daily routines. October is a good month for fresh starts and fall is my favourite season so I’m basking in it. Hope you are, too!

More adventures – or projects, for now – to come.
Christine

714 km Island Walk – postscript Part 1

My long distance walking adventure in PEI may be over but my hiking isn’t, of course. And neither are the musings and lessons learned along the way.
One lesson I’m holding is that you just cannot truly imagine what amazing things the world has in store for you.

View from the top of Mont Arthabaska, Quebec. Read on to see why this photo appears.

I had no way of knowing if I would actually complete this long distance PEI trek, The Island Walk. Or that we would exceed the fundraising goal for Lennon Recovery House, which stands at an astounding $7460. Over the $7000 goal!
Or that my beloved community at home in PEC, or that my new found one in PEI, would be as key as they were to accomplishing my goals.
First lesson for me: be open to, and believe in, possibilities.

So many paths yet to walk.

It’s my first day back home in beautiful South Bay. I’m still unpacking, literally and otherwise, so I’ll keep this post relatively short, but I do want to share a short hiking adventure I had on my way home. Whenever travelling, keying in “Places to hike near me” on your phone is a great way to discover places to recharge. That’s how I ended up on the forested paths of Mont Arthabaska in Victoriaville, Quebec. My husband and I highly recommend it!

Be prepared for a few steep climbs. Usually, a nice view is the reward.
Sweet syrup tap lines ran through some of the trails. That’s not something I’d seen on a hiking path before.
Lots of trails from which to choose.
“Le visionnaire engagé” metal sculpture by Surender Kumar Singh was another surprise at the summit.

If you’re interested in Part 2 of my postscript, or in further walking and hiking adventures and what those entail, please consider hitting “follow” so you can be notified via email when I upload a new blog post. That really helps me and I don’t have to rely on social media as much.
Posts will likely be weekly from here on, though part 2 of the Island Walk postscript will be up on the weekend.

Thanks ever so much to everyone who has been reading, donating, and supporting my efforts. Your interest means so much!

More adventures to come.
Christine

Day 30 – my last Island Walk Day!

October, 2, 2021. I dit it! A total of 714 kilometres walked. Started September 3rd and completed October 2nd, without missing a day.


And $6620 raised to date of the $7000 fundraising goal for Lennon Recovery House!
I can barely believe we’re a mere $320 away from the goal. Today I spoke with Dianne Young at Lennon House. They have purchased initial art supplies (which they had when I visited last week) and yesterday, residents had their first class with an art therapist, and, Dianne said ”they loved it”. Already, your donations are making a difference.
The fundraiser began August 12 and doesn’t end until October 12, and I feel confident we will reach the full amount of the goal by then. Here is the link should you like to contribute.
I am overflowing with gratitude to have had the opportunity to have this experience. Moreover, I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped me here in PEI and to the many people back home in Prince Edward County who encouraged me and supported the fundraiser as well. Thank you all so much!
I don’t have much to say about today’s hike as I’m still processing the fact that I am actually finished!
I leave you with images of my last day of the journey. I’ll be taking a few days off from writing while I’m travelling home, but I intend to write more after I’ve had time to reflect on the experience. I’ve also been asked questions related to the walk, gear I carried, logistics, and so forth, so I will write a FAQ type post as well.

I can hardly believe I walked all the way around this island!
It was a chilly start in St. Peter’s this morning.
Bridge views ahead!
These shelters along the Confederation Trail are the best!
Fellow walkers Deborah and John are also doing the Island Walk. Today, they decided to bike a bit of it. It was nice to have a chance meeting on trail and a chat!
Fall kissed ferns.
The last waypoint marker for my walk.
The only glimpse of blue sky all day came right as I finished.

More to come,
Christine

Day 29 – The Island Walk

This second last day of my 700 kilometres walking journey wove rainbows, gorgeous scenery, and the warmth of companionship into my path.

Hint of a great day ahead as I headed to trail.
Friends from home in Prince Edward County! Lindsay and Kelly came to see me on the last day of their PEI vacation.
Lindsay, who shares both my passion for walking and literature about it, joined me for the first 10 kilometres of the day. Time absolutely flew by as we walked and talked! Loved it!
The trail, beginning at Route 323 heading towards Morell, provided lots of pretty views.
A glimpse of a trailside clear water pond reflected trees and clouds.
The Morell trailhead train station provided a nice spot to stop for lunch.
This, at Morell, necessitated an unwelcome 6.4km road walk detour.
On the plus side, I got to be one of likely the first few to walk on the newly constructed Morell road bridge that opened that morning. The pedestrian walkway is a great addition.
6.5 kms later and I was back on the Confederation trail on what is undeniably the most beautiful section going toward St. Peter’s Bay.
Seana, my sister-in-law, jogged 6 kilometres to meet me so we could walk back together. So nice!
Bridge views never disappoint.
And my brother, Rick, along with Finlay and Duncan, met us at Midgell bridge to walk toward my final destination for the day, St. Peter’s.
Splendid shore birds dotted the bay.
The end of my 25.26 in sight. Note the sign for Rick’s Fish & Chips. Yes, that’s my brother’s famous island restaurant!
Waypoint 20 done! Only one day left!

Wrapping up the day, my walk’s fundraiser for Lennon House PEI, stands at an amazing $6,115! Thank you all! Words can’t express how grateful I am.
If you haven’t donated and would like to, or if you just want to learn what it and about the life changing work of Lennon Recovery House, this is the link.

More adventures – actually one more day of it – to come.
Christine

Day 28 – The Island Walk

The sky was threatening rain – and creating arresting images – but only a light mist fell as I set off this morning from the Winter River bridge, which is approximately 3 kilometres past Dalvay, waypoint 18 of The Island Walk.

Best part of starting there, and ending as I did the day before, is this handy facility.
Following a 5km road walk on Route 6, it was like seeing an old friend when I turned left onto the Confederation Trail again, heading to Mt. Stewart.
Immediately before the trail, this sign indicates an interesting option: turn right if you’d like to head to Charlottetown to end your walk, or turn left to continue on The Island Walk. I leaned left, of course.
There were many pretty views along this portion of the trail.
And healthy marshes filled with plant and bird life.
Arriving at waypoint 19 at Mt. Stewart, there is a large shelter with a picnic table, and also a building housing a bakery cafe and washrooms.
It’s also home to the library. It’s too bad it wasn’t open. Anyone who knows me knows of my love of public libraries!

