Hiking, Link Ups, Trying New Things, Vancouver Island

#SundayStills: Parallel Landscapes

This past January 5, I began walking the 299.4 km Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Ironically, I didn’t give this challenge much thought before starting. I just kind of jumped right in. (I know, who is this and what have I done with Donna-the-planner?!)

Below are a few postcards that I somehow managed to send along the way.

Race Number & Postcards Courtesy of The Conqueror.

Sample landscape scenes looked like this:

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: (1) Baddeck (2) Pleasant Bay (3) Highland Brook (4) Cape Breton Highlands National Park (All: Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia).
Image Credits: Google Maps

At least that’s what they looked like on my Samsung phone. Since I never boarded a plane, or a ferry, or left Vancouver Island to take part in this challenge, my actual surrounding landscapes looked more like this:

Top Left to Bottom Right: (1) Long Beach, Tofino (2) Tofino Marina (3) Parksville Boardwalk (4) 100 Stairs at Doyle St., Parksville (5) Craig Bay, Parksville (All: Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

As both sets of landscapes have their own unique beauty, either way this adventure was a win-win.

I have now completed the 299.4 km in 27 days (31 separate hikes). Being a long-time fan of gold stars (insert me blushing here), I definitely walked further each day due to the encouragement of this challenge. I had hoped to complete 10 km per day. Being swept up by the novelty of this virtual walk, I managed to obtain an 11 km daily average for four weeks (just a tad over 9.5 km per hike).

Would I participate in a similar virtual activity again? Absolutely! Having the flexibility to walk wherever, whenever and at whatever pace works best are big draws. At the same time, this virtual venture inspires and motivates. You can constantly view where you are on the trail and chat with other participants along the way. In addition, many of these projects support a particular charity. For this virtual walk, the Conqueror team arranged for a tree to be planted for every 20% of my completed goal.

You can continually view your progress as you go.
The Conqueror Challenge was also great at getting me outdoors despite the (frequently) wet Vancouver Island winter weather. (Note to Richard, a dog would have been even better!)
A medal is mailed to each successful partipant (at no extra cost).

Is it time to switch up your landscape? If so, you can check out some virtual walking challenges here. It may help give you that extra nudge on days when you have otherwise lost your motivation. It certainly did that for me!
Insider’s Tip: Having a walking buddy who has also signed up for a similar activity is a definite bonus.
The Conqueror – Various prices, my total cost was $29.95 USD.
Camino for Good – $60 USD flat rate, $12 USD monthly or by donation. A portion of all funds raised are used to support hostels along the Camino Trail.
Myles Free app, but many fewer bells and whistles.

For all of my friends currently hiking with the Conqueror (or for those of you who would simply like more detail), here are the final screenshots for my walk completion.

Like virtual travel? Why not check out these ‘Sunday Stills Landscape‘ posts?
Women Living Well Over 50
Deb’s World
Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

#SundayStills
#YourFavoriteLandscape
Feature Photo Credit: Cabot Trail

98 thoughts on “#SundayStills: Parallel Landscapes”

  1. The virtual Cabot Trail looks like a lot of fun, Donna. I see what you mean by “Cheers.” You have walked in many beautiful areas IRL (in real life) on the Island. Like you say “win-win.” Perfect description “inspires and motivates.” Cute photo of you walking through Rain or Snow. I am at 20% for the Iceland route and already planning a future walk. Somewhat addictive. Thank you for sharing your fun experience and your beautiful photos!xx

    Like

    1. Hi, Erica – I didn’t realize that you were a night-owl. I always assumed you were an early-morning person. To be honest, I’m not sure what I meant by ‘Cheers” or where I wrote it. But it is definitely a word that I rely upon. Congratulations on completing 20% of your Iceland Trek. That is a VERY long route. I love how you have continuously explored your exact Iceland locations…and, at times, purposely deviated from the virtual trail. If I were to do another Conqueror Challenge, I would definitely follow your example in this regard.
      I look forward to hearing more about your Challenge experience as you go along.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are right, Donna, I am usually a morning person. Last night I had some stomach issues and sleep issues so I caught up on my computer. Re: cheers – I think it was how the salutations vary on the postcards. I take a picture of my screen view every day. And, sometimes I will go off the beaten track a bit, since scenery varies. I am surprised how motivating it is. And, of course the accountability. Your post is great! Congratulations! I look forward to hearing/reading about more of your adventures.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, Erica – I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t feeling well. I hope that you have been feeling better today.
        Now I get the “Cheers comment! My first two Conqueror post cards ended with “See Ya”. I mentioned on one of our Zoom chats that I would never, ever write that. I also may have written this in a comment somewhere The next thing I knew…all of my virtual postcards, even the first two, suddenly ended with “Cheers”. Very strange!

