Dan Hikes/Climbs Tumbledown Mountain in Western Maine

Annually I hike some crazy mountains in Maine with my teaching buddy Paul.  We’ve busted a gut for five hours hiking the Appalachian Trail to Old Speck Mountain; we challenged Borestone Mountain near Monson.   Today it’s Tumbledown Mountain near Weld, north of Rumford.

At 430A, I wake, polish off a bowl of oatmeal, and head north from York – an hour by car to meet Paul.  Our first order of business is to find a small town breakfast place.  Heading north on route 4, we cross over the Androscoggin River from Livermore Falls into the town of Jay.  Immediately on our left, we see a sign for the Mill Street Café.  Lisa welcomes us in to what was once the old office building of the main mill when making paper by International Paper ruled the roost.

Paul at our window side table at the Mill Street Cafe, Jay, Maine

Paul at our window side table                          at the Mill Street Cafe, Jay, Maine

With the Café all to ourselves, we ponder our breakfast choices.  For me, pancakes are a temporary, deceptive pleasure; delectable because of their cake-like nature, but I’m left hungry an hour later; that will not do when we are hiking Tumbledown Mountain, a three thousand foot peak, on a 90 degree day.  When breakfasting out, my default meal is two eggs over easy, home fries, and the most exotic toast they have.  Today it’s multi-grain.

A "Real Man's" Breakfast

A “Real Man’s” Breakfast

To top it off, Lisa is a $5 waitress.  Though the total bill is a very modest $12, we bump up the tip because of her engaging personality and excellent service.  She’s just a pro.

Traveling north on route 142, we stop at the town of Weld to resupply.  At 9A it’s already 85 degrees with temperatures across the state of Maine today going north of 90 degrees.

Paul at the trailhead parking lot a little before 10A

Paul at the trailhead parking lot a little before 10A

Driving 5.8 miles down the Byron Road (a dirt road), we park, lather on the sunscreen, and load our backpacks with extra water, turkey sandwiches, apple slices, gorp, and cut-in-half baby carrots.  The trail begins a mere 150 feet from the parking area.

Trekking sticks make the man (sometimes)

Trekking sticks make the man,                             I delude myself

The guidebook says the 1.9 mile Loop Trail to the summit has 1900 feet of elevation gain and takes an hour and forty-five minutes.  Walking into the woods, we thankfully find the trail almost entirely shaded, though very rocky.

Puncheons (wood planks) welcome us to the Loop Trail

Puncheons (wood planks) welcome us to the Loop Trail

The lower Loop Trail

The lower Loop Trail

Following the blue blazes, I use my trekking sticks for balance as well as it being an added workout for my arms.  In short order we go from a slight elevation gain to stepping up and over rocks.

The Loop Trail starts to take control

The Loop Trail starts to take control

And then it gets serious.  Without a slide rule we estimate the trail to be at least a 60% incline.  Grabbing handholds in the rocks, we scramble over mini-boulders and feel all of the 90 degree sun in our soaked shirts.  Wearing Under Armour rather than cotton, I find my shirt wet, but not clammy and clingy. My lightweight Nike shorts keep me cool and, I know what you are thinking, make you cool!

Looking back towards Webb Lake

Looking back towards Webb Lake from the Loop Trail

As I trod/climb/grasp upward, all I see is rocks, the sloped ground in front of me, and occasionally a glimpse of Paul’s hiking boots.  Putting away my trekking sticks, I find them of little use at such a steep angle.  I know that the trekking sticks will be a godsend on the way down for these creaky knees of mine.

Ready to mount the final assault

Ready to mount the final assault

The trail levels off in sight of the top, but another steep climb lies before us.  We have decided there is no way we’ll climb down this mountain.  Though it means an extra mile and a half walking on the Byron Road, we can double back by way of the Brook Trail after getting to Tumbledown Pond.