I appreciated the community support that seemed to be thriving at this location, from the free products in the bathroom (you deserve it, period!) to a basket of fruit for the taking by the library door.

It was great to have my husband join me for a bit on trail today.
Continuing on a few more kilometres, I ended my almost 24 kilometres day at Route 323, locally known as Cherry Hill Road I believe.
My walk today.

When I finished, I was so happy to come to my brother’s and his family’s home where I’ll be staying for these last 3 nights in PEI.
Saturday, I will be walking the last section of my Island Walk journey, from St. Peter’s to New Zealand, along the Confederation Trail.
Special thanks to Seana, my sister-in-law, for putting out a call on social media to encourage donations to the Lennon Recovery House fundraiser. This helped bring our total to an amazing $5800!
We are so close to the $7000 goal and with only a couple of days before I complete my over 700km walk, I feel confident of reaching both the completion of my walk and the arrival at the $7000 fundraising goal.
Please consider donating if you haven’t to this worthy cause. This is the link with details of the fundraiser and simple way to donate. Donations are tax deductible and receipts are issued immediately.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 27 – The Island Walk

Today was a contemplative time after the eventful previous two days. Wind blown clouds kept me company and I was grateful that no rain fell during my four and a half hour walk.

Much of the route today was inside the boundaries of the Brackley Beach National Park.
But before I entered the park, I hiked from the roundabout on Route 6, down Portage Road, and met this handsome couple along the way.
This is the path in the park that filled most of my walking today.
While there were few beach views directly from the path, I did climb over the dunes to watch the crashing waves.
The marsh on the other side of the path was tranquil.
And home to graceful blue herons.
I was happy that Gren came to walk a ways with me.
I’ve developed an affinity for bridges during this walk, and this was quite the bridge!
Always interesting things to see on The Island Walk.
Just before leaving the park, you’ll find this lovely resting spot.
At waypoint 18 in Dalvay, I decided to keep walking an additional couple of kilometres.
Past the waypoint on Route 6, there was still some forest along the side of the road to enjoy.
And a good spot to finish the day and begin again tomorrow.
I ended the day at Winter River.

I only have 3 more days of The Island Walk left and I will be done. I am both anxious to finish and sorry to have it end in equal measure.
Meanwhile, I was once again encouraged by additional donations coming in yesterday and today for Lennon House. Thank you all, once again! We are now at $5625. We are so close to our $7000 goal. The life changing help being provided at Lennon House is something I’m grateful that I could support with this 700km journey. If you haven’t yet donated and would like to, this is the link.

More adventures to come.
Christine


Day 26 – The Island Walk

I had been looking forward to this day even before I began my 700km walk.

At around 21 kilometres of my 31 km day, I arrived at Lennon House.

Ever since I decided to tie my walk to fundraise for Lennon House, I felt this day, when I would visit and meet the people there, would be an experience I would not forget.
Before I share that, however, here is the beauty I took in earlier in the day.

After a bit of road walking at my starting point on Route 6, I was greeted by a long walk on Cavendish Road along this pleasant boardwalk.
Cavendish is one of the more touristy areas of the island, and evidence abounds.
As I headed into Cavendish National Park, I met workers starting their day and asked if I could snap a pic. Workers, as always, making the world go round.
Shortly after entering the park, The Island Walk’s Linda Lowther came by to say hi (unfortunately I forgot to snap a pic!). It was great to meet her in person!
Linda sent me a very useful list of directions for the walk which I have kept handy throughout.
If you do TIW, I recommend printing Linda Lowther’s helpful directions which, with the signage, means not having to refer to your phone to move along.
The paved path all through the park offered view after view of stunning scenery.
I found a sheltered spot at the end of the park for lunch. A picnic table is gold when on a long trek!
But washrooms already closed for the season was a disappointment. Seriously, this situation needs improvement. This, by the way, has nothing to do with The Island Walk folks. It’s a government thing.
After the park, more great boardwalk and views along the water through North Rustico.
Through the harbour and fishery.
And back on Route 6, which was busy and loud, as I walked toward Lennon House.
But even the road walks provide uplifting views.
And friendly, albeit disinterested, company.
And just 1.1 up from the official Island Walk route, I made my way to Lennon House. This slight detour added 2.2 kms to my walk, and I am including it to my total distance of 31.25 for the day.
And when I arrived, warmly greeted by staff and residents, Lennon House founder Dianne Young and I shared tea and delicious vegan cookies in the communal dining room.
Dianne and chef Erin with the delicious plate of vegan cookies. I ate quite a few of those!
Inspiring art graces the walls of communal areas from an artist fundraiser. This piece by Emma Howard.
I felt such a connection with the people I met at Lennon House.
After my visit, it was time to get walking again. Having Dianne join me was a treat and made the next few kilometres fly by!
Mike (who snapped this shot) came to pick up Dianne after our walk. I was sorry to leave my new found friends.
The portion on Grand Pere Road that followed offered more great views.
The Oyster Bay bridge came into view right before the next waypoint.
Made it to waypoint 17, but decided to contInue walking.
An awesome day at an end at the Brackley Rd roundabout, and more kilometres toward the goal!

Having seen Lennon House today, I feel evermore committed to fundraising for this remarkable place.
We are at an impressive $5450! Thank you to everyone who has donated already! We are only $1575 away from the goal. Please consider donating if you haven’t already. This is the link to so it.
https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/700km-island-walk-for-art-space-at-lennon-recove-2/

Thanks as always for reading this. More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 25 – The Island Walk

Quintessential Prince Edward Island scenery woven into an extra special day! Stanley Bridge Harbour.

This was a special day in many ways! First, my husband arrived to support me during my last week of the walk. This is huge for me in so many ways! Secondly, he happened to meet thru-hiker, Matt, of The First Church of the Masochist Hikes, as they both came through the border at Borden-Carlton.

My husband and I have been
following Matt’s adventure on YouTube since January. That’s when he began hiking Key West, Florida all the way to Canada! He’s doing the part of the IAT that runs through PEI.

Before my husband arrived, I hiked up and down some gorgeous roads walking toward waypoint 16 at Bayview.