        Like

    1. Hi, Darlene – Walking is my meditation. Yesterday I only clocked 2.5 km on my pedometer. My body and mind felt sluggish all day. Walking also makes me feel like I am travelling, even when I am only a couple km from my home. 😀

      Like

  2. Well done on completing your challenge Donna – and for changing things up a bit to keep life interesting. Love your medals and all the pics that those of you who are virtually hiking share with us on occasion. I’m not sure whether I like your real landscape or your virtual one better – at leas the virtual one comes without rain!

    Like

    1. Hi, Leanne – That’s a good question about which overall landscape is preferable. I agree that both are stunning. Being a true blue island girl, I love our local views (and have already thought that the Conqueror Challenge should add a Vancouver Island series!) 😀 You also raise interesting questions about the two sets of weather. I believe that they are quite similar. Our 7-day local forecast has a high of 8C, a low of 1C and 4/7 days that call for at least some rain. This week’s Cabot Trail weather is forecasted as a high of 10C, a low of 1C with 5/7 days of rain or snow. Currently, it is 6C and cloudy outside my window. On the Cabot Trail, it is currently 0C (but stated to feel like -5C). Come to think of it, local is feeling pretty good right now! 😀

      Like

    1. Hi, Jill – Thank you for including the link to the Paddington photos. I was pretty excited this week. I was finally able to find (and purchase) a rain hat (very similar to Paddington’s) that perfectly matches my raincoat (both are made by the same company — Helly Hansen). I dislike using an umbrella and the hood on my raincoat blocks my side vision. For me, the hat is perfect…even though Richard now claims that he will walk on the other side of the street! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently learned about these virtual walks. I am fascinated but not sure that they’d get me out the door. I’m not much of a joiner, but maybe I’m misunderstanding what you do: you do these on your own time by wandering around your own paths in your neighborhood, then looking online to see what you’d have seen if you were actually walking on the challenge’s path? That’s the deal? In any case, your photos are lovely and your daily mileage is impressive.

    Like

    1. Hi, Ally – You have the basic concept correct, with some variations. There are now numerous virtual walk programs out there, and they all vary slightly. On the Conqueror Challenge, you can currently sign up for 10 different virtual hikes, ranging from 21 Miles (The English Channel) to 2,280 Miles (Route 66). You can enter this challenge solo, with a partner or as a team. You can choose to interact with others virtually along the way, or not at all. You choose the challenge with the distance that you want to achieve, and you set the number of days that you would like to complete this in. The app links seamlessly with many other fitness trackers (like Strava or Fitbit). What I liked most, is that the app allows you to see the actual virtual street view of where you are on the path…and you can ever veer off the path to explore a bit off-trail if you like. Erica (Behind the Scenery) is currently hiking the 828 Mile Iceland Route. She is a master of exploring the local Iceland Scenery. She has written about the start of her adventure here: https://behindthesceneryphoto.com/2021/01/14/the-honeymoon-period/. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can help answer any further questions.

      Like

      1. Donna, I read what Erica wrote a few weeks ago, but didn’t quite understand it then. I’m a slow learner, especially when it comes to doing things online.

        I don’t use a fitness tracker or take my cell phone with me when I go for a walk, so I’m thinking this might be too advanced for a sloth like me. Still, it is fascinating. Thanks again for explaining.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Donna,
    You go girl! One of the reasons I love your blog is that you are so creative and find new ways to keep us “silver foxes” from getting bored. I love this idea and will incorporate it into my walks when we return home. Enjoy! Joe. P.S. Let Richard know that Joe said Golden Retrievers make great walking buddies 😜…

    Like

  5. Thanks to you and Erica for introducing me to this challenge. This is a great challenge and definitely a motivator to keep moving.

    I have long wanted to return to the Cabot Trail (experienced it as a 17-year-old on a school trip), and at last calculation I was at the 37% mark and ahead of schedule (I’m still in the mode of under-promise and over-deliver 😉)
    My goal of 25 km a week pales in comparison to yours, but what a great way to deal with both winter and Covid-lockdown at the same time!!