This is no hike.  This is a Himalayan climb sans Sherpas.  The pitch is severe and we grab rocks to make our way to the top.  We have heard stories about the “Fat Man’s Misery” crack through the mountain.  It’s a side trail that we mistake for the main trail.  Paul, ever fearless and intrepid, heads in while I sit back thinking there is no way in God’s green earth I am going in that hole/tunnel of rock.  I’ll climb back down before I enter that devil’s den.  Paul returns with news that this can’t be the trail for it ends with a fissure to the outside.

Paul exploring the "Fat Man's Misery"

Paul exploring the “Fat Man’s Misery”

Relieved, but wondering what the hell Paul has got me into, I follow him as we backtrack and push upward.  And then we see “The Chimney” opening.  The guidebook describes this tunnel through the mountain as not safe for novices, children, or dogs.  Really!   65 year olds beware.   With nowhere else to go, Paul heads into “The Chimney” and I follow.

Skirting the cliffs

Skirting the cliffs on the Loop Trail

There are three rungs of rebar strategically placed within the ascending stone tunnel of mountain.   Paul takes his backpack up, then returns for mine.  He’s just a flat out stud.  Draw your own conclusions about me.   I have no choice but to enter the maw of the monster.

What 60% looks like!

What 60% incline looks like!

I bang my head on the overhang rock but maintain my balance.  Paul, a spry 50-something, made it; there’s at least a chance that I can.  Grabbing the first rung to my left, I see light coming from above.   I’m trusting it’s not my Maker calling my name.  So far so good.  A couple feet higher to the right is the second rung. I step on to the first and swing my foot up to the second.  Needing all my flexibility, I do reach it and push up with my right foot.  I reach for the third rung and see daylight above.  I am not going to die.

Coming out of "The Chimney"

Coming out of “The Chimney”

Pulling me through, Paul beams his amazing grin that broadcasts, Isn’t this the best! 

It’s very cool.  And Paul, you got me through!  It took us two hours and fifteen minutes, 30 more than what the guide book says.  It must have been a mountain goat that wrote this entry.

Webb Lake from Tumbledown Mountain

Webb Lake from Tumbledown Mountain

Loop Trail - Byron Notch Road CAUTION Trail is very steep and difficult. Not recommended for children or dogs.

Loop Trail – Byron Notch Road                                                     CAUTION                                                                Trail is very steep and difficult.                          Not recommended for children or dogs.

On ridge trails, we luxuriate in their levelness and head to the right towards Crater Lake, now named Tumbledown Pond.  Spotting swimmers on the island in the pond, we are later told that it is the highest pond in Maine.

Level terrain!

Level-ish terrain at last!

Snaking our way down to the pond, we find this hiking to be child’s play after the Loop Trail.

Idyllic Crater Lake

Idyllic Tumbledown Pond

High school kids and families dot the shoreline.  If they are here, descending the Brook Trail clearly is doable.  We relax over lunch with our feet in the pond with a light wind and an air temperature a comfortable 80 degrees.

Tumbledown Pond (nee Crater Lake)

Shoreline of Tumbledown Pond (nee Crater Lake)

At first the 1.9 mile Brook Trail has us scrambling down boulders, but soon it gently slopes through the forest and eventually takes us on an eroded, rock strewn trail that was once a logging road.  

Descending the Brook Trail

Descending the Brook Trail

We see families and young campers pass us on the trail heading for an afternoon swim.  As we near the end of our hike, I think how one-to-one hiking is just the ticket for we introverts.  We make it to the Byron Road in 75 minutes, exactly an hour less than our ascent.

Brook Trail

Brook Trail

Since we have come down the Brook Trail, we have 1.5 miles of walking on this very sunny, very dusty, very gravelly Byron Road ahead to Paul’s Honda.

Byron Road back to Loop Trail parking area

Byron Road back to Loop Trail parking area

I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed hoping a car will pass our way and pick us up.  Though, walking this hot, dusty road is a small price to pay for not descending the vertical hell of the Loop Trail.  After 10 minutes, the first car rumbles by and we yell.   The driver pauses, thinks we are kidding, and starts to pull away; so we whoop it up even louder and he gets the point that we’d love a ride; as a fellow hiker, he welcomes us into the backseat.  Today we all are fellow members of the community of hikers.

Packed and ready to head for home on the coast of Maine, we have one final stop.  The west fork of the Swift River.

