On October 2, the International Appalachian Trail Québec and France’s Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP) officially designated IAT Québec (IAT-QC) as North America’s first Grande Randonnée (“Great Hike”) – the GRA1 (America 1) – at Forillon National Park.
The international event took place at Cap Gaspé and marked the closing of the second Traversée de la Gaspésie (TDLG) on Foot (TDLG) on Foot, which ran from September 26 to October 3.
The GR designation is part of an international strategy aimed at strengthening ties between IAT Québec and the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (French Hiking Federation) and promoting hiking in Western Europe and North America.
The FFRP first traveled to Gaspésie with information on the GR program in October 2013. In 2014, IAT Québec was granted GR designation, with permission to use the famous white and red trail markers.
The October 2 Launch was preceded by an IAT/FFRP dinner and refreshments at Brise Bise pub in the town of Gaspé and a morning trek along the coast of Forillon National Park where hikers were treated to about a dozen gray seals who swam in for the celebrations!
These began with music and song along the trail and in the lighthouse shed where approximately 100 hikers gathered for the main event!
Next up was opening introductions and official statements by Parks Canada, IAT, TDLG and RRPF officials followed by the unveiling of a new GRA1 sign to more music and much applause.
The bilingual sign describes IAT Québec and the GR® designation and outlines the route on a map of the Gaspé Peninsula.
The festivities continued throughout the day, and ended at night with a satanic themed costume party in the town of Gaspé. For more information on IAT Québec and the new GRA1, go to the SIA-IAT website. If you see any devils along the route, touch a trail marker and tell 10 friends they must walk the IAT!!!