It’s impossible to capture all the scenery I get to take in as I walk, and photos cannot accurately convey it. The panoramic views, the scent from a roadside apple tree, the crunch of my footfalls, the neighbourly wave as I walk by an occasional house, discovering the perfect spot to rest, and even embracing the less perfect, make long distance walking a most life affirming experience.
Hmmm…I spy a possible lunch spot
And yes, this was where I ate my lunch. Seriously, does it get better than this?
Clouds were ever changing
I walked by the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery, whose books I read repeatedly in my youth, and shared with my children. The house is at the corner of Routes 20 and 6.
Waypoint 16, and an early end to an easy day.
And at the end, my reward? My husband was waiting!
Route walked today, with lots of hills!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be another day I have been looking forward to since I became serious about doing The Island Walk: I am going to visit Lennon Recovery House!
As you likely know if you’ve read my previous posts, this is a fundraiser for the deeply meaningful work being done at Lennon House. We have raised $5125 so far!
The goal is $7000. Please consider donating to this project, which helps folks struggling with addictions and mental health disorders find their best lives. I’m looking forward to meeting some of them today, and delivering the message of caring that’s been shown to them through your donations to the fundraiser. This is the link to donate if you haven’t yet, but would like to.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 24 – The Island Walk

Adventures and misadventures today!

Summerside morning sky as I headed out of town toward Kensington.

Joban, who got me to trail after my leisurely morning at the fab Clark’s Sunny Isle Motel, set the tone for a fabulous first half of the day.
He was such a nice cab driver, and insisted on making a donation to Lennon House when he learned about my walk. Basically, he paid me back the tip I’d given him and then some. So kind.
That put a spring in my step walking back on trail through Summerside, in the opposite direction of the first time I did it back on Day… I’m not sure and honestly, I’m too tired to look it up! Suffice to say, I like this town’s vibe and was glad to walk it twice.

Not sure what this building is beside the trail but there were about 30 crows on the roof when I went by, so I’ll call it Hitchcock’s place. There are an almost alarming number of crows in PEI. But they’re are cool, too.
I was soon out of town and back with familiar Confederation trail scenery. Perfect pine path.
Beautiful birches, too.
I’d expected the rain, which had been forecast, to start sooner than it did.
It wasn’t until about 2 hours, when I spotted the vintage train as I entered Kensington, that the sky opened up and it was rain gear time.
I ate my lunch in the shelter of a nearby gazebo. There was a picnic table, but it was occupied by three teenagers (out of frame to respect their privacy). I sat on the ground quite comfortably nearby. The lads were friendly and answered a few of my questions about the area.
This is a good pub I was told, but it was closed. Sundays, it seems, some things are closed on the island or don’t open until noon.
By the time I got to the Kensington waypoint sign, not far from where I ate, it began to rain more heavily (which explains the poor quality of this pic). I’d only done about 14 kilometres though and wanted to keep going. Misadventures began.
I couldn’t take my phone out to snap many pics as the rain fell in a steady stream, often horizontally with the wind. A road walk in that means splash from fast moving vehicles, too. Not pleasant but I only went about 5kms.
Views were a bit limited today, so I’m showing what a vegan eats on trail, (some people have asked me) or at least this is what I ate on this particular day. Those weird looking things are mini pitas stuffed with vegan cheese and some with almond butter.

Back to our story. Another fellow hiker, Laura, said she would pick me up when I was done walking. Mercifully, she was already on her way when I texted her so I hardly had to wait. She arrived, so thoughtfully, with big, fluffy towels for the ride back to my motel. I don’t know what I would have done without Laura today!

Back at my room, drenched, my worry now was that my wet and somewhat dirty clothes would never dry out for morning. This is where more of the “awesome” about my motel comes in. Myles, who owns the hotel with his family, washed and dried my pants and socks in their laundry facilities! These are not public, you understand, but for their housekeeping. And I got the newspaper I needed to dry out my shoes from their recycling. This works well by the way: stuff crumpled up newspaper in wet trail runners to dry them out.

But don’t put them outside and then fall asleep because it could rain on them again. Yes, misadventures!
I really wanted to make 20kms, but 19.66 will have to do.

Meanwhile, as I walked, more generous folks donated to our fundraiser! Thank you! Know that I read everyone one of your names and comments and they help keep me going.

More adventures to come as I enter my last week of the walk.
Christine

Day 23 – The Island Walk

I felt this was going to be a great day and that I’d likely put in 30 kilometres, but you can’t know truly what the road will deliver until it happens. And that, for me, is in large part the joy of a long distance hike.
A deserted red clay road winding through forest, moody skies, and a robust wind set the stage.

I was driven by a fellow hiker, Donna, at 7am to get me to my starting point. This early start contributed to my success as well.
(I’ll have to dedicate an entire blog post to all of the people who have helped me throughout this journey. It’s been phenomenal.)

Lush ferns abounded on the edges of the red road.
And various lichen in the forest all around
Turn left here instructed The Island Walk sign. It didn’t look like a road but that signage is reliable so, off road I went!
Two fields later, this was at the end of the ”road”. I do love an adventure!
I briefly contemplated taking a break in one of its wheels to get out of the wind. Yes, it was large enough that I could have quite comfortably curled up in there.
My feet and bottom of my pants were soaked after that but it was totally worth it.
It was soon back to road walking – paved roads with cars, I mean. I was excited to see the first bridge of the day in the distance.
Hmmm…I spy a potential spot for a rest break down there.
And, yes, it was a great spot for a snack and a change into dry socks.
Having grown up in the city, I never pass up a chance to check out under a bridge, too.
I hated to leave. That was a sweet place for a stop!
By the way, that bridge is at the Grand River, just past this road.
Odd place to keep your lobsters, but sure…
Further on, after pavement and more charming red road walking, another sign told me to turn here. I did think twice when I read this but carried on.
Yes, again, this was “the road”. I thoroughly enjoyed the slight uncertainty and variety of this day.
I made it to Miscouche, waypoint 14. This would have been my 20km stop for the day, but I decided to continue after a brief stop at the picnic table on the lawn of the big baptist church at the corner of the town’s main intersection.
I was soon back on the Confederation Trail headed to Summerside.
I very much enjoy occasional walks through cities, especially on a trail that prevents me from getting lost!
Summerside has a welcoming waterfront and downtown. The Confederation Trail runs right through it.
I Thoroughly enjoyed the walk, but I was happy to call it a day at Water Street at the trailhead across from Holland College. A cab ride with Paul took me to my motel, Clark’s Sunny Isle. I highly recommend this place. Reasonable rates, well maintained, nice people, and my room even had a back deck to dry my “hiker laundry”.

Lastly, we are now over the $5000 mark for Lennon Recovery House! Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.
By next Tuesday, I think I will be close enough to go visit Lennon House and finally meet Dianne Young, its founder, and residents. Very much looking forward to that and sharing all the caring shown to them through this fundraiser. If you haven’t contributed, but would like to, or you would like to learn more about it, this is the link.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 22-The Island Walk

It’s funny how when you’ve walked long distances for 22 consecutive days, mostly over 20km each day with a couple over 30s to make it interesting, you think of a 20km walk as an easy day.

Heavy pack, but blue sky day

But then you remember that it’s also a full-pack day, meaning you’re changing where you’ll be staying so you have to carry all your gear, clothes, and food. That is, unless you get super lucky and you can “slack pack”, that is, someone brings your fully loaded pack or most of the contents to your next stop. I’ve had that luck, but not today.
My pack probably weighed 20lbs or a tad over 9 kilos. Normally, it’s only about 14 lbs. Every pound mattered today. Especially to knees and feet!

The marshes on trail mean lots of mosquitoes when it’s hot and humid, as it was today. Still pretty though!
Nature really shines on the trail. There were a lot of these mushrooms, and this one reminded me of my cats. I miss them. Do you see a cat face in the centre?
These shelters at intervals along the trail are awesome. We need a few like this on the Millennium Trail back home, I think!
Much of the trail is lush dense forest. I cannot look at these without assessing them for Xmas tree potential as we did in the forest on our land back home for so many years.
This could be ”old man’s beard” lichen, or maybe it’s fruticose lichen. I’m not sure, but if anyone knows for certain, let me know. Either way I’d call this a Dr. Seuss tree!
Pac Man mushrooms!
Autumn colours but summer heat today.
20kms all on the Confederation Trail. The Island Walk route necessitates walking the section in both directions. I had walked it previously in the opposite direction through to waypoint 6. Today was to waypoint 13.
I could not find the sign for waypoint 13, but this told me I was at the right place at least.

And the highlight of today?

The big $5000 reached! Thanks to everyone who has made this possible, and a shout out to Casey, a friend who made the last generous donation with this message: ”Getting you to $5000 for the 500 km you’ve walked!” Feeling the love! Thank you.
If you haven’t donated but might like to help meet the $7000 goal for Lennon Recovery House, here’s the link.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 21 – The Island Walk

Thursday, September 23, 2021

I’ve now walked over 500 kilometres! 504.44 to be exact, without missing a day. And we’ve raised $4750 for Lennon Recovery House PEI. Holy Moly! Still a ways to go for 700kms and the $7000 goal, but it’s happening.
This, meanwhile, is some of what I saw and did on Day 21 of the adventure.

Started the day by watching this spectacular sunrise. I’ve been getting up at 5:30 to prep for each day, so this is a nice reward for early mornings.
Pretty little church in Alberton, on my way out of town, where my walk began.
Many fisherman working at the first waterview I saw today.
You often see boats like this in people’s yards. I was thinking as I went by, musing about my accommodation challenge for the next day (now all sorted, so no worries), how cool it would be to sleep in one of these on dry land. Alternative accommodations?
Today was a long road walk along Route 12 – Cascumpec Road, but I came across this unexpected gem of a store.
Now called Cascumpec General Store, it had cool vintage finds and Randy Arsenault, who started it 5 years ago and grew up here, was so nice. The building was originally the Caspunpec Town Hall but, unused, it had fallen into disrepair until he refurbished it.
There were a number of picturesque harbours on this stretch of road.
Thankful for a bit of shade, and for signage.
After the tiring asphalt, there was Percival ”road”. I almost thought I wasn’t on the correct route as the overgrown path narrowed.
But before long, it opened on to the Confederation Trail, where I happily put in the last few kilometres of the day.
Made it to waypoint 12 – Portage
Oh, and the walk made the PEI paper! Hoping that bolsters the fundraising for Lennon Recovery House.

If you would like to encourage success for folks struggling with addictions and mental health, this is the link. Deep thanks to all who have already donated. I can’t thank you all individually right now, but I read the names of donors, and think of you and thank you as I check the fundraiser each evening.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 20! The Island Walk

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
“Well, that’s not something you see everyday!” I said that more than once on this 21.3 kilometres of my road walk along Route 12 from Anglo Tignish to Alberton in PEI.

As you can see, the day began in cloud…and boots.

I was a bit bummed when I set out that it threatened rain. I felt a few drops as the wind picked up, but there’s nothing like boots casually strung way up above the road on electrical wires to brighten my mood!

Stormy grey skies and choppy waters to start the day.
The sun making a valiant effort to break through.
And when it did, it was spectacular!
Bridge views
This organic veggie stand reminded me of home. I haven’t seen any others in my over 470kms of walking. Heart and Soil is also a farm B&B. Looks like a place I would have liked to stay if I had known about it, and it’s right on route.
People make some fun things on PEI, like exact miniature replicas of their homes as lawn ornaments.
And ginormous mailboxes. Note my trekking poles leaned there for size.
Too bad I ate lunch on the edge of a farmer’s field by the road. A kilometre farther and I could have had it beachside.
Down a ditch and into a “watch you don’t poke your eye out“ forest to pee. Realities of road walks.
Still more gorgeous views on the bridges of this stretch.
Quite a long bridge over deep blue water, just a few kilometres before you arrive in Alberton.
Entering my destination for the day
Made it to the waypoint 11 sign in Alberton.
Where and what I walked today. I kept a good average 5.3 kph, fuelled in part by music. Recommended tempo, Lady Gaga’s You were born this way. Caution: earworm!

At the end, Lisa, who owns Briarwood Coastal Cottages and Lodge with her husband, Paul, kindly picked me up. She even waited while I bought some groceries so I could cook myself a decent supper in the kitchen of the lovely unit I’m renting at Briarwood. If you are doing this area of TIW, you should check out staying here.
And, following the lovely surprise yesterday from Ashley, a friend of my sister-in-law’s offered to support my journey by putting $300 towards the cost of my 3-day stay at Briarwood! They also wanted to do this anonymously, but maybe if you’re reading this, you kind human, you can know that I am so very grateful!

Our fundraiser for Lennon Recovery House continues to grow! We’re getting there! Thanks to everyone who has donated thus far. If you haven’t and would like to make a donation, or just learn a bit more about why I’m raising money, this is the link.
More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 19 – The Island Walk

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Spectacular scenery, hitchhiking, and a most unexpected, moving experience to deepen my faith in humanity.
I left my home-away-from home at Ellen’s and Brian’s, and was driven to my starting point in Christopher Cross by fellow hiker, Jo-Anne, this morning at 8:30am.

