PEI

P.E.I. man finishes test hike of walking trail circling the Island

While Islander Bryson Guptill has been hard at work for the past couple of years drafting a 700-kilometre trail around P.E.I., it wasn't until last month that he was able to try it out himself. 

Group walked up to 25 kilometres per day

From left: Bryson Guptill, Dan Grant, Nora Wotton, Rosa Froehlich and Marian Grant. (Submitted by Bryson Guptill)

While Islander Bryson Guptill has been hard at work for the past couple of years drafting a 700-kilometre trail around P.E.I., it wasn't until last month that he was able to try it out himself. 

Guptill set out on his journey on Oct. 1 and returned to Charlottetown on Oct. 31. He said the month-long walk offered helpful insights into how well the trail worked, as well as what could be improved or modified.  

"When we started the leaves were all green and when we finished they had all turned," he said. 

"We started off with four who were committed to doing the thing but then we had more than 30 people joining us on some days."

We started off with four who were committed to doing the thing but then we had more than 30 people joining us.— Bryson Guptill

He said about 50 people joined the walk at some point along the trail. But even more kept tabs on the group's progress on their devices at home. 

"We posted everyday what we were walking and a map segment on our GPS so that people could actually follow along," Guptill said. 

"There was a lot of people following us, hundreds and hundreds," he said.  

We'd like to see a few more people enjoy what P.E.I. has to offer.— Bryson Guptill

His map of trails uses existing routes and secondary roads on the Island. The group walked up to 25 kilometres per day. 

The trail, which loops around the Island as opposed to cutting straight through it, will ideally expose hikers to P.E.I.'s expansive ocean views, he hopes. 

'We'd like to see a few more people enjoy what P.E.I. has to offer," he said. "We're kind of unique, especially in North America, where we are obviously an island and walking around in a circle is a whole lot more interesting than just walking in a straight line.

"We had a plan for what we thought was an interesting route. We wanted to incorporate as many historic old roads as possible ... but then as we got closer to doing it we had people contacting us suggesting variations, and once we started walking we those were quite possible."

The map shows the most recent draft of the trail. A revised version with additional ocean views and dirt roads will be available for hikers to view in the coming weeks. (Bryson Guptill)

Since his journey, Guptill has added Basin Head Beach, along with more "red dirt roads" veering away from the familiarity of the Confederation Trail, to his map.

"When you're walking on the Confederation Trail you've got a very good surface," he said. "But we wanted to have a combination of really good surface and also some interesting new views that we hadn't seen before."

There were some great views of fall colours along the Confederation Trail from the National Park to Mount Stewart. (Island Trails)

Guptill said the initial plan was to stay at established hotels and bed and breakfasts, but as the group progressed they found themselves staying with strangers and making new connections. 

"There were some places where we were stopping for the night where there weren't any commercial accommodations available," he said. "So people in those areas started to contact us and suggest that we stay with them."

Guptill was pleased to see the trail could emulate the Camino trail in Spain, which allows visitors and locals to drop in on smaller rural towns and connect with people along the route. 

He said the hiking group will have a revised map, including input from his recent travels, to share with people in the coming weeks. 

The aim is for the trail to have several hundred people hike along it each year, Guptill said. 

He's hoping the province will help with signage.

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