West fork of Swift River, Maine

West fork of Swift River, Maine

Paul has always wanted to pan for gold and I think “What the hey.”  The water is refreshingly cool as we dunk ourselves in the rushing stream.

Cooling my jets in the west fork of the Swift River

Cooling my jets in the west fork             of the Swift River

A gold panning family offers us tips to swirl the water in the pan and let the heavier gold settle to the bottom.  It takes far more patience than I have and in the end we leave with some fool’s gold and mica.   Keep your day job if you think panning for gold will bring you riches.

Paul panning for gold

Paul panning for gold

Spent, we head for home.  Let’s not mince words:  The Loop Trail is a tough, rugged, nasty hike.  It takes your soul.  It’s just mean.

That said, we did it!

Click on this “one minute video” of the Loop Trail hike to Tumbledown Mountain.  What the filmmaker describes as “Fat Man’s Misery” is in fact “The Chimney” that I described.  It’s not the walk in the park the video might suggest.

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Dan and Hannah Bike the Confederation Trail on Prince Edward Island on Day 3 of 3 (The home stretch)

We ask Gerard, our innkeeper at the MacDonald’s of Maple Hill B and B here in Mount Stewart, PEI, if we can have breakfast at 7A so we can get an early start.  He twinkles, That’ll mean I’ll just have to set the alarm a little earlier

After nine hours of sleep, we wake to the same wonderful forecast: no rain and temps in the low 60s.  Showers are predicted for tomorrow and “serious rain” the day after.  We know how lucky we’ve been.  We have organized our trip so that after days of biking 70 and 60 miles, we have just 45 miles today.

Though we think Gerard is married, he is the only one we see and he is up to the task.  Not given a choice for breakfast, we are delighted with his eggs over easy with toast and three strips of bacon.  Hannah wins big time for she knows she’ll get all my bacon this morning.  Yogurt and fruit complete the menu and we are ready for the home stretch.

Two days done, one to go

Two days done, one to go

Panniers packed, we ride with no urgency at all.  Our room for the night at Points East Beach Motel in North Lake is set so we pedal easily towards Morell (population 336) on red dirt trails.  After 15 kilometres we run across this small town with a restaurant, bank, and most importantly a Co-op.  This medium size grocery enables us to buy lunch for the day: potato salad, peanut butter for our Ritz crackers, bran muffins, and one of Hannah’s very favorites – crunchy cheese curls.  We learn Canadians no longer use pennies.  In transactions, they round up or down as the case may be.

3 H at Coop (2)

The trail heads to the Gulf of St. Lawrence for some seven kilometres of coastal riding; it’s the only time we bike by the ocean water.

Confederation Trail near St. Peters, PEI

Confederation Trail near St. Peters, PEI

It’s our third day of biking.  We have no zip, just a resolve to complete the journey to Elmira.

3 H on CT (4)

As we ride, Hannah says this has been her best vacation ever.  How can you beat all-day exercising…exploring new areas that are within a day’s drive of home… interacting with the locals?  We’ve made this trip one of interdependence, not independence.  After exercising all day, we slept in comfort and were fed each morning.   And to complement that, the two introverts have each other.

40 kilometres to go

40 kilometres to go

Staying at B and Bs has been an inspired choice.  Rather than end the biking day at a motel where we would mostly keep to ourselves, B and Bs have us meeting engaging Islanders who show their warmth and beat any feelings of isolation.

Hannah can smell the barn

Hannah can smell the barn

On the trail today, we talk about living lives of daring or lives of comfort.  What choices do we each make that frame the substance of our lives?  We like our routines (e.g., breakfast at home while Hannah writes notes and I read the paper, working out at the gym, or biking country roads).   Daring?  Do we meander beyond our comfort zone?  There isn’t a chance we’d go to Europe.  Months in Florida in the winter are just not for us.  Yet this trip without the safety net of a car at our constant disposal or the full knowledge we can actually bike 170 miles or what the weather will be has added a positive bit of daring to our lives.

273 kilometres later!

273 kilometres later!

