© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Julie King, left, and Ed Talone have added a ribbon to the International Appalachian Trail on one of the trees in the Dromore Woodland Trail in Prince Edward Island.
Ed Talone started his hiking journey from Key West, Fla., in 2011.
Nine months and 6,500 kilometres later, he landed in Bangor, Me. At the same time, Julie King was doing some hiking through the International Appalachian Trail.
Their paths crossed and the rest is history.
“The hike started as a continuation, we left from Baxter Park and so far we’ve hiked over 2,100 km,” said King.
The International Appalachian Trail runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, parts of Quebec and Nova Scotia. It extends to the northeastern-most point of the Appalachian Mountains in Belle Isle, N.L.
Although the trail doesn’t have a recognized trail mark in Prince Edward Island, King and Talone are hoping to change that.
“We are hiking and establishing a new route. Areas considered are where there are either existing protruding Appalachian rock or the underlying bed rock has some association with the Appalachian,” King explained.
The duo has only taken two days off while on their trek to finish in Newfoundland.
“I keep joking that parts of me are creaking more because we’re not young. Parts of me are creaking but parts of me are getting stronger,” she laughed.
The most pressure hasn’t been physical, though.
“The overall toll on my body has been a lot less than the toll on my mind. Every day getting up and going hiking through bad weather, there’s only been one day I threw the pack off and had enough.”
Ten minutes later, she had it back on.
“Long-distance hiking is a
mental thing, because in the back of your mind you have a distant goal in your mind. There are
days you don’t want to walk 30 kilometres, you have to because that’s the next supply point,” said Talone.
“You just do it, you just grind out the miles. It’s all fun but it’s like anything else, you have days where it is easier than the other days.”
Over the past 25 years, Talone, from Maryland, has hiked over 90,000 km throughout North America.
“I love to walk, I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend and I’ve been like that since the first day I’ve hiked.”
As for King, who is from England, she has spent parts of her life in 10 different countries, including 18 years in Australia. Most recently she called Ohio home.
“I did my first backpacking trip when I was 19 and now I’m 57. I’ve done more hiking and trail running than I have backpacking. This is the first time I’ve done a backpacking trip of this distance,” she said.
“I love the outdoors and nature. I meditate on my feet, so for me it’s a lifestyle. If I didn’t have to work along the way, I could have just done this my whole life.”
King said some days, travelling as a pair is difficult.
“Some days are challenging when you’re with someone 24 hours a day. We’re still trying and learning how to communicate better. What an opportunity to learn how to communicate with someone better: you have no choice.”
During their time on the Island, they also hiked the entire 470
kilometres of the Confederation Trail.
“P.E.I. is beautiful. It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever hiked. The bugs are a challenge early in the morning but once the sun comes up, they back off. It has been a thrill to be here,” said Talone.
Talone said they have seen a lot of bald eagles while hiking through P.E.I. but the thing he likes most is the red clay.
“It really makes for wonderful photos, whether you’re biking or walking. It is unique. You don’t see this on any other trail I’ve ever been on,” he said. “I haven’t seen cultivated fields that go right to the water.”
The weather on P.E.I. surprised the duo.
“When we got to P.E.I there were a few days where it was 32 and 33 degrees. Compare that to Florida and there isn’t much of a difference,” said King.
“I just want to thank the people who are responsible for the trail system here, not for how well developed they are, but for how organized they are and how friendly the people are.”