Today was one section I’d been anticipating for a time: the visit to North Cape. It did not disappoint!

Stunning cliffs
That’s a long, long way down
Blazing blue sky backdrop for the many wind turbines at the point. The whoosh of the blades competed with the sound of the waves at times.
I’ve walked from my startIng point in New Zealand, and made it to Norway! hahaha, but all in PEI. This was the community I walked through to arrive at North Cape.
That’s some sand sculpture!
Part of the Black Marsh Trail with an ocean view all along. Breathtaking!
I miss these types of forested trails, which are what I frequently hike back home in Ontario.
Lunch spot outside the North Cape Interpretive Centre.
North Cape Centre and lighthouse.
The wind was at my back getting to the Cape which meant a strong headwind all the way back down another 10 or so kilometres on Route 12 to Anglo Tignish.
Made it to waypoint 10, but decided to keep going.
A busy working harbour just past waypoint 10.
Roadside wild blueberry field in fall
What I walked today

And, then! The ride from my end point to Briarwood Coastal Cottages fell through. Sometimes a challenge like that presents just the light in the universe that one needs.
I decided to hitch hike and, after not too long, a young woman stopped. Though she was on her way to a beach walk on her day off, and not going to Alberton (I came to find out as we drove along), she so kindly changed her plans to help me out. During the almost half hour drive to my accommodations, I told her about my walk for Lennon Recovery House and learned that she is a nurse who travels to work up north in Indigenous communities, and other details that made me feel we were somewhat kindred spirits. I don’t want to share too much here as I didn’t mention that I might write about our meeting, though I did say that I blog daily about my adventures.
When we arrived at my destination, I thanked her and said I wished I had something to give her. She said she had something to give me. From an envelope, she revealed two $100 bills. She insisted I take it, which I did with – not gonna lie – tears welling up. We got out of the car, hugged, and she was gone. I’ll never forget these deep encounters I am experiencing and, especially, this one. I’ll walk with the glow of that meeting and I send all my respect and best wishes with you Ashley. The world is a better place today. And Lennon House has another generous donation.
If you would like to contribute or learn more about the fundraiser, this is the link. Thank you to all who have already made a donation.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 18 – The Island Walk

Monday, September 20, 2021
Secluded beach, Stompin’ Tom and moving digs!

Letting the days go by…once in a lifetime…let the water hold me up …”Talking Heads

On this 21.70km day, the weather was my best friend. Cerulean waters of the ocean were in view on my left for good portions of the walk. 

When lunchtime came, I decided to veer down a red clay road to see if I might access the beach, and I did! The scenery was breathtaking. It was hard to leave it and keep walking.

Lunch spot!
Long distance walking reality check: a walk in the ocean will require new foot bandaging. Totally worth it!

I should mention that whenever I stop during my walk, or go off course, I always pause my tracking app and resume it when I continue so that I am keeping accurate recording of distance on The Island Walk path.

A few kilometres later and I arrived in Skinners Pond, home to legendary Stompin’ Tom.
The place was busy with fans enjoying the daily live show by a musician delivering a Tom tribute. If you go by between 1pm and 2, you can attend the free performance. The place does, however, close for the season in late September.

Part of the Stompin’ Tom homestead.

I enjoyed the music in the background as I made use of the facilities. There’s a gift shop that, surprisingly, did not sell postcards which was what I’d hoped to get. They did have all the other expected paraphernalia.

Unofficial welcoming greeter at Skinners Pond
So many beautiful vistas

Around 8 kms later, I arrived at my final destination for the day, Christopher Cross. This is where Ellen, my kind host, picked me up. 

Ellen has treated me so kindly, and I’ve called her beautiful cottage in Cape Wolfe home for the past 4 days. I can’t convey the feeling of gratitude I hold for her and Brian, and the other incredibly kind and accommodating people who have helped me out on this journey. 

One more pretty view of the many I saw today

Tomorrow I am moving on to Briarwood Coastal Cottages and Lodge for 3 days. Following that, who knows?
Organizing accommodations, especially with having to be ferried to and from each trailhead, can be a challenge for someone like me on a limited budget, but I have been beyond lucky so far. My heartfelt thanks to the amazing islanders who have done so much for me and, consequently, have helped me raise $4510 to date for Lennon Recovery House.  Link to fundraiser if interested. 

PEI is a very special place indeed.
More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 17 – The Island Walk

Sunday, September 19, 2021

What is this, you might ask? It’s a common sight if you travel around PEI and I spotted this one on Trainer Road during my 22.5 kilometres, from O’Leary to Miminegash.

A wider shot gives a better idea of a buoy tree. I’ve heard there’s one in Murray Harbour people drive across the island to see.

The day started nicely on the trail for about 8km out of O’Leary, then onto road walks with brutal headwinds as I headed toward the coast. At some points, I wondered if I was actually moving forward at all!

The sky, in contrast, was a cloudless expanse of gentle blue but I hesitated to look up too much, lest my neck be snapped back by the wind. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but, you get the idea. Still some pretty nice views. And no rain!

A most welcome sight just before you leave the trail for Jerry Rd.
Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on the Confederation Trail. I hadn’t seen any until the past couple of days, but did see a few trail bikes come zipping by me and there’s evidence of 4-wheelers, too.
Finding a lunch spot on this section proved a challenge, but I hunkered down just off the road in an old, unused driveway. Any place will do when you really need a break, and I was thankful for it!
Plentiful, beautiful views when coming into Miminegash.
Beautiful cormorants
This the remains of a tank house, right by the walking trail. These tanks were used to supply water at intervals when the steam trains ran on the island.
The only living snake I’ve seen on trail. I saw a couple of small dead ones, sadly. This healthy one looks like a garter snake but please correct me of I’m wrong!
Made it to Waypoint 8 at Miminegash!

Today’s total for our Lennon House PEI fundraiser stands at $4510, which is the first time since I began my walk that it hasn’t increased daily. If you haven’t donated, and can afford any amount at all, to help Lennon Recovery House make a life saving difference in a person’s life, you can do it simply here.
If you have donated, my heartfelt thanks! And please share the fundraising link on social media or with your family and friends. That really helps.

More adventures to come! I’m getting close to North Cape!
Christine

Day 16 – The Island Walk

Saturday, September 18, 2021

33.85 kilometres walked today!