Fini.  To me, it is no surprise that we made it.  In the months before hitting the Confederation Trail, I wondered how tough biking 7 to 8 miles per hour could really be, even if it is all day.  It turned out the ride was all very doable for two reasonablely fit 65 year olds.   Maybe we were just lucky?  The cool and rain-free weather certainly added to our enjoyment.  The Islanders in the right spot at the right time brought us conversations that we sought.  I must admit our relative affluence made it all possible.

Finito!

Finito!

At the train station in Elmira, Lynne the attendant offers to take our picture at the final sign.

Tignish to Elmira, PEI

Tignish to Elmira, PEI

She signs and awards us certificates for our achievement.

3 D and H certificates

3 D certificate

No lie, we are glad there is no additional day of biking.  We’ve done what we set out to do and no longer have the interest or the drive to do any more.

PEI map

It’s another five kilometres of biking to the end of the island at North Lake for our final night’s stay on PEI at Points East Beach Motel.

3 Point Beach Motel sign

After three perfect biking days, storm clouds are forming

After three perfect biking days, storm clouds are forming

Again there are no services in Elmira (population very few), so we drive twenty kilometres west to Souris (population 1300 – French for mice – The town’s name was provided by early settlers when a plague of mice invaded the area.) to the town Co-op for salads and fruit for our evening meal.  A bottle of wine will begin our celebratory evening.

We celebrate Amy and her family tonight and dedicate the third day of our ride to them.  It is we who are the fortunate ones: to have the health and resources to make such a ride in support of her family.

Hannah and Amy

Hannah and Amy

Thanks to over 50 family and friends who supported our fundraising ride, we raised over $1600 for the Paquette Family.  You will be happy to hear that they are planning a family vacation to Disney World in the near future.

Dan and Amy

Dan and Amy

One final note.  We hope you will consider reading further about PEI in the children’s classic, Dan of Green Gables.

D as Anne of Green Gables

Dan and Hannah Bike the Confederation Trail on Prince Edward Island on Day 2 of 3

While waiting for Summerside Bike Works (SBW) to open at 8A, we feast on breakfast at Willow Green Farm B and B.  As a cereal guy from way back, I love that they have Corn Flakes, a current personal favorite, on the side table.  Surprisingly, we get a little of old Tempe, Arizona (the town where Hannah and I lived for the first ten years of our marriage) with huevos rancheros wraps (scrambled eggs served in hot corn tortillas smothered in salsa).  With first and seconds of homemade oatmeal raisin bread toast, we are amply fueled for our 90 kilometre ride to Mount Stewart, PEI.

Off to SBW, one of only three bicycle shops on the entire island of Prince Edward, for a replacement tire and tube for Hannah’s hybrid bicycle, I once again pump up Hannah’s deflated rear tire.  As we approach, we see a small sign on the door labeled Summerside Bike Works on what is no more than a glorified two-car garage.  Riding up to the front door that seems surprisingly quiet for the start of a business day, we are stunned to read on this Wednesday that shop hours are 8A to 4P Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday!

We just smile.  Our sure thing just dissolved.  It’s 70 kilometres to the nearest bike shop in Charlottetown.  If pumping her tire every few kilometres is what it takes to get to Mount Stewart, we’ll do it.  Then again, today might just be our day to hitchhike.

Remembering having passed the Summerside Dodge dealership on the way to SBW, we reverse direction, ever hopeful, but with a touch of desperation.  We ask the lady at the counter if anyone can repair bike tires.  Without hesitation, she points us to the garage, and Nathan appears.

Hannah watching Nathan work on her tire

Hannah watching Nathan work on her tire

Having no patch kits for bicycles, Nathan puts Andrew’s (from Dennis Motors yesterday) patched tube back on Hannah’s rear tire.  In the process he finds stones in the tire itself and thinks that they may have been the source of the slow leak.  The stones could have come from our tube changing on the trail outside of O’Leary, PEI yesterday.  Pumping it up to 65 PSI, he gives us a rocking solid tire.  When I go to pay for his 30 minutes of work, the counter lady says, No charge.  We hurry to find Nathan and slip him $10 American.

