P.E.I.'s Angie Arsenault has trekked some of the world's most famous trails, but she says she discovered what she looks for from the best of them closer to home this spring.
For the last two weeks she has been hiking the Island Walk, a trail created in 2019 that circles P.E.I.
"I travel all over the world to do these things. And why not do it right here?" said Arsenault.
"I consider myself someone who has seen a lot of P.E.I., but I can assure you that I had never seen it like this. It's been incredible."
The Island Walk was created by Bryson Guptill and totals 700 kilometres, incorporating some existing trails connected by entirely new routes.
Arsenault decided to go the full distance of the trail this spring because it seemed unlikely, given the pandemic, that she would have any other opportunities for a long trek this year. Hiking trails are a regular feature of her holidays. In the past, she has been on the El Camino in Spain and the Appalachian Trail in the U.S.
By comparison, the Island Trail did not disappoint.
"I think we forget sometimes just how beautiful of an Island we have, and what a mixture of views that we have," said Arsenault.
"Everyone knows their beaches, but our trails, and just like the fields that are being planted, all the different colours, different trees that we have. The views that we have here easily rival things that I've travelled around the world to look for."
And, as with trails she has hiked in other parts of the world, it is not just about the time spent walking.
With the entire trek planned for 21 days, Arsenault was on the trail just four to six hours a day. The rest of the time she was exploring local communities, hanging out in cafés. And while she was tenting much of the way, she also spent some nights at historic inns.
"I stayed at the Tignish Heritage Inn, and I love seeing places like that. And you can learn a little bit of the history," she said.
"When you're on a walk like this, it's not just about the walking, it's about the places that you stay in the evening time and you learn about them."
Arsenault started her trek on May 10 and will be done on Sunday, but she said one of the great things about the Island Walk is it does not have to be done all at once.
The Island Walk website breaks the trail down into a number of sections, each taking from four to 14 days. It also lays out the trail at a slower pace than Arsenault took, taking 32 days instead of 21.
There are even day hikes possible, Arsenault said.
For the most part, the trail sticks close to the coast, wrapping around West Prince, with two possible routes to Summerside, then around the North Shore to East Point, south to Wood Islands, and connecting back to Summerside along the South Shore.
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