Plus, I met people on trail (and a fox – but not on the trail!)
The vast azure sky, dramatic fluffy clouds, and a changing forest path made the walk exceptional.

I started from Northam Rd, on past McNeill’s Mill and Portage,finishing up in O’Leary. 

Start at Northam Road

Somewhere between McNeill’s Mills and Portage, a friendly woman rode up on her bike and asked “Are you Christine?” 
What a nice surprise to have Colleen Poirier come out to meet me!

I knew I wanted to do a long day today and I credit Colleen’s company in helping me do just that! 

Colleen is clearly an outdoor enthusiast and has completed the full tip-to-tip on the Confederation Trail – twice I think! She is also one of the walkers who joined portions of the inaugural Island Walk.
We had a great time chatting, while she walked her bike beside me. After a short lunch break, Colleen kept me company a bit further on, to Portage Road, before riding her bike back to her car at the Richmond crossroad.

Shortly thereafter, I met the group of seven hikers from Ottawa who are doing The Island Walk.

Having started in Charlottetown, while I started in New Zealand, we were going in opposite directions. It was great to run into them!
Trailside scenery
The trail provides, they say. This tunnel canopy appeared on my last few kilometres.
These attractive signs mark TIW journey

The day ended with Ellen – my generous host – picking me up at O’Leary, waypoint 7.

Ellen offered to show me the iconic West Point Beach lighthouse which is a short drive from Cape Wolfe, where I’m staying with her at her and her husband, Brian’s, cottage.

In addition to the lighthouse and ocean view, we saw two tame foxes in search of food. Unfortunately, when wild animals are fed by humans, as these likely have been, it alters their natural behaviour which is detrimental to all involved. 

Ellen then showed me picturesque Howard’s Cove Harbour.

I’m lucky to have met Ellen, who was born and grew up here, and has a wealth of knowledge about the area.

Lastly, the fundraiser for Lennon Recovery House is at $4510! We are getting steadily closer to our goal of $7000 each day and it’s gratifying to watch it grow. Please know that I look at every donation and related comment, and I thank you all!
If you haven’t donated but would like to contribute, or just want to know more about the fundraiser and why I chose Lennon House, this is the link.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 15 – The Island Walk

Friday, September 17, 2021

There’s such beauty along the Confederation Trail and it’s peaceful. I’m happy that that’s where I put in the 25 kilometres of my journey today.

Kendra, who I mentioned came to bring me to Ruth’s yesterday, returned to pick me up at 8am, and by 9am, I was on trail. 

At about 12 kilometres in, my left foot was so sore I thought I might have to call it a day, but a long lunch break and some “doctoring” of it, and I had no problem carrying on. 

First aid on the go!

I went through Wellington – that’s where the lunch break unfolded – and I walked on for another 13 kilometres. 

Made it to waypoint 5 at Wellington and carried on. I’m not doing the trail with a start in Charlottetown, so the numbers aren’t as relevant. That’s the beauty of circumnavigating the island. You can start anywhere. I started up at New Zealand.
Sun streamed in the forest beside the trail

The last 5km required some tunes to both take my mind off the pain that reared its ugly head, and to keep up a decent pace. Faves today: The Coup’s Ride the Fence, Cream’s I Feel Free, Alessia Cara’s Wild Things and KT Tunstall’s Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. 

Apples growing along the trail make a good snack

Where the trail crosses at Northam is where my new host, Ellen, picked me up.

Ellen has a lovely cottage with her husband, Brian, at Cape Wolfe. It’s truly a house, not a cottage in what I think of as a cottage, something basic and usually rustic. It is a cottage for them in that they don’t live here in winter. I feel especially fortunate to get to see this spectacular part of the island as it’s remote and not included in The Island Walk. 

View tonight from Ellen’s cottage in Cape Wolfe

Lastly, I’m deeply grateful and encouraged every day as I see the number climbing toward the goal for Lennon Recovery House! Thank you! We are now at $4385! 
Everyone struggling with addictions and mental health disorders deserves the life changing opportunities a caring place like Lennon Recovery House offers. All donations are tax deductible and it’s simple to give at this link. https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/700km-island-walk-for-art-space-at-lennon-recove-2/.

More adventures to come! 
Christine

Day 14 – The Island Walk

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Nothing but blue skies today! After a relaxing morning of planning the next few days, while soaking up the view at the home of my gracious host, Ruth, I got back to walking around 1:30pm.

Sticky notes are forgiving when plans change!

Venturing off from where I ended the day previous, in Bedeque, I headed for the 8 or so kms down the busiest highway yet toward Summerside. 

A view from the side of the busy 1A into Summerside. Not bad, eh?

Making the unpleasant, and unavoidable – there’s just no other way to get to Summerside – as pleasant as possible for myself, I turned my face away when transports went by and plugged in some music. Upside: you can sing along as loud as you want!

I was rewarded by the sight of the Kool Breeze Ice Cream shop when I got into Summerside. I’d read on the PEI vegan Facebook group that this place has vegan soft serve ice cream! I had no idea where it was though, so what a nice surprise. 

Yumm!

After a bit of in town walking, I was on the Confederation Trail again. It runs right through the city. 

Unfortunately, I was looking for the “Island Walk #4” waypoint sign, but missed it. It didn’t matter as I had planned to walk farther anyway. 

Gorgeous spot for a break right in downtown Summerside

After 20.35 kms, I ended at the Confederation Trail and Kinsmen Rd. 

Another fellow hiker – who has hiked all over the world- and is a friend of Ruth’s, came to pick me up. Thank you Kendra!

 

Our fundraising efforts continue to climb! Thanks to everyone who has helped us get to $4,305! The goal is $7000. Please help us get there if you haven’t donated yet and can afford to pitch in. Let’s support the caring work done at Lennon Recovery House and make a positive difference in people’s lives. Here’s the link if you’d like to know more or make a donation.

More adventures to come and thanks  for reading this!
Christine 

Day 13 – The Island Walk

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The bridge came into view this morning!

The Confederation Bridge is a girder box design and the longest bridge in the country. It’s also the world’s longest bridge over ice covered water.

Having the company of my new hiking friend and fabulous host, Ruth DeLong, on my first few kilometres this morning, set me off – dare I say it? – on the right foot.

The day began in Tryon. Do you see the face, sort of a Hallowe’en face, on this church? Or is it just me?

Most of today’s walk, save for the last 5k or so, was on Route 10. I walked through Augustine Cove, Cape Traverse, Carlton-Borden and North Bedeque to Central Bedeque. 