Hannah and Nathan with her healed bicycle

Hannah and Nathan with her healed bicycle

We have another beautiful day in paradise with not a bit of rain in the forecast.  It’s blue skies with cumulous clouds and temps near 60F this first week of June lie before us.  There will be hills today, but, as a one-time railroad bed, the trail will be no greater than a 2% grade.  The knowledge that we’ve done 110 kilometres yesterday gives us the confidence we can handle today’s 90 kilometres, no problemo.

We cross our fingers, pack our panniers at Willow Green Farm, press our thumbs to Hannah’s back tire for reassurance that it is still holding air (she again has no spare tube), and head for Confederation Trail.

Blue skies on the way to Kensington, PEI

Blue skies on the way to Kensington, PEI

A gentle 15 kilometres to Kensington passing potato fields and single family homes kicks off our day.  Gun-shy, I can’t not look over at Hannah’s back tire every few minutes; to my unobservant eye it seems fine.

Backyards bracket the trail

Backyards bracket the trail

Stopping in Kensington, still wondering if her tire will hold air this time, we press it and find it as solid as a pair of six pack abs.

In no hurry and bursting with confidence in Hannah’s back tire, we are 15 kilometres down with 75 to go.  Brimming with confidence, we head to the Hunter River hills.

Potato fields east of Kensington

Potato fields east of Kensington

With two more hours of biking to our lunch stop at Hunter River, we take the trail through Freetown, Emerald and Fredericton, which have more cows than people.  We are coming to the hills and sense the climb ahead.  The satisfaction of one day of biking under our belts literally energizes our legs.  Our plan to bike the trail in three days seems well within reach.

The trail rises before us

The trail rises before us

Beginning our six kilometre climb, we still can talk side by side; distracted by the fields, forests, and hills, we totally forget about Hannah’s back tire.

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The grade is not so steep that we have to get out of our bike seats to pump standing up, but the climb is steady, Eddie.  But we are ready, Freddy.  For bikers, there’s nothing truer than what goes up must come down.  We will soon be paid back in full with some serious downhill coasting. 

2 CT climbing near Hunter River (6)

Hills of Hunter River

Hills of Hunter River

At Hunter River (population 319) we break for a 30 minute lunch.  Ever so confident, we press our thumbs to Hannah’s back tire; Nathan has worked his magic in a big way as we are now 45 kilometres into our 90 for today.  Cooling down, we pull on our sweatshirts at the picnic table to eat half of our Subways subs as we look over the Hunter River Valley.

2 D at Hunter River CT sign

Before we left Maine, I just didn’t think about the fact that we’d be biking all day.  If we have no incidents, we’ll be in the saddle for 7 to 8 hours today.  We are not pressing to make miles; we talk, take pictures, and look forward to a cold recreational beverage in the evening as just reward for a job well done.

Dan along the Confederation Trail

Dan along the Confederation Trail

Riding the ridge, I find it stunning how railroad architects “smoothed” out the hills and weaved the trail around the modest “peaks” of PEI.

Hannah at the York, PEI crossing

Hannah at the York, PEI crossing

Riding to Mount Stewart,PEI

Riding to Mount Stewart,PEI

By 5P we arrive in Mount Stewart (population 312) with a plan to find a Co-op to buy fixings to make green salads with cottage cheese and a side of potato salad for dinner tonight.  We’ll treat ourselves with some barbecue chips to go with a bottle of fine local wine.  Pulling off the red dirt Confederation Trail on Route 22, we see first one restaurant boarded up, then two more closed for good.  Without even the most miniscule of grocery stores or gas station/convenience stores in town, we have no choice but to ride on to the MacDonald’s of Maple Hill B and B to get the scoop on Mount Stewart.  We later learn that folks routinely shop in the capital, Charlottetown, PEI, 25 minutes away by car.  Bummed, we connect the dots and realize that there will be no celebratory glass of wine tonight.

Driveway of MacDonald of Maple Hill B and B

Driveway of MacDonald of Maple Hill B and B

Our Innkeeper Gerard welcomes us to his home, which is the B and B.  A retired high school science teacher, he warms to conversation and enjoys his guests.

