Ulster Ireland Hosts IAT Annual Meeting

On September 19 to 25, IAT Ulster Ireland hosted the International Appalachian Trail Annual General Meeting, from Slieve League in County Donegal to Ballycastle, County Antrim. The week-long event included scenic hikes, historic tours, fine dining and tasty beers, all with the great hospitality this beautiful emerald island is renowned for.

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IAT Attends 2017 ATC Bienniel

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy held the workshop and business component of its 2017 Biennial Conference at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, between Friday, August 4th and Sunday, August 5th. The International Appalachian Trail was well-represented by a North American contingent, including Maine Chapter Board Members Dick Anderson, Don Hudson, Earl Raymond, and Herb Hartman, as well as Poul Jorgensen from New Brunswick and Paul Wylezol from Newfoundland.

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IAT Attends ALDHA’s 35th Annual Gathering

Highlighted by a blaze of fall colors, Board Members of the Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail (MaineIAT) traveled along the Mohawk Trail (Rt.2) to Williams College, Williamstown, Mass. to attend the 3-day 35th Annual Gathering of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA).

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IAT Ulster-Ireland to Host Annual Meeting

From September 19 to 25, IAT Ulster-Ireland will host the 2016 IAT Annual General Meeting in Strabane, Northern Ireland.  The weeklong event begins at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, where the IAT chapter was officially launched in August 2013.

Official IAT Ulster-Ireland Launch, August 31, 2013

It then moves west to Slieve League and the county of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, where American Appalachian hiker Cotton Joe Norman began the first IAT Ulster-Ireland thru-hike in September 2013.

Cotton Joe on the trail at Slieve League

The trail starts at the 601 meter (1972 ft) Slieve League on the Atlantic coast then crosses the Blue Stack Mountains before entering Northern Ireland.   It then picks up the Ulster Way and passes the Giant’s Causeway on the stunning northern coastline, before traversing the Glens of Antrim.

The IAT in Ulster~Ireland

After Donegal, the AGM schedule moves to Derry/Londonderry for a pre-AGM tour, followed by the Annual General Meeting in Strabane.  The tentative schedule of weeklong activities is:

A list of accommodation is being prepared, and it is hoped that delegates will stay in Castlederg / Derg Valley area of County Tyrone, close to the trail and border with County Donegal.  Transport will be provided every day from and to Castlederg, including all trips up to and including the AGM in Strabane.  On Friday morning, delegates will be transported to the North East Coast for the weekend’s itinerary.

For more complete visitor information, including transportation links and accommodations list, download the Delegate Information Guide,  then go to the IAT Ulster-Ireland website and start planning your visit! 

IAT North America Meeting held at Mabou, NS

On April 8 & 9, IAT North America held its Annual Spring Council Meeting in Mabou, Nova Scotia, a Gaelic speaking region of Cape Breton.

Duncreigan Inn, Mabou on the IAT Nova Scotia trail route

The two-day event held at Duncreigan Inn was an opportunity for the U.S. and Canadian chapters to gather to discuss common issues and joint initiatives, as well as provide updates on regional and international progress.

Don Hudson discussing IAT Maine

Day One began with a welcome from IAT Nova Scotia hosts Claire MacNeil and John Calder followed by chapter updates, beginning with Maine.  Don Hudson discussed a new IAT route through a proposed national forest reserve, the Pioneers of Appalachian/Caledonian Geology website series, as well as opportunities surrounding next year’s ATC Biennial in Maine.

IAT New Brunswick’s Poul Jorgensen discussed his chapter’s new southern route that will connect with IAT Nova Scotia.  The route includes sections of the Trans Canada Trail and crosses Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark.

Leo Gill of IAT Prince Edward Island discussed the success his chapter has had developing trails across the island, connecting to IAT New Brunswick across the Confederation Bridge in the north and IAT Nova Scotia via the Woods Island ferry in the south. 

Claire MacNeil and John Calder described potential IAT routes in Nova Scotia, from the Cape to Cape and Trans Canada Trails linking to New Brunswick and the proposed Sea Wall Trail at the northeastern end of Cape Breton Island.