    I am curious about the 2 medals though. I recognize the one of the right for the challenge, but what is the Stay Wild medal?

    Looking forward to your next adventure!

    Like

  6. Hi, Joanne – I am so pleased that you are doing this trail and enjoying it. I could never find you on the map (even when I searched for BS). I definitely need to up the strength of my reading glasses! The pics that I showed are the front and back of the medal (so actually just one medal). This challenge has greatly increased my desire to hike The Cabot Trail in real life. Until our ever-increasing travel restrictions lift (insert large groan here), I will definitely take on another hiking challenge that I can do locally. See you Friday!

    Like

  7. Donna, you are inspiration in a rain coat. I’m so impressed with the miles that you and others put on in a day/month. Another blog mentions the 1000 mi/mo challenge. I’m currently aiming for 50 mi/mo but so far haven’t exceeded 40. I find my resolve weakens at the -20C mark.

    Like

    1. Hi, Mona – At -20C you are completely forgiven for staying indoors (I would too). Fortunately, this pat of VI seldom dips below 0C so outdoors I go (despite the rain). Thank you for your kind words and your cool info I am now off to check out 1000 mi/mo info!

      Like

  8. Gorgeous landscapes virtually and IRL, Donna. I’m not surprised, knowing you, that you keep active with your walks. But I have to ask a dumb question…on the virtual walks, do you walk in place while viewing or walk on a treadmill? Or is it pure armchair viewing? I just joined a gym and it would be fun to walk on the treadmill while viewing a walk. Thanks for sharing your landscapes and inspiring me today. Every time I see your Tofino images (and some from another blogger), this area is certainly high on my list to visit when travel restrictions are lifted!

    Like

    1. Hi, Terri – That’s a great question. The Conqueror Challenge is meant to help people increase their activity level. There is much flexibility built-in for achieving this any way that you like. All my miles/kilometres were gained from outdoor walking. But you could run, bike or use a treadmill. Thc Conqueror also provides participants with a conversion chart so that if walking is not your thing, you could play tennis, paddle, even houseclean (groan here) and convert that into steps. I think the only thing that wouldn’t work would be armchair viewing. In that way, you would not rack up steps and thus not make progress on the trail…unless you were very, very creative! Feel free to ask me any other questions if you are interested in exploring this further.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Terri – I’m so glad that helped. I kinda just jumped into the challenge with very little info upfront. Although it turned out well, my recommendation would be for others to read all the info first and ask good questions! 😀

        Like

  9. Congratulations, Donna! And thanks again to you and Erica for inspiring me to take on my own Conqueror challenges. I’m currently doing the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, then I’m off to Australia, and I’ll end up back home on the Cabot Trail. Are you going to sign up for any other Conqueror challenges?

    Deb

    Like

    1. Hi, Deb – I am definitely in need of a new challenge of some sort but haven’t yet decided what I’ll take on next. Today, I did an 11-km hike in QB — just out of habit! I look forward to hiking together again soon! I also look forward to hearing more about how you are enjoying the Ireland Challenge!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. One of the reasons I like to blog is to find out about things like these. I have friends who use Fitbit or some other tracking device, but I didn’t even know about this concept of virtual walks. When it comes to technology, I’m that guy hanging onto the caboose yelling, “Don’t leave me behind!” I’m going to look into this more, as walking has been my mental health savior during the pandemic. I’d estimate I walk 3-4 miles (no step counter) about six days per week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Peter – That’s what I love most about blogging as well. You meet incredible people who share, connect, inspire and challenge. The amount of cool things that I have learned in this corner of the blogosphere has been truly endless! Good luck with your walking. It sounds like you have a great routine going there.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What great adventures Donna. Well done for completion of your Cape Breton hike and a medal! Your photos are so lovely, for me they’re like a virtual walk anyway.
    Have a great week and I look forward to your next adventure.

    Like

    1. Hi, Ann – Thanks for stopping by. I was delighted that the #SundayStills theme for this week worked fairly well for me to write about the Conqueror Challenge. Actually, I walked a bit further each day this week so that I could be finished the Challenge in time to finalize and share this post today. That was double motivation! 😀

      Like

  12. Donna, congrats on finishing the Cabot Trail. Once real-world travel as opposed to virtual travel is possible again, it would be cool to fly to the east coast and actually walk the trail. You would see strangely familiar sights and I’d bet that it would enhance the walking experience (much as visiting Peggy’s Cove a few years ago seemed really special to me after having seen so many photos of it).