With her gentle voice that belies her formidable personality, Hannah asks, Is there any place where we can get some wine or beer?  He smiles and says, Wine is going to be a problem, but I have a couple of beers for you.  We’ll pay.  But he says, I can’t charge you because I’d need a liquor license to do so.  You are welcome to the beer; I’ve had it in the fridge since Christmas.  Canadians!

MacDonald's of Maple Hill B and B

MacDonald’s of Maple Hill B and B

We shower and return to his living room for cold beer.  After eight hours on the Confederation Trail, it tastes so sweet.  Gerard is an extrovert and fills us in with details of his MacDonald heritage and the fact that high school grads can’t find jobs in the country towns; they go to Charlottetown or to Canada’s western provinces to make the big money working the tar sands.

And then Hannah steps to the plate once again.

Gerard says he’s off to a church meeting, but before he goes, Hannah says, By any chance could I talk you out of another beer?  He smiles and says, In fact I have two more.  He leaves and we sip the second beer ever so slowly.  Hannah smiles and says, That was the best “second beer” of my life.  We’ll leave a tip on the bedside table when we set sail tomorrow.

Retiring to the queen room, we are in bed at 830A with my right knee barking ever so softly but fully committed to the 45 miles of biking we have to the end of the Confederation Trail in Elmira tomorrow.

We dedicate our ride on Day 2 to two Islanders, Nathan and Gerard.  Thank you, Nathan, we made it the 90 kilometres to Mount Stewart today because of you.  And Gerard, once we arrived you were the right person at the right time for us to celebrate 200 kilometres down and 73 to go.

Dan and Hannah on the Confederation Trail (Afternoon of Day 1 of 3)

After we put in the new tube after lunch, we find that in a little over an hour later Hannah’s back tire is flat again.  It’s 230P now and we’ve biked 71 kilometers, but we have 39 more to go to arrive at our B and B for the night.  Seated by the side of the road in Ellerslie, we wonder what is next as we finish off another energy bar.  Though her spare tube is flat, on the bright side, we did make it 15 kilometres on it.  Could we just pump up her tire every few kilometres and make it to Summerside, PEI by the evening?

39 kilometres from Summerside, PEI with the Rite Shop in the distance

39 kilometres from Summerside, PEI with the Rite Shop in the distance

If not, we could hitchhike?   Before I went into the Rite Shop convenience store, I saw a pickup truck that could easily hold our two bikes.   As I left off in the last blog, Don, the meat guy at the Rite Shop, is finishing filling our water bottles.  As I wait, I mention that we have a flat tire.  A flat tire? he responds.  Just go down to Dennis Motors, it’s about a mile down the road and they’ll fix you up.   Without me asking, Don calls Dennis Motors, then turns to me and says, They are ready for you.  Who knew a car dealer patches bike tubes?  Who knew they’d do it immediately?

I rush back to Hannah, pump up her back tire, and direct her to Dennis Motors, just a mile up the Ellerslie Road.  As Hannah pedals purposefully ahead, I pack my panniers and follow soon after.

We wait at Dennis Motors

We wait at Dennis Motors

Andrew of Dennis Motors steps out and immediately takes Hannah’s bike into the garage.  In ten minutes he returns with a thread of wire not a quarter inch long that he pulled from the tire itself.  Voila!  He found the source of our trouble!  That explains the slow leak.

Andrew repairs one tire, pumps it to 65 PSI, and patches the other one so we have a spare for our trip.  And get this!   For 45 minutes of work and two patch kits, he charges us $23.  You got to love Canadians.  At Dennis Motors, they call ahead to the Summerside Bike Shop and we learn it closes today at 4P.  It’s now 330P, which means there is no sense rushing to Summerside to try to beat an evening closing time at the bike shop.

Our hero Andrew with Hannah

Our hero Andrew with Hannah

Beyond pleased by this fortuitous turn of events, we can’t believe our good fortune.  What would we have done if Dennis Motors didn’t just happen to be down the road?  That’s right, we would have done my first hitchhiking since 1971 when, as a 23 year old with shoulder length hair, I ended up in the Knoxville, Tennessee city jail for hitchhiking on my way from Atlanta to Ohio.  (That’s another story.)

