My ears immediately pricked up: if I am a lover of islands, I am doubly a lover of the islands-of-islands, and also a lover of visits to seldom-visited places, so this was right up my alley. I immediately registered my interest, something I timed perfectly as the CBC publicized the opportunity the next day, and the list of spots immediately filled to the brim and over.
Which is how I found myself standing on the end of the Hennebury Road in Rice Point this morning at 10:30 a.m. sharp, pack filled with water and two granola bars, staring at the feet of the other intrepid to compare my footwear choice to theirs.
There was, I learned quickly, no consensus on the appropriate footwear, as what I saw ranged from bare feet (sported by the extra-especially-intrepid Ed MacDonald) to flip-flops to water shoes to rubber boots to people, like me, who decided to make no concession whatsoever to the environs and wear what we wear every day.
My small intrepid sub-group consisted of Sandy (the driver), Andrea (the instigator), Ruth (heretofore known only in lore as “my good friend Ruth” in frequent mentions by Andrea) and Ruth’s cousin Kim. If you are an expert Islander, you should have no trouble triangulating their full identities.
After a briefing from Island Nature Trust staffers, our group of 40 headed down a cut in the cliffs to the beach. Low tide was coming up at about 11:40 a.m., but there was a mostly-not-underwater path clear once we’d rounded the point and walked by Camp Seggie, where we could see our destination in the distance:
The advice from Island Nature Trust on footwear was:
Please wear footwear and clothing that you don’t mind getting wet or possibly muddy.
I must admit that, before we set out, I’d imagined that I would be able to successfully hopscotch from sandbar to sandbar and remain completely dry. This was not the case: the way was certainly low-tidey, but there were periods of wading (never beyond my calves) that required an adjustment to my general aversion to mud and wetness. When on the tidal flats, do as the tidal flatters do.
This is what our route across and back looked like, tracked by OsmAnd on my phone:
The weather was about as beautiful as you could possibly ask for, the company collegial and entertaining, and once I got used to having wet feet I decided that I should walk around with wet feet all the time.
We made landfall on St. Peter’s Island at 11:34 a.m., making the journey from Island to island almost exactly 60 minutes. We then walked around the western tip and along its south shore. The tide was now fully low, and the way was clear, if a little slippery.
Here’s Andrea, Ruth and Kim making their way:
While many among us were demonstrably more hardcore birders, naturalists, and rock-hounds, I was happy to find that our sub-group was comfortable ambling and chatting and having a sit-down.
I tried to take photos that might capture the wonders of St. Peters Island and its coast, but they ended up mostly being washed out and insufficiently capturing of the rough grandeur. Which is okay by me, as the experience did seem to be one that needs to be experienced to capture its true essence.
We reached the farthest point of our journey just before 12 noon, and then retraced our steps to the launching-off point where we stopped for a group photo:
The way back, even though only an hour after low tide, was somewhat more rough-going, with deeper pools to wade through (this might have been, in part, because we lollygagged and paid insufficient attention to the smarter hikers who were better at wending). Here’s what the view of Prince Edward Island looked like from the shore of St. Peters Island:
We set off from the St. Peters Island coast at 12:30 p.m. and arrived on the “mainland” at 1:20 p.m., making better time on the way back than there, despite the wading.
It was an exceptional experience that I’d recommend to anyone: joining Island Nature Trust and therein getting a subscription to their newsletter is perhaps the best way to keep abreast of your next opportunity.
(The benefit of going with Island Nature Trust is that they’ve got the experience to pick a date with the right combination of tides and winds; there’s nothing to prevent you from going over independently, but you run the risk of misjudging the timing and being stranded for 12 hours until the next low tide).