Paul Wylezol giving an update on the Drifting Apart project

Paul Wylezol of IAT Newfoundland & Labrador completed the chapter updates with a presentation on the IATNL’s plan to develop a UNESCO Global Geopark across the Bay of Islands Ophiolite Complex and commemorate (in 2017) the 250th Anniversary of James Cook’s survey and map of Western Newfoundland, spanning the entire route of the IAT from Port aux Basques in the south to Cape Raven (near the Norse UNESCO World Heritage Site at L’Anse aux Meadows) in the north.  He also gave an update on the EU funded Drifting Apart project.

After the chapter updates, representatives posed for the traditional group mugshot before heading to the Mull Cafe and Deli for a well-earned meal and refreshments.

(L-R) Front row: Eric Chouinard, Bill Duffy, Don Hudson, Michael Charles Haynes Back row: Claire MacNeil, Cathy Gill, Leo Gill, Richard Anderson, John Calder, David Williams, Paul Wylezol, Poul Jorgensen and Walter Anderson

The evening session began with a presentation by David Williams on the planned Seawall Trail at the northeastern end of Cape Breton Island, which may become an extension of IAT Nova Scotia. It was followed by a presentation on the Trans Canada Trail in Eastern Canada by trail guide author Michael Haynes.

The last presentation of the day was given by environmentalist Norris Whiston, who gave a presentation on the ecological environment and various plant species found along the IAT Nova Scotia trail route. 

Day Two of the meeting was a ‘Nuts and Bolts’ session reserved for common issues and projects, including website and social media, maps and guides, and sponsorship guidelines.  Nova Scotia’s John Calder (who is a committee member with the Canadian Geoparks Network) closed out the meeting with a presentation on UNESCO Global Geoparks, including the planned Fundy Rim Geopark in Nova Scotia.

(L-R) IAT Founder Richard Anderson, IAT Nova Scotia’s Claire MacNeil and IAT Quebec’s Eric Chouinard

A special thanks goes out to Claire MacNeil, John Calder and the staff at Duncreigan Inn for for a pleasant and productive IAT North America Council Meeting in Cape Breton. 

Thanks also to guest presenters David Williams, Michael Haynes and Norris Whiston for their interesting presentations.  Good luck to you all on your various projects.

3rd General Meeting of Cabox Aspiring Geopark

The 3rd general meeting of Newfoundland’s Cabox Aspiring Geopark was held Friday, March 4 at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, with approximately 40 people in attendance.  In addition to updates on the past year’s developments and a review of the upcoming application process, MUN Geologist Andy Kerr gave a special presentation entitled ‘Newfoundland, the Bay of Islands, and the Geological Revolution’.

Geologist Andy Kerr of Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Earth Sciences Department

IAT / Cabox Aspiring Geopark Chairperson Paul Wylezol outlined the GeoSite categories, beginning with five geological groupings: Ancient Continental Slope, Transported Continental Margin, Bay of Islands Ophiolite Complex, Little Port Island Arc Complex, and Carboniferous Cover Rocks of the Deer Lake Basin.

IAT Presentation at GAC Regional Meeting

Paul Wylezol, IAT Newfoundland

On February 22-23, IAT/Cabox Aspiring Geopark Chairperson Paul Wylezol attended the Geological Association of Canada Regional Technical Meeting at the Johnson Geo Centre in St. John’s, where he gave a presentation on the International Appalachian Trail, UNESCO Global Geoparks and Cabox Aspiring Geopark in Western Newfoundland.

IAT Presents at European Geopark Conference

On September 3-5, IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol attended the European Geoparks Conference in Oulu, Finland, where he gave a presentation on the International Appalachian Trail and its connection to Global Geoparks.  The IAT crosses 12 Global Geoparks and Aspiring Geoparks in Canada, Western Europe and Morocco.

The 3-day event was held at the University of Oulu and the nearby Rokua Geopark, and was attended by over 400 representatives from European, Canadian and other Global Geoparks and Aspiring Geoparks.

University of Oulu

Day One began with opening welcome by local officials – including Conference Chair Vesa Krökki – and keynote speeches by Global Geoparks President Professor Nickolas Zouros and UNESCO Representative Dr Margarete Patzak followed by a variety of themed presentations by geopark, tourism and conservation organizations.