Whenever I see a bridge coming up, even when walking on a highway, I know there will be a calming view.

Today’s “the good, the bad, and the ugly”: the good included bridge views, one red road, and only light rain near the end of the walk. The bad was having to stop behind a church to Voltaren my increasingly painful quad and foot so that I could continue. Yes, Voltaren is now a verb! The ugly was watching and smelling the massive liquid manure trucks that were working on the potato fields.

Did I mention it’s always windy?

But let’s focus on the good, which is what dominates this great Island Walk! Feeling fortunate to be out here, embracing all the views.

When you duck into the forest by the side of the road and discover nature’s little treasures.
A place to rest? So much simple pride of place in PEI
My trek today. I’ve now walked over 311 kilometres.

So grateful for all the support from you who read this, family and friends back home, and new friends I am making here. 

In closing, the Lennon House fundraiser is now at $4255! These funds will be used to create an art space with art therapy and artists visits to support the recovery of folks struggling with addictions and mental health disorders. 
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has donated already and, if you haven’t but would like to donate, this is the link.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 12 – The Island Walk

September 14, 2021

The relentless wind made for some chilly walking at times today, but the sun eventually broke through and spectacular vistas sweetened it all.

I added 24.6 kms to my total walk, stopping for an hour or so in Victoria by the Sea.

For County folks, Victoria by the Sea is sort of the Bloomfield of PEI, albeit much smaller, with a gorgeous view, but, you know…shops. Most I saw, however, were closed. Seems Monday/Tuesday they’re not open and the season is winding down, so that’s understandable. No shops needed for me anyway. I instead embraced the view from the Adirondacks belonging to the said closed shops…

and put my feet up as I ate my delicious samosa.

Carrying on, I arrived in Tryon, my stop for the day. There were more than a few hills today, which I don’t mind all all, but I want to dispel the myth that PEI is as flat as PEC!

Tryon is where my host, Ruth, who’s also a hiker, picked me up. She then kindly brought me to a grocery store in Cornwall for a few things, and then to her lovely home on the water in St. Catherines. Hikers know what hikers need!

Also a big thanks to Seana, my sister-in-law, for driving all the way from St. Peter’s Bay to pick me up early this morning in Stratford, driving me to Ruth’s so I could drop off my food stash, and then to Route 19 and Bonshaw Rd, where my walking began. Seana also let me know that Saltwire (the online PEI news) did a story on my walk and the fundraiser. Thankful for the publicity, but the link the included for the fundraiser doesn’t work. This one does 🙂

That’s it for today. 

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 11 – The Island Walk

September 13, 2021 

The best day! 30.5 kilometres on this gorgeous Monday. Lots of pics and short on words this post.

Hurray for red clay backroads flanked by forests, framed by leaves.

This, briefly explained, is why today was the best:
1- Started with a walk on the trail through the city of Charlottetown. City equals stores , so I got a chance to resupply much needed foot pain management products.

2- Though there were the inevitable road walks, almost all either had sidewalks or interesting features. And, thank you to the woman (fellow hiker, I am assuming) who beeped and waved, smiling at me. So nice!

3- Challenging roundabouts to navigate, which was like a game, especially for someone like me that has the sense of direction of a cheese sandwich.

4- Bridges, hilly terrain, side roads with no loose dogs, water views, rolling farmland, roadside apple trees, and walking on secluded, canopied red dirt roads.

Views from a highway road walk
Right on the Confederation Trail in Charlottetown. Is 8:30am too early for cider?
Better morning choice than cider
Lots of trailside wildflowers for the bees
More bridge views

Perfect little lunch spot in Clyde River

View from Clyde River Road of St. Catherines bridge

Saw the sign, and kept on walking

Plus, a new friend, who happens to be a chef, made me a whole bunch of amazing vegan food for dinner and even to take with me!

Makena – chef extraordinaire – and Bruce, who generously shared his home with me.

Lastly, today’s total raised for Lennon Recovery House is $4,255! The goal is $7000 so we are well on the way. Thank you again to all who have donated! Such important work is being done at Lennon House. Please share this to help get to our goal. If you haven’t yet donated, but would like to, or just want to learn more about the fundraiser, please check out the link

Thanks for following along.
More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 10 -The Island Walk

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Today, 22 kilometres from Lake Verde to Charlottetown! 

After a good night’s sleep at Crissy’s, who lives near Lake Verde and welcomed me into her home, I set out on the trail early. Crissy is a childhood friend of Bay’s, my friend back home in Prince Edward County.

My view from the trail while eating lunch

Another dry, blue sky day with strong winds. Except for some road walking on  busy roads as I approached Stratford and Charlottetown, much of the walk was on the Confederation Trail. It’s so peaceful and today’s section varied between forests and vistas of fields and ponds. 

I’m finding the road walks on highways challenging, not physically, but stressful.
Of course, there aren’t options other than some road walks on a long distance trek like this, especially when you’re trying to get into a city. Thankfully it wasn’t too far.

Though this was also a road walk, I was excited to cross the Hillsborough bridge into Charlottetown.
Crossing bridges is fun, even when they’re busy and the wind is threatening to pitch you over the side.

There is a wide, newly built bike and pedestrian path on one side that made the crossing much safer than when the first walkers did the inaugural trek, as outlined in Bryson’s guide. Then, there was nothing for pedestrians.
Remember to cross at the lights though. I foolishly had to negotiate many lanes of traffic and then jump the rail!

Yes, another random potato. This one on the Hillsborough bridge.

It was good to be in a city again. Joe Gzig park, where this section ends, is nice.

There’s no numbered sign (would be waypoint 32) but this sign does the trick!

I arrived in Charlottetown a lot earlier than originally planned so I headed for restaurant food at Stir it up Vegan. It’s just a kilometre from the park in The Founders Hall and Market. 

Excellent vegan food.

My host tonight is my brother’s friend, Bruce. I am being spoiled by all this amazing Prince Edward Islander hospitality! 

Lastly, the Lennon Recovery House fundraiser is now at $4205! Thank you! If you haven’t donated and would like to, or just want to learn about Lennon House and what the funds are for, this is the link.

More adventures to come!
Christine

Day 9 – The Island Walk

Saturday. Sept 11,2021

211 kilometres done! What a perfect day of walking from Surrey to Lake Verde, PEI.

Sun dappled trail today!

My pack was extra heavy today with all my gear and food, but the weather proved ideal and the trail was all kinds of beautiful. So more pics, less writing to share of this 25 kilometre day.

