Words and photos by Theresa Redmond
Island Trials put on their big person pants this year and tried something completely new, partnering with Fall Flavours on a series of catered walks. And really, what could be better than taking a scenic walk on the Confederation Trail between picturesque PEI towns while being served delicious food and entertained by local musicians along the way? For their first year collaborating, Island Trails and Fall Flavours chose three sections of the Confederation Trail in different parts of the Island: East Prince, North Shore and Three Rivers.
I was one of almost 100 people who signed up for the Three Rivers hike on September 26, just as the fall colours began to appear. This sold-out event was supported by a dozen Island Trails volunteers and community members ready to make sure that everyone was well cared for and had a great time.
I arrived at the Celebration Station (the former Train Station) in Cardigan, the trailhead for the walk, at 8 o’clock to the beautiful sounds of the Singing Strings and the tantalizing aroma of fritata, muffins, biscuits and lots of hot coffee and tea. After breakfast and catch up with friends and neighbours, we set off in a light drizzle which everyone – kitted out in rain jackets and a sense of humour– shrugged off.
The Confederation Trail is a great way to be introduced to longer distance walking. It is mostly flat, well-maintained and passes by many beautiful areas and through colourful villages. From Cardigan, we headed south-east toward Georgetown along the tree lined Trail, before veering south-west toward Brudenell. At the intersection with Brudenell Road, tents were set up to provide us with our mid-morning snack of yogurt and trail mix and juice. As we ate, we were entertained by Taylor Johnston who played guitar and sang regional tunes including some of my favourites from the Great Big Sea.
There was lots to interest us as we walked. Birds were still plentiful in early fall – eagles, herons as well as some warblers, but we were disappointed the resident barred owl wasn’t in his usual haunts. A few trees were already sporting spectacular crimson foliage. Crossing the picturesque Brudenell River bridge, we spotted some good-sized trout hanging out under overhanging branches at the water’s edge.
We followed the beautiful Montague River into town, convening at popular Bogside Pub for a fantastic sampler menu provided by a half-dozen local restaurants and of course a selection of excellent craft brew. Barry O’Brien, a local musician, played guitar and sang classic tunes while we enjoyed our lunch and socialized. Some couldn’t resist singing along which added to the fun.
While this was the first year for an Island Trails Food Hike, it won’t be the last. It was the first long walk for many on the Three Rivers hike, people who would normally not be confident walking that far without company and someone to help if they needed it. The Food Hikes also attracted experienced walkers who enjoyed walking with a group with the added bonus of food and music. So don’t forget to check out the Island Trails website from time to time – you don’t want to miss out on these or other adventures in the works.