On the red crushed Confederation Trail, we bike toward Wellington (population 382) 19 kilometres away.  Though we’ve been on the trail for more than seven hours, we have nearly three more hours of bicycling still ahead of us.  Thankfully, the prevailing winds continue to push us east to Summerside.

Just 19 kilometres from Summerside, PEI

Just 19 kilometres from Summerside, PEI

As we pedal this afternoon, there are more quiet times as we ride.  I think how fortunate I am to have found Hannah, who wants to bike all these miles and is athletically able and fit enough at 65 to do so.   We met on the tennis courts at the College of Wooster in Ohio; she a physical education major.  I had no idea we’d be so well-matched.

Leaving Wellington (which is again a crossroads town with no services visible in either direction), we take a break with some buffalo right off the Confederation Trail.

Trailside Buffalo

Trailside Buffalo

Smelling victory just 15 little kilometres ahead, we have cool temperatures and level terrain.  Weary, but not wasted, we have visions of the Willow Green Farm B and B dancing in our heads.

The straight arrow Confederation Trail

The straight arrow Confederation Trail

Again the wind has been our friend.  As we approach Summerside, route two is to our left and the increased number of houses tells us we are close.  But Hannah knows something I don’t know.  We stop for a picture at kilometre 100 and I don’t have a clue.

100 kilometres down, 173 to go

100 kilometres down, 173 to go

Unbeknownst to me, Hannah is again struggling as she pedals.  If you know her, you know she is almost always cheery and upbeat; she marshals on when hurdles appear.  As we approach town, she says “Don’t look now.”  She hasn’t complained at all for the last three hours since Ellerslie, but for the last ten kilometers, Hannah has been riding with a mushy rear tire, feeling every bump.  Again the patched tire has not held up.

Disbelieving , we stop within the Summerside city limits for pictures and stare down at another flat tire.

Triumphantly in Summerside, PEI

Triumphantly in Summerside, PEI

Since Ellerslie, she biked 38 kilometres over more than two and half hours on a tire ever so slowly deflating, that is now as flat as a soufflé after the kitchen door slams.  Even so, we know we are quite fortunate, for we are only a half mile from our B and B.  We could crawl if we had to.  And we would have!

Still we are thankful for Don giving us to the idea to go to Dennis Motors and Andrew for patching the tire to get us to Summerside 39 kilometres away.  Throughout the day we’ve had blue skies and temperatures in the upper 50s.  No rain, no energy sapping summer humidity.  We are going to make it!

Tomorrow when it opens, we’ll go to the Summerside Bike Shop to buy a new tire and an extra replacement tube.   I pump up Hannah’s back tire again and we ride the last few kilometres to the Willow Green Farm B and B, spent and ready to kick back.

First night's B and B

First night’s B and B

After parking our bikes, unhooking our panniers, we knock on the B and B front door. Met by our innkeeper Laura, we learn that the room she had told us was to be ours has been taken  by a woman who is renting it for a week (the same room we were in last year when we hatched this Confederation Trail ride adventure).

She then adds with a smile, I’ve upgraded you to a suite with a king size bed and a hot tub!

We'd reserved the first room on the left.

We’d reserved the first room on the left.

With seventy miles in the books, we take long showers and relax triumphantly into the cushy chairs at Willow Green Farm.

1 Hannah at WGF

Upgraded bed at Wilow Green Farm B and B

Upgraded bed at Wilow Green Farm B and B

We toast our good fortune and the good people that have come our way.  We had left Tignish at 815A and now are settled in at Willow Green Farm at 625P.  Life is good.

Then a soak.

1 H in WGF hot tub

We learn that Summerside Bike Works is less than a half a mile away.  We’ll breakfast early at 7A and be at SBW when the shop opens at 8A.  We have 70 miles down, and tomorrow’s 60 to Mount Stewart, PEI will seem like a breeze, …

…that’s right, a west to east tailwind breeze.

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