I began in sun where I’d ended in rain the day before (section 30)
Stopped many times to apprecIate awesomeness.
Apparently I am not strong enough to move trees if they fall on the path.
These great shelters can be found all along the trail.
A balanced lunch: salad, grapes and oreos. Note an empty chip canister is perfect for keeping crackers and oreos from getting crushed in your pack.
At road crossing, still pretty views.
The trail provides a snack!
Made it!

Again, thank you to all for donations to the Lennon Recovery House fundraiser. Today’s total is $3985! It’s so encouraging to have your support and interest in this journey.

If you haven’t donated and would like to get us to $4000 (we’re so close!) this is the link.

More of the adventure to come!
Christine

Day 8 – The Island Walk

Pruny, that was me at day’s end after hours of walking in the rain! Nonetheless, I saw some nice scenery and I’m feeling strong.

Some of my favourite scenery on trail are occasional washrooms!

I started late to miss the thunderstorms that were forecast but, alas, all morning turned out to be dry. Seriously, weather forecasters, get it together! Oh, but I got a call from the Guardian newspaper – not that Guardian, the PEI Guardian – during my leisurely morning, so that was good. We’ll see what might come of that, but hoping it will help with the fundraiser for Lennon House.
Anyway, I got on trail at noon at Munns Road and the Confederation Trail, where I left off yesterday.
Munns Road is more of a red dirt track but it does cross the trail and is driveable if someone is, as my hosts Bethany and Cory were, graciously picking you up and dropping you off. It’s a good spot to add  a few kilometres after Murray River to shorten the next day. This is why I did a smidge over 22 instead of 26 kilometres today.

There were some lovely spots on the trail. The temperature rose and the humidity soared before the rain came. 

See autumn slipping in?

Not much happened from the steady downpour until the end of my 22.06 kilometres. Sometimes you just have to don the rain gear, put some music in the headphones, and put one foot in front of the other. 
The Confederation trail is ideal for this – nothing to think about like traffic and directions – with a comfortable surface to walk on, lots of forest, moss, ferns, and tranquility.
Did you know that forests boosts our immune system? While we breathe in the fresh air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. I’m no expert, but I like to look these things up.

The over 3 hours of the head down, feet in puddles and the inability to take my phone out for more than a few seconds is why, unfortunately, my tracker app waa interrupted at 19 kilometres but thankfully I noticed it no longer speaking to me and had to reset it for the last kilometres recorded but the 19.07 plus 3.09 is fairly accurate. I ended in Surrey – not to be confused with Souris, as happened a few times.

Munns Road to past Melville before app glitch

The picnic tables with shelter on the trail are such a welcome feature on the trail! Being able to eat my lunch out of the rain was a highlight.

This is what a vegan lunch can look like

Thanks again to Bethany who waited patiently for me at the end and welcomed me, sopping wet, into her vehicle to whisk me to my comfortable cabin back at Seal Cove. I’ll really be sorry to leave it and their hospitality!

Today we are at $3935 of our $7000 goal for Lennon Recovery House! We’re so close to $4000. If you haven’t donated and would like to help push us into $4000, please check out the link.

To those that have already donated, thank you! Your donation will help certainly make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Thank you also for following along. If you’re interested in maybe doing this Island Walk yourself, or even sections of it, check out: https://theislandwalk.ca/
There’s a great map there, and you can see where I’ve travelled so far if that is of interest.

More adventures tomorrow!
Christine

Day 7 – The Island Walk

Thursday, September 9, 2021

I was rewarded for setting out early today with a gorgeous view.

It also set me up for a solid 24 kilometres at a decent pace.
Since I knew it would be a road walk from Gaspereaux to Murray River, along the same highway I was on yesterday (Route 17), I decided to listen to an audiobook to make the day more enjoyable. 

Long distance hiker Stephen Reynolds is an excellent, and often hilarious, writer. Just Out for a Walk, about his journey on The South West Coast Path, England’s longest waymarked footpath, was a treat to listen to as I put the kilometres behind me. At some parts, the narrator had me laughing out loud, which probably made those driving by me wonder!

I looked longingly at the forest beside the road as I walked by. Nice to have it there to view at least.

The time flew by and it was perfect walking weather for the first half of the day. Then the blue skies turned to cloud, the wind arrived and, eventually, rain. It fell quite heavily, but as it came after pleasant weather, and after I discovered a gorgeous spot off the road for a snack break, I didn’t really mind the unexpected downpour.

Sweet spot for a snack break
Snack spot was just a short climb down from this bridge

Before the rain, I also ran into Marilyn and Carolyn, fellow hikers going in the opposite direction and we stopped for a brief chat. 

By the time I arrived at Murray River – the official stop for the day at waypoint 29 – I was soaked through.

Then the rain let up and I got fries from the food truck at the harbour. The Confederation Trailhead, just up from there, provided a covered gazebo so I could finally sit down in a dry spot.

After eating, I changed into new socks, rolled up my jeans, put my pack back on and headed on for another 4 or so kilometres, directly on the tranquil trail.

I ended at the Munns Road – dirt road, route 305 intersection – where Bethany, my gracious host from Seal Cove campground, picked me up.

I was happy to be back at my cozy Campground cabin!

Our fundraising continues.

We are at $3890 for Lennon Recovery Home for folks struggling with addictions and mental health disorders.

I think of people with those struggles, some I’ve known, while I walk. Walking long distances gives you a lot of thinking time. And I know that what we are making happen for Lennon House with the funds will make a difference for residents there. Thank you again for your donations.

If you haven’t made a donation but would like to, or just want to learn more, this is the link.
Please share the blog and, more importantly, the fundraiser, with anyone you think might be interested.

More of the walking adventure to come!

Day 6 – The Island Walk

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

My spirits were high after a relaxed start to the day and blue skies as my brother drove me back to Montague, where I ended yesterday. Today’s stretch was from Montague to Gaspereaux, which came just short of 21 kilometres.

Montague

The walk through town heading out on Highway 17 was good, with a bit of a hill. After a few kilometres of road walking though, I felt myself losing motivation. My pack was heavier than it has been lately, too, as I had to resupply food and bring pretty much all my gear (when I am staying overnight for more than one day in one place, I have the luxury of leaving part of my gear but this wasn’t the case today.)
I was happy to see the left hand turn on to Lower Montague Road for a break from the highway. This was a quieter road with a view of the water. Much nicer!