IAT North America Chapters Meet in Moncton

On April 24 & 25, IAT chapters from Maine to Newfoundland gathered in Moncton, New Brunswick for the annual IAT North America Council Meeting.  The two-day event included presentations on chapter progress, updates on IAT news, discussion of joint projects, and participation in the July, 2015 ATC Biennial in Winchester, Virginia.

IAT Maine President Don Hudson giving an update

IAT Maine President Don Hudson led off the chapter presentations with an update on progress in Maine, including plans for a side trail to Shin Pond Sugarloaf, which contains a large brachiopod fossil deposit.  He was followed by New Brunswick’s Poul Jorgensen who gave a presentation on his chapter’s new southern route that will traverse Stonehammer Geopark before following the coastline of the Bay of Fundy and connecting to both the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island and the border with Nova Scotia.

Poul Jorgensen (third from left) giving a presentation on the southern New Brunswick route

After Prince Edward Island’s Leo Gill gave an update on PEI – including new trail maps and brochures – and Eric Chouinard discussed weather related issues and GR progress in Quebec, IAT Nova Scotia’s Claire MacNeil reported renewed enthusiasm and interest in her province.  After the meeting on Saturday morning, she and IAT Chair Paul Wylezol raced off to Scotsburn, NS to attend the Nova Scotia Hiking Summit, where Paul gave a presentation on the mission and progress of the IAT.

Claire MacNeil gives an update on IAT Nova Scotia, while New Brunswick Tourism Rep Carl Lavigne looks on

During the council meeting, Paul reviewed plans for Cabox Geopark in Western Newfoundland, spanning the Bay of Islands Ophiolites from Lewis Hills to Tablelands.  It will include the 6-9 day IAT UltramaTrex across the rust-colored ultramafic mantle.  Will Richard then gave a presentation on IAT Greenland, from the southern sub-chapter of Erik the Red Land to the northern sub-chapter on the Nuussuaq Peninsula.

Will Richard giving a presentation on IAT Greenland

The first day of meetings ended with IAT Geologist Walter Anderson giving a presentation and leading a discussion on the upcoming Pioneers of Appalachian Caledonian Geology website series.

The series will pay tribute to geologists and scientists who made contributions to the understanding of the Appalachian and Caledonian Mountains, formed by tectonic collisions that created the super-continent Pangea during the closing of the Iapetus Ocean.

IAT Geologist Walter Anderson discussing the Pioneers website series

In addition to laying the trail’s foundation, geology is becoming more important to the IAT, as geoheritage, geoparks and geotourism grow in popularity.

(Left to right) Eric Chouinard, Don Hudson, Dick Anderson and Sheila Walters

The first day of meetings ended with the customary refreshments and discussion at IAT Founder Richard “Dick” Anderson’s room, followed by dinner – and more refreshments – at Maverick’s Steakhouse & Grill. The second day of meetings focused on websites and social media, before closing with a discussion on IAT participation in the July 2015 ATC Biennial in Winchester, Virginia.

Paul and Claire then left for Scotsburn, NS to attend the Nova Scotia Hiking Summit. The Hike Nova Scotia sponsored event was a celebration of hiking culture and best practices, and provided networking opportunities for the approximately 100 participants.  IAT Nova Scotia had a booth set up where they promoted the International Appalachian Trail and sold tickets on a 50-50 fundraiser draw, later selected by Hike Nova Scotia President Garnet McLaughlin. Paul gave a slideshow presentation on the IAT (prepared by Maine’s Don Hudson) and later spoke with Tourism and Hike Nova Scotia officials.

(Left to right) Paul Wylezol, Chairperson IAT, Heather Yule, Nova Scotia Tourism Agency Representative, Claire MacNeil, Director IAT Nova Scotia, and Garnet McLaughlin, President of Hike Nova Scotia

A special thanks goes out to Poul Jorgensen and his IAT NB Trails squad for hosting the North America Council Meeting in Moncton, and to Hike Nova Scotia for opening the door to the IAT in Scotsburn!  May the hiking gods shine on you in 2015!