    Jude

    Like

    1. Hi, Jude – Absolutely!!! Richard and I were both previously interested in walking the Cabot Trail IRL. Now that potential trip has moved up even higher on our “To Travel” list! I have been to Peggy’s Cove previously and agree that it is stunning!

      Like

    1. Hi, Kate – We are fortunate that Vancouver Island winters are relatively mild. Rainy…but seldom too cold. Today was bright and sunny so I easily snuck in an 11-km walk before I even realized how far that I had gone. I am totally with you though — bring on Spring!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love this idea of virtual (and simultaneously real) walking, which I first learned about on Erica’s blog a few weeks ago. And, well done, Donna! You are an over-achiever. Ha. That sounds familiar. 🙂

    What’s also familiar is the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Mark and I spent a few weeks in that area in Zesty two summers ago. But, i have to admit: your scenery on Vancouver Island, meaning the photos you took vs. the virtual ones, are more interesting and beautiful to me. I think Cape Breton is overrated. Sorry.

    Did Richard join you? A dog certainly is a good excuse to get out and about, but, drying him/her off and dealing with muddy paws during your rainy winter weather is something to consider. 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi, Liesbet – Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree that Vancouver Islanders are incredibly spoiled with stunning natural scenes all around us. Richard joined me on many of the walks for this challenge, but not all. When he did not walk with me, he still got equal km in — so he is definitely taking credit for completing this challenge as well. Please pass on my love to Mark and Maya!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What a great way to answer Terri’s photo challenge this week! The pictures from the Cabot Trail are lovely, but your own pictures from your beautiful island are gorgeous! I haven’t yet joined up on one of these virtual hikes yet, but I am getting so tempted, especially after reading about your journey and Erica’s too. I’m curious to discover what trails they have available.

    Like

    1. Hi, Janis – I’m glad that you are interested in the virtual walks. I greatly enjoyed mine. Several companies offer these walks, so its good to look around and see what would be the best fit for you The trails currently available with The Conqueror (from shortest to longest are): English Channel (21mi), Inca Trail (26mi), Mount Everest (40mi), Mount Fuji, (46mi), Giza Pyramids (46mi), Hadrian’s Wall (90mi), Ring of Kerry (124mi — Det @WidowBadass is currently hiking this one), Great Ocean Road (149mi), Alps to Ocean (180mi), Cabot Trail (185mi – Joanne @Mylifelivedfull is currently walking this one), Grand Canyon (280mi), St. Francis Way (312mi), Camino Santiago (480mi), Ring Road (828mi – Erica @BehindtheScenery is currently hiking this one), Length of the UK (1,083mi) Appalachian Trail ((1968mi), Route 66 (2,280mi), and Conqueror 2021 (set your own distance, do it from anywhere). You can read more here: https://www.theconqueror.events/all-challenges/. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Jennifer – Thank you so much for stopping by. I am so glad to hear that you did the Camino Challenge. How did you like it — especially since I know that you have already walked the Camino Frances IRL? Erica (Behind the Scenery) is currently walking the Icelandic Challenge and loving it.
      I hope that your arm mends fully soon!

      Like

  15. You are such an inspiration Donna, hiking and recommending new landscapes and photography! I would love to have half your energy! Thanks for the mention I really appreciate your link. These challenges have become a great way for many of us to mix up our walking/cycling/exercise and I’m so glad I heard about them from good friends like you and Erica. Keep up the good work and I’ll enjoy following along. x

    Like

    1. Hi, Debbie – I greatly appreciate your encouragement and your kind words. You are right about these virtual challenges motivating us for further exercise. Although my challenge is now completed, I find that I have continued to walk the same (long) distances each day out of force of habit. Win-win!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Congratulations, Donna! What a fun way to keep walking/ hiking. Both landscapes are stunning. I had the privilege to visit most of sights in your two sets of photo gallery, except the 100 stairs and Craig Bay (next time?). I have fond memories of both Cape Breton and Vancouver Island. If you ever go to Pleasant Bay, the whale watching/ puffin/ seal tour is incredible. I saw a bobcat on the Cabot Trail, thankfully at a safe distance.

