A good portion of this one simply fell out of Google Earth/Google Maps.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I tend to be a bit of a map and research nerd. Yup….me a nerd. Hard to believe, but true.
You did read map/research nerd, right? Great!!
It just happened that I was scanning PEI on Google Maps and spotted Boughton Island just sitting there and calling out to me; tempting me.
Now, what caught my adventurer’s eye wasn’t necessarily the island, but the sandbar that connected it to the mainland and the ocean that surrounded it.
I thought, “I wonder if its possible to get to the island across the sandbar.” A bit of quick research and I was able to find out that yes, it is possible to cross to Boughton Island, however only at low tide.
Now, an adventure was starting to form in my mind. We need to check out this Boughton Island spot!
One problem though. Where we live in Midland, tides in the harbour aren’t such a big issue. In fact, they’re no issue at all.
But, I knew here tides could be a bit of a tiny concern. And perhaps freezing cold ocean water too. Undaunted, I found tide tables on a government website and was off “nerding” them up.
Lynn on the other hand simply asked someone on that PEI Facebook group, “which table would represent tides at Boughton Island?” The reply was swift and accurate, “use the Georgetown table, as it is the closest tide reporting station.”
All kidding aside, I did learn a lot from researching tides movements and speaking with a couple of people.
As the tables show and was explained to me, there is a short window of about 5 to 6 hours between one high tide and the next low tide and another 5 to 6 hours from that low tide to the next high tide.
Ideally, the optimum time would be about half-way between the first high and low tide of the day in question to half-way between that low tide and the next high tide of the same day. A period of about 5 to 6 hours.
We were planning to go on Thursday, June 15 in the morning. So, from the tables, the first high tide for us would occur at 2:30 am on Thursday; the first low tide would be at 7:27 am; and followed by the next high tide at 1:15 pm on Thursday afternoon. Get the idea. Every 5 to 6 hours it’s either a high tide or a low tide situation.
Now, I can be pretty out there at times and “push the envelope” a bit, but there wasn’t any way I was about to take Lynn:
- out onto a sandbar
- in an ocean
- I knew zero about
- in the middle of the night.
So… our optimum window was now getting smaller. Thus, we hatched the plan to get there before 8:30 in the morning and get started. We would watch for the tide to start doing its thing and try to be off the island and the sandbar around 11:30am to 12:30pm.
So, off we left the hotel shortly after 7:00 am for the trip with coffee in mugs and Clif Bars in hand heading to the “end of the road” arriving at the “trailhead” sometime around 8:30 am. I’m using “end of the road” and “trailhead” to suggest that, “yes” it was the end of the road and “no” there was no trailhead.
Let me say to find the “trailhead” was a bit of an exercise itself. Our rental car had a Sat Nav system. No good – couldn’t find location…..thus useless as…..$%$ on a bull. I had my personal GPS which sort of helped… a bit…. kind of. Plus, I added google maps on my phone into the mix as well. Between three expensive pieces of “state of the art” technology and an old school but trustworthy paper PEI Provincial Road Map, we finally found the “end of the road” and the “trailhead.”
The distance across the sandbar connecting Boughton Island to the mainland is about 1.5 kilometres, resulting in about a 2-kilometre one-way hike from the car to the island proper.
So, off we went.
From where our car was parked that’s Boughton Island was off in the distance.
There is a trail to get started with… sort of. It was soon to vanish!
Low tide along the beach, with Boughton Island still a way in the distance.
Walking along the beach area close to the water’s edge was actually quite easy and enjoyable as the sand or ocean bottom was very firm to hike along.
Once getting out onto the sandbar proper it was like a little bit of paradise. There were no sounds other than some seabirds, the sound of the ocean and the quiet rumble of the motors of fishing boats off in the horizon.
In fact, it would have been exceedingly enjoyable just to park yourself in a beach chair; read a book for the day and perhaps enjoy a beverage or two. All the time recognizing that in less than 6 hours you and your chair may be floating away.
This was generally the view along the sandbar for its 1.5-kilometre length until we got to the island itself. At which point the beach and the land started to change.
