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Prince Edward Island

Nancy Hill

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So, there's no snow for skiing, the lakes are frozen and the Pats are out of the running. What's to do? How about dreaming of your next kayaking adventure? Perhaps a trip to Prince Edward Island?

Prince Edward Island, even though geographically close to Nova Scotia, bears little resemblance to the steep rocky cliffs of that island. PEI's coast is a mix of soaring red cliffs and rolling white sandy dunes. There are lots of lonely barrier islands along the north shore where one can pitch a tent and not see a soul. On both of our trips we only saw one other kayaker along the coast near Cape Tryon.

We took two trips: one from Rustico heading east along the shore of Robinson's Island: the other heading West toward Cape Tryon from the French River.

Link to pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/nanchill/PEIKayak2006

The picture of the wind swept beach was taken from Robinson's Island, which is easily accessible from Rustico Harbor, or from land through the National Park and swarms of mosquitoes. This was an area we could see from the deck of our rental cottage in Cymbria. There were small breaking waves nearly every day for most of the day along the beautiful pink windswept beach. There was not a footprint to be seen (except for ours). The mosquitoes kept us from exploring inland as did the fear of wild beasts (just kidding) and a dense underbrush made it impossible to walk anywhere but on a path.

The trip along the coast from the French River to Cape Tryon was an unexpected pleasant surprise. We had planned to stay in the bay, as it was quite windy. Once out into the bay we paddled along the backside of the beautiful Cavendish Dunes. Breaking waves on the beach would have made for an uncomfortable, wet landing so we paddled back over to the beach near the outlet of the French River, next to a small lighthouse where we stopped to take a rest and decide on a plan. We realized that we would be sheltered from the wind if we paddled out into the Gulf of St Lawrence and proceeded up the coast heading west toward Cape Tryon.

We rounded a small headland and were completely awed by the scenery along the coast. Soaring red cliffs, cliff swallows flying in and out of the holes along the top of the cliffs, verdant, lush grass to the edge of the cliffs and small farmhouses in seas of waving grasses graced the landscape. Occasional small sea caves appeared below the towering cliffs. We had unwittingly found one of the most scenic kayaking spots on the coast.

Upon returning to the inlet we found that the tide was still on its way out. We had expected it to be in our favor by then and had to battle our way in in one of the most arduous paddles we have ever made. It was not until recently that we realized the tides in PEI are 24 hour tides, not the 12-ish cycle tides like we have here. D'oh!

We have barely made a dent in the possbile paddling locations on PEI and hope to explore other areas in our next trip. Though not a world-class paddling destination, it is was certainly beautiful where we were. The island is quite beautiful as well, being mostly rural, with many, many farms on rolling hills to the sea. The different crops and the red soil make for a beautiful patchwork of colors. From Central Massachusetts we make it to the Confederation Bridge (connecting New Brunswick to PEI) in about 11 hours. There are many, many cottages and camp grounds, including Provincial Park Campgrounds that are clean and inexpensive. Our favorite area for scenery is the area around Rustico, and French River, New Glasgow, and the Hunter River. The rolling hills, farms and meandering rivers make this area particularly beautiful. It is also close enough to Charlottetown for a trip to Gahan Pub House (microbrewery) for a beer and a hamburger.

See you there?


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