    Like

    1. Hi, Natalie – I’m delighted to hear that you potentially see another Vancouver Island trip in your future (yay)! I heard about the whale/puffin/seal tours at Pleasant Bay and would love to see them. I’d also be happy to see a bobcat…at a very safe distance! Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Like

  17. Of course, you exceeded your goal Donna! I’m not surprised. You are amazing. I’ve read of several people doing this conqueror challenge. It’s been fun hearing where they chose for their virtual walks.

    Like

  18. Hi Donna! I am incredibly “late” popping in here to read it but LOVE how you combined your Sunday Stills with your challenges. And thank you for explaining it so very well. I know if I ever decide to do one I will refer to this post. As a seriously addicted walker I can see how having this would help to increase every walks enjoyment level and as always, I love seeing photos of you out and about. Keep walking! ~Kathy

    Like

    1. Hi, Kathy – The theme for Sunday Stills this week was a happy coincidence. It is also responsible for encouraging me to finish the trail a bit earlier. I definitely walked a bit more each day due to this challenge, and I learned cool new things along the way. Win-win. Sending warm hugs to you and Thom.

      Like

    1. Hi, Suzanne – Thank you for dropping by. I adore our Vancouver Island landscapes (at least most of them). But it was fun being able to see actual images of where I was along the Cabot Trail. Nothing like the power of novelty (and a gold star) to motivate! 😀

      Like

  19. hi you really highlighted how we sometimes need that reinforcement to help reach a goal or just increase engagement
    and cheers to your walking goals and that image you made with you in your yellow jacket and fun boots / ready to endure the elements said so much !

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for this kind comment. If I don’t walk in the winter rain, I don’t get much walking down. 😀 Warm, dry and fun raingear helps motivate me to get outdoors when the weather chooses to dare me! I hope that all is going well for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Who is this non-planner? I so identified with that and smile…along with the need for gold stars!
    Until I started reading more blogs from Northern Hemisphere. I had no idea of virtual challenges and I say ‘good on you’ do what makes you happy and well…

    Denyse #sundaystills

    Like

    1. Hi, Denyse – Thanks so much for stopping by. I love how this little corner of the blogosphere allows us to connect with people on the other side of the world. Our COVID situation here is not great. We have been in various forms of lockdown during this past year. Since the end of November, we have not been allowed to enter any public building, store or shop without a mask (now double-masking is recommended). Since that same time frame, we have been restricted to only socializing with members of our households and cannot visit friends or family inside our homes, or even in our yards. Sometimes it really is easier just to bury my head in a book, or go for a very long walk. I’ve been relying on both strategies a great deal lately. I am off to visit your site now.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Barb – the rainhat is a relatively new purchase. It took me a long while to find the one that I was looking for — and that fit as well! Richard swears he will walk on the other side of the street when I have it on. But, I wear it proudly! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Yes definitely in awe of you both walking such a long distance and having the motivation to do so. It is on the bucket list for that moment when I need to do it. It is nearly Spring and hopefully less of the rain, snow and more sunshine for your walks.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Suzanne – Walking has become such routine for me that I swear my body routinely heads out the door before my mind realizes what is happening (or is that vice versa)? 😀 Our winter weather has been relatively mild. Its variety has allowed me to wear the different winter and spring gear that I have collected along the way. Thankfully, most of it is waterproof!

      Like

  22. Hi Donna – what a great way to get past the dreary VI winter … actually you seem to have had little or no snow (yet) … but a fun way to see another part of the world – particularly the east coast – I’d love to visit sometime. Wonderful post – thank you … Hilary

    Like

    1. Hi, Hilary – Thank you for your kind words. So far, we have had only one snowfall on this part of the island. It has been looking like Spring out there recently, so I would be delighted with no additional days of snow for us. Fingers crossed! 😀

      Like

  23. Donna, both your virtual walk and real landscapes are stunning! 😀 I’m half way through my first Conqueror challenge and thoroughly enjoying it (actually posting about this tomorrow). It is a great form of motivation. The medals look terrific – congratulations!! 😃

    Like

      1. Yikes! Questions?! I’ll try to answer them but Erica is the real expert! I’ve seen so many mentioning the challenge and it is wonderful how it has inspired us all! Look forward to seeing your thoughts tomorrow! xx

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and congratulations on your accomplishments. Your photos are beautiful. I’m a lighthouse nut so the capture of Baddeck Lighthouse put a smile on my face. I’d love to visit that area some day. 🙂

    Like

      1. My bucket list consists of seeing all US lighthouses that are available for humans to reach. So many are not accessible by the general public. I don’t know if I will ever check that one off, but it is good to have. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s