2015 European Geoparks Conference Opening Ceremonies

Many focused on the development and maintenance of Global Geoparks while the IAT presentation – entitled International Appalachian Trail partners with European Geoparks – introduced the IAT and its potential connection between Geoparks found along the IAT route, and was given in association with Carlos Neto de Carvalho and IAT partner Naturtejo Geopark of Portugal. Day Two was reserved for field trips to Rokua Geopark or a walking tour of the city of Oulu.

Oulu City Hall

Day Three began with a keynote presentation by Dr Rauno Väisänen, Director of Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland followed by more presentations on themes such as conservation, education and communication.

Carlos Neto de Carvalho of IAT partner Naturtejo Geopark of Portugal giving a presentation on digital marketing

During coffee and lunch breaks between sessions, participants used the opportunity to view poster presentations and interact with guest presenters and geopark representatives. Day Three ended with a closing dinner at Rokua Health & Spa Hotel where Global Geoparks President Nickolas Zouros announced the results of the 2015 Geopark re-evaluations and welcomed 5 new European Geoparks, bringing the total to 69. He also repeated a Day One prediction that the Global Geoparks Network will receive full UNESCO designation (on par with World Heritage Sites) during the 38th UNESCO General Conference in November, thereby becoming UNESCO Global Geoparks.

For more on the 2015 European Geoparks Conference, go to the conference website or the European Geoparks website.

IAT Attends ATC 2015 Biennial in Virginia

On July 17-19, the IAT attended the ATC 2015 Biennial at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia where it gave 3 hours of presentations and distributed information from an extra large conference booth.

Among the 1000+ in attendance were IAT Founder Richard “Dick” Anderson (Maine), IAT Geologist Walter Anderson (Maine), IAT Maine President Don Hudson, IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol (Newfoundland), IAT Europe Vice President Hugh Barron (BGS, Scotland), UK National Trails Rep Mark Owen (England) and distinguished Appalachian geologist Jim Hibbard from North Carolina State University.

IAT Founder Richard “Dick” Anderson addresses the audience

After registration on Friday, July 17, the conference began with a series of workshop presentations on Saturday morning.  IAT Founder Richard “Dick” Anderson opened for the International Appalachian Trail with a review of the early years of the trail’s formation.

Distinguished geologist Jim Hibbard discussing the Appalachian Orogen

Dick was followed by Jim Hibbard who worked with renowned Appalachian geologist Harold “Hank” Williams on his Tectonic Lithofacies Map of the Appalachian Orogen, which he continued to update and digitize until his recent retirement.  Jim gave a presentation on Appalachian geology from Georgia to Newfoundland, where Williams created his innovative and colorful maps.

IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol describing the UN Global Geoparks program and EU Drifting Apart project

Paul then introduced the concept of Global Geoparks as it relates to the IAT and the EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme’s Drifting Apart project aimed at “unearthing and strengthening the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the fascinating and interconnected geological heritage of the Northern Periphery and Arctic region, and its many links to natural, built and cultural heritage.”  It will “support the development of new and aspiring Global Geoparks, promote innovative products and services for social and economic prosperity, and continue to build a strong network of Geoparks in the Northern Periphery and Arctic Region.”

IAT Europe Vice President Hugh Barron of the British Geological Survey – who has helped develop Geoparks in Scotland – gave a more detailed presentation on the European Geoparks program, describing criteria for inclusion and maintenance, and identifying many of the Geoparks along the IAT route in Europe.

IAT Maine President Don Hudson kicked off the second round of IAT presentations by introducing the IAT’s upcoming Pioneers of Appalachian/Caledonian Geology series. IAT Geologist Walter Anderson followed with a detailed description of the website series and the names of the 15 honourees included in the first round selection.  Stay tuned for a special feature on the Pioneers!

South West Coast Path’s Mark Owen introduces Plymouth 2020

Mark Owen of England’s South West Coast Path – hosts of the 2014 IAT AGM – gave a presentation on UK National Trails and a slideshow on his own SWCP.  He also introduced Plymouth 400, the celebration planned around the 2020 anniversary of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ voyage to the New World.

