High Point in the ForestClimbers:
Ian’s brother Gordon
Climbing bear Snowball
& local guide Betty Lou.
I visited PEI every summer while growing up in Nova Scotia. Even after moving to Colorado at age 26, I still usually made it to the island almost every other year visiting relatives. An island located in the Gulf of St Lawrence north of Nova Scotia, PEI is Canada’s smallest province.
It wasn’t until recently I thought of PEI having a high point. I read: Not Won in a Day, Climbing Canada’s Highpoints by Jack Bennett, which tells of the author’s high point obsession extending to Canada after completing all 50 US highpoints.
Picturesque Prince Edward Island has rolling farm land with forested areas between the fields surrounded by sandy beaches and fishing villages. There’s no pretending the high point is a mountain. There’s not even a noticeable “summit.” One could sarcastically say it’s a broad summit! The high point is marked by a mailbox in the forest.
It took 2 attempts to find the summit of Prince Edward island! I showed up armed with a topo map and GPS with coordinates preloaded. I had read multiple descriptions and viewed pictures from various trip reports on the web along with Bennett‘s book.
We had no trouble finding Junction Road. We approached from Fredericton, which is on Route 2 between Charlottetown & Kensington. South on paved Route 264 to a 4 way intersection. Left onto dirt Junction Road. Approaching from this direction has a shorter stretch of dirt than approaching from Hartsville. We parked after seeing the field on the right (SW) side of the road gave way to forest.
My preloaded coordinates from peakbagger.com agreed with the closed 140 meter contour on the topo so I didn’t anticipate we would have any problem finding the spot. We walked along the side of a parsnip field until the GPS pointed us into the forest. Not far from the field the GPS said we were there. But no mailbox!
There was a pile of dead trees propped against another pair of trees on an apparent high point. We speculated the mailbox might have been removed and this was someone’s way of marking the spot. The GPS location was only a few meters from the peakbagger.com coordinates. On our way back to the car we found the couple benchmarks mentioned in some trip reports along with weathered “A Survey Marker is Nearby” signs.
I had a nagging feeling we hadn’t looked hard enough. I had used the peakbagger coordinates because they were in UTM and not the decimal degrees on the summitpost page. When we returned to my brother’s home I jumped online again and this time I entered the summitpost decimal degree coordinates into my GPS. I then switched my GPS back again to UTM so I could see how far apart they were. 61 meters easting & 69 meters northing. That’s enough to not see the mailbox through the woods!
One of the peakbagger trip reports gave the phone number of Charles and Betty Lou Abbott who had placed the mailbox register. I called the number and Betty Lou answered. When I told her of not finding the mailbox she offered to guide us to it the next morning.
We met Betty Lou at the intersection of Junction Road & Fredericton Station Road and then drove to the same patch of trees we investigated the day before. However this time she pointed out the overgrown old road heading SSE into the trees. We followed this overgrown road for over 300 meters keeping watch off to the right for evidence of the marker.
Then we spotted an orange cloth strip of cloth wrapped around a branch and trunk of a tree. From the direction of the overgrown road this makes a figure 8 on the tree. After spotting the orange marker it was a simple matter to walk through the forest to then see the elusive mailbox.
This mailbox was roughly half way between the overgrown road and the parsnip field we walked along yesterday. It would be possible to follow the parsnip field instead of the road but the orange marker might be harder to spot since it’s more on the road side of the tree. If you do choose to follow the parsnip field, walk most of the side of the field and look into the woods on your left. Where the field obviously starts loosing elevation be suspicious you have missed it.
There’s not a lot of variation in elevation between Junction Road and the mailbox marker. Betty Lou told of having some surveyors from the Province coming out to mark the spot. It’s worth noting the mailbox is not within the closed 140 meter contour on the topo map. Having worked in map production I can speculate several possible explanations for slop in the contours.
This is my first high point that is not a summit of at least a noticeable hill. The scavenger hunt aspect of it did add some interest.
NTS Map 011L06 North Rustico 1:50,000
If you click on the Lat / Long coordinates in the page header you’ll see a Google Map of the area with the high point labeled. Then click “Hybrid” and you’ll see an aerial photo of the area with the high point indicated in the woods relative to the parsnip field.
GPS coordinates: WGS84 UTM Zone 20 Latitude Band T
Beginning of overgrown road:
Turn right from overgrown road towards highpoint:
Highpoint mailbox with register:
Slightly higher hump next to mailbox:
From previous day:
Suspected highpoint with tree pile
Trip report with good descriptions. I would have been well served to have read this report more carefully before heading to highpoint: