Here is a roundup of news from the North American Chapters of the IAT/SIA.
Beginning in the north, René Kristensen, IAT contact for northwest Greenland, reports activity on the section of the IAT across Nuussuaq has, unsurprisingly, been slow the last couple of years. Nevertheless, René has led groups from the Uummannaq Children’s Home on hikes in other locations.
Last summer René led a hike from the bottom of the Uummannaq Fjord to the foot of the Greenland icecap, climbing a couple of mountains in the process. In September, Rene and his troop hiked a stretch of the north side of the Nuussuaq Peninsula from the settlement of Niaqornat to Qaarsut, a distance of almost 50 km which took 3 days. This coastal route is part of the IAT on Nuussuaq and was last hiked in 2008.
Travel to Greenland is under tight restriction at the moment with all flights between Denmark and Greenland suspended until at least March and probably longer. However, René hopes that things return to normal by the end of this summer and that there is a chance of an IAT hike in the summer of 2022.
IATNL Director Paul Wylezol reports his crew was busy in 2020 identifying new routes and developing two new trails: one to the top of the Elephant on the south side of Gros Morne National Park, and a new route to Arne’s Lookout on the Humber Valley Trail. These trails are all within the boundary of Cabox Aspiring Geopark, of which we are the primary proponent.
IATNL also received government funding to expand their virtual reality program, develop an Appalachian-Caledonian GIS Database Website, and identify geo-sites within the Geopark, many of which will be along the IAT.
Finally, IATNL has entered into a collaborative partnership with the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Grenfell Campus, College of the North Atlantic’s Corner Brook Campus and the Canadian Forest Service to work on projects of mutual interest, including the Appalachian-Caledonian website and a new Art & Adventure Festival similar to the one they established in 2012-13 with Gros Morne National Park.
In Nova Scotia, the IAT is comprised of several trails that are maintained by local trail groups and volunteers. Hike Nova Scotia, a member-supported, not-for-profit organization, helps coordinate these local groups and advocates for hiker-friendly policies in the province. Hike NS board member, Claire MacNeil is the IAT contact in the province.
Claire reports that interest in the Nova Scotia section of the IAT continued to increase in 2020, despite, or perhaps because of, Covid-19 and the desire to get out into open spaces. In the 2021, trail upgrades are planned for the Amherst/Pictou area as well in the Cape Breton Highlands.
Hike NS is also working with local Adventure Hiker and photographer Vince Forrestall to capture high-quality photos of many local trails.
Prince Edward Island
On PEI, Island Trails, a member-supported volunteer-based not-for-profit corporation, manages the IAT, plus eight other trails. Bryson Guptill, an Island Trails member and contact for the IAT section, reports that the focus for this past year has been on the 700-km Island Walk. The Island Walk takes you around the circumference of PEI and includes several stretches of the IAT. With the help of the PEI government, Island Walks developed a new logo and the Island Walk website.
In 2021, Island Walks plans to pitch the idea of highlighting the IAT section as a shorter, 150 km walk (or bike ride) for people who don’t want to tackle the entire 700km.
Directeur Alexis Turcotte-Noël reports that SIAQC will launch an effort to “democratize” long distance hiking on the Quebec section of the SIA this year by offering new services that will help adventurers with less experience get out and enjoy the trail. These efforts include creating food boxes (including local food) for refueling and a cheaper transport system for shuttling between trailheads.
SIAQC is also working hard to increase their lodging capacity and the comfort on many sites while maintaining the rustic side of the experience. Finally, SIAQC will have an electric hiking-wheelchair available to help individuals with reduced mobility get out experience the beauty of the SIA
To keep up with the latest news be sure to follow SIAQC on Instagram @siaiatqc.
Maine IAT president, Don Hudson is really looking forward to getting back out on the trail to catch up on trail maintenance. The Maine IAT attracted a lot of attention with last year’s Virtual Hike and is hoping to meet some of these virtual hikers in real life at our annual meeting or as part of our trail crews this summer. The Maine IAT is also resuming plans to lead several guided hikes on the IAT and to explore a couple of potential routes over Sugarloaf Mountain and Mount Chase near Shin Pond.
This winter and spring Maine IAT Coordinator, Bill Duffy, will be working with the Prince Edward Island, Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland chapters to develop digital Guthook Guides for these sections of the IAT. Stay tuned for details!