The final IAT presentation was by Hugh Barron, who gave an update on IAT Scotland, including the newly launched Firth o Clyde Rotary Trail from the Mull of Galloway in the southwest to Milngavie at the southern end of the West Highland Way near Glasgow.  He also discussed a possible new link between IAT Scotland and IAT England.

IAT presenting a copy of the Appalachian Orogen map to AT Museum President Larry Luxenberg

After the presentations, the IAT delegation presented Appalachian Trail Museum President Larry Luxenberg with a copy of the Appalachian Orogen map developed by “Hank” Williams and Jim Hibbard, before shifting to the conference exhibition hall, where the IAT booth showcased its many flags, posters and maps and distributed IAT promotional material.

On Saturday night, the group gathered at a local restaurant for the traditional IAT meal, before retiring back to the hotel for a round or two of well-deserved liquid refreshments.

On Sunday morning, Mark, Hugh and Paul hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park then visited the ATC Visitor Center in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia before joining a meeting with ATC Executive Director Ron Tipton and Director of Conservation Laura Belleville. 

Ron and Laura were presented with the second copy of the Appalachian Orogen map developed by “Hank” Williams and Jim Hibbard. IAT participation in the week-long 2015 Biennial came to an end Sunday evening, July 19, but not before two productive days of promoting the International Appalachian Trail and networking with ATC hikers and officials.

Many thanks go out to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and their members for making the IAT feel at home.  We hope to return the favour some day and look forward to participating in the ATC 2017 Biennial near the end of the AT – and beginning of the IAT – at Mount Katahdin, Maine!

IAT Maine Holds 21st Annual Meeting

The 21st annual meeting of the Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail was held between Thursday, May 14th and Saturday, May 16th at Shin Pond Village. A dozen members gathered at the Lumberman’s Museum in Patten at 3:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon for a tour of the facility with Executive Director Rhonda Brophy, before heading for refreshments and dinner at Shin Pond Village. The IAT in Nova Scotia has a new advocate in Claire MacNeil, who traveled all the way from Cape Breton to attend the annual meeting in Maine.

Group photo of the Maine IAT Chapter at Shin Pond

Julie King provided the Thursday evening program, a photographic review of “Side Trails along the IAT”, which captured the highlights of her hike on the IAT in Maine and Canada with fellow long distance hiker Ed Talone during the summer and fall of 2013. In addition to exploring trails along the east coast of New Brunswick from Campbellton to the foot of the Confederation Bridge near Sackville, Julie and Ed added the Magdalene Islands and the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton to their walk on the IAT. A ferry from PEI took them to the Magdalene Islands, where spectacular beaches and low rolling hills grace the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Back on the IAT in Nova Scotia, Julie and Ed decided to add the Cabot Trail to their hike. They met Claire near the start of the trail as they walked right by her house. It is safe to say that this chance and serendipitous encounter bodes well for the IAT in Canada. Claire has become a strong champion for the IAT within Hike Nova Scotia. Once in Newfoundland, Julie and Ed flip-flopped from Port au Basque to St. Anthony in order to walk south with the onset of fall weather. However, a few miles into their walk south, they decided to take a short ferry to the Labrador coast where they walked the Pioneer Footpath on Appalachian terrane between L’Anse au Clair and Pinware to Red Bay.

At the end of her fine presentation, Dick Anderson invited Ed to join Julie at the front of the room and presented them both with IAT Maine’s first Trailblazer Awards to commemorate their walk on the IAT in North America.

Julie King and Ed Talone are presented their awards by Dick Anderson

The crowd swelled on Saturday morning to hear a full program of presentations, including an update of activities and work in Baxter State Park by Park Naturalist Jean Hoekwater. An effort to re-route the Abol Trail from the bottom of the slide to safer ground to the west and north will require an additional trail crew, and will be funded in part through a special contribution made by a long-time friend of the park. Susan Adams of Katahdin Woods & Waters and Karin Tilberg of the Forest Society of Maine also provided updates of their work. As the impact of mill closures and declining populations is felt in the Millinocket and Greenville areas, both communities are exploring the role that the forests, rivers and trails can play in the future. In their own ways, Katahdin Woods & Waters and the Forest Society of Maine are proving to be great partners.

Baxter State Park by Park Naturalist Jean Hoekwater

For more on the story, go to the IAT Maine Chapter website.

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!