There was a lot of broken and washed up fishing gear along the beach. This is only a small sample of what we found.
Except for this one. We found a perfectly intact fishing buoy. I said to Lynn, wouldn’t it be neat if we could find out who it belongs to.
Lynn posted this picture to the Facebook group “We Love Prince Edward Island” and almost immediately got back a response. The buoy came off a lobster boat named “Now N Then” and under the watch of Captain Paul Fitzpatrick, and based out of Launching Harbour, PEI.
I’m in the process of writing a separate post about the buoy, the boat and the people.
For our whole time out on the sandbar and island, we were the only ones there. We saw no other footprints or tracks other than these. I followed then until then went up the cliff face and into the dense underbrush.
After getting back, I did some research and can say that the tracks are likely coyote from a number of perspectives:
- longer nails
- the outer toes are more behind the front toes. In dogs, the outer toes are more upfront and to the side
- being able to draw an “X” in the paw without touching the heel pad.
Start of the changing terrain along the beach
I scrambled up the slope at one point to see if it was possible to go further inland. Once at the top, I was met with essentially an impregnable wall of fallen timber, thorny vines and brush.
After we got home, I re-examined the Google Earth imagery and thought I could see a trail that might have been able to be accessed from a different location at the end of the sandbar.
That will, however, have to wait until another visit.
For a friend who has cornered the market on the colour purple, this is the only “purple” shell we saw. (But don’t tell her, we weren’t really looking all that hard!)
One piece of “sea glass” that Lynn found. Sea glass starts off as bits and pieces of glass from broken bottles, broken tableware, or even shipwrecks. The bits are rolled and tumbled in the ocean for years until all of their edges are rounded off, and the slickness of the glass has been worn to a frosted appearance. To our understanding, it is quite the hobby of hunting the beaches and collecting it.
As you can appreciate, there where 1000’s of shells and such along the beach. We did manage to pick up some, but I can’t seem to find any pictures of the really good ones. Guess this will have to do.
This was about as far as we had decided to adventure to.
At this point, we were approximately two to three kilometres from the car. Making it about a kilometre of beachfront on the island to hike; about 1.5 kilometres of rapidly receding sandbar; with more or less 500 metres through a swampy area that I didn’t know if it would be underwater or not.
As we had spent the last hour or so gingerly stepping over rocks, trees and debris and as this picture is showing the tide had well started to return and we decided to turn around and head back.
A selfie on the way out, in case it was our last!
The result of life in the wild. The one on the right we figured out to be a blue heron.
Pretty much self-explains itself.
Any footprints we made going didn’t exist on the return trip.
This picture is just before we finished returning. At this point, the tide had come in approximately 30 to 40 feet up the beach on the sandbar and there was still another hour and a bit before the predicted high tide.
We worked our way off the beach and into the swamp area, hoping to connect with….
….which we finally did. A short walk from this point took us back to our car.
So, what did I think of the 3 to 4 hours we spent on Boughton Island?
One of the things we decided early on was, we weren’t necessarily looking to hike trails that would present something similar to what we’re done back home. Not to diminish the trail system on the island and to which I understand is fantastic, but we wanted to do and try something different.
Boughton Island certainly accomplished that for us. Was it the most difficult trail or adventure we’ve done – likely not; did it present a high level of risk – I guess with oceans and tides the potential is always there, but not as bad in this situation as originally anticipated.
But, it presented a facet of Prince Edward Island that was I think, a bit out of the mainstream “tourist thing.”
It delivered a definitive wildness and a calling to return and explore more. Hiking along the beach had a very calming effect and a real connection to nature. Same as canoe tripping in Northern Ontario; serenity with the sound of water and wind. Exceedingly good for the soul. But, scrambling up that beach front cliff and seeing what appeared to be unattainable, sort of edged me towards thinking “I bet you are attainable.”
Guess if we’re keeping score, the Island is ahead by 1 after the first period.
So, it was unfortunate that I didn’t locate a suitable entry point to get off the beach and explore inland. But on the other hand, we likely would have had to stay through the next tide cycle. So, who knows.
Would we go back….in a heartbeat!
Thanks for reading.