Pioneers of Appalachian Geology

The Pioneers of Appalachian Geology are back! With much help from the IAT/SIA geology committee, the new and improved pioneers page now honors over 30 geologists who have made key contributions to the understanding of Appalachian/Caledonian terranes and to geologic principals in general.

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The IAT is in Guthook Guides!

, it took longer then we thought it would, but the first three sections of the IAT are now available in Guthook Guides. And by first three, we mean the original sections of the IAT: Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec.

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Spring News from the Quebec Chapter of IAT

The Sentier international des Appalaches – Québec has published its May, 2020 newsletter. In addition to COVID-19 related updates, it includes information for hikers on reservations and trail guides, and introduces Alexis Turcotte-Noël, the new director of SIA-QC.

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We’re Back!

Well, that was a bit of a span between posts. Sorry about that. The IAT/SIA has had a busy year and posting stories to the website kept falling to the bottom of the to-do list. But that should change soon! Mainly because we’re nearing the completion of an updated website design and we’re all itching to see our stories in the new and improved format.

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Coming to a smart phone near you!

Guthook Guides

For the past six months, the Maine Chapter of the IAT has been working with the developers of the premiere trail guide app, Guthook Guides, to create a digital hiker’s guide of the International Appalachian Trail in Maine and Canada.

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Film showcases journey through Katahdin Woods and Waters

On August 24th in 2016, an 87,563-acre plot of land in the heart of Maine was designated the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument by former President Barack Obama. Although met with controversy on all sides, the area had yet been explored on a large scale. In September 2017, a team of four Maine-born photographers set out on a three-part journey through Katahdin Woods and Waters to investigate.

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IAT Signatory to Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter

For its size, Scotland has world-class geodiversity–the variety of rocks, landforms, sediments, soils and the natural processes which form and alter them span a vast 3 billion-year-long geological timescale. It is internationally regarded the birthplace of modern geoscience, led by James Hutton’s great insights on deep time in the late 18th century.

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IAT Greenlanders Hikes IAT Newfoundland

From October 12 to 15, a small group of Greenland youth from the Uummannaq Peninsula and their Danish leader René Kristensen were in Western Newfoundland to hike sections of the IATNL. They were joined by French film maker Marc Buriot and arrived from St. John`s where they attended an Inuit Studies Conference and screened local Greenland films, including INUK.

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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 Presents at England’s Cook Museums

On September 16 & 17, IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol was in England visiting the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby and Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Marton.  While there he gave a presentation on the 250th Anniversary of James Cook completing his surveys in Eastern Canada, most noteably in Newfoundland.   In the coming years, James Cook 250 will a unique opportunity for the IAT and partner UK National Trails to promote their natural and cultural heritage across the North Atlantic and South Pacific. The visit began … where else? … checking into the Endeavour pub with accommodations in Whitby.

The pub is located just around the corner from the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, which is housed in the 17th century Walker House on Grape Lane. The harbourside house owned by Captain John Walker was where the young James Cook lodged as an apprentice and trained as a seaman. It has a large courtyard overlooking the harbour, where Whitby colliers were once built and set sail for trade in the North and Baltics Seas. It stands 3-stories, with the ground floor furnished according to an inventory of 1754 and the other two floors containing exhibits of Cook related maps, paintings and other artifacts.

Paul was given a tour of the museum by Sophie Forgan, Chairperson of Trustees

(L-R) Trustee Chairperson Sophie Forgan, Paul Wylezol & Chairman of Management Committee Peter Brown

before giving a presentation in the new reception area adjacent to the entrance. In addition to maps showing Cook’s survey work in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador it also included excerpts from Memorial University of Newfoundland (Grenfell Campus) History Professor Olaf Janzen’s recent paper entitled The Significance of James Cook’s Newfoundland Years.

From Whitby, Paul travelled to the nearby Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Marton. The modern museum is located in Stewart Park near the city of Middlesbrough and was built near the location of Cook’s birthplace cottage. It opened October 28, 1978 on the 250th Anniversary of the explorer’s birthday. It houses a variety of exhibits, from Cook’s childhood and formative years in England to his navy and surveying years in Eastern Canada and three voyages of discovery to the Pacific Ocean. Cook’s five years surveying the vast and remote coastline of Newfoundland is recognized as ideal preparation for his role of leading the 1768 voyage to the Pacific to witness the transit of Venus.

As in Whitby, Paul’s presentation focused on Cook’s time in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador and the 2017 James Cook 250 Anniversary celebration planned by the IATNL and Western Newfoundland’s Cabox Aspiring Geopark, to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. After the presentation and Q&A, Paul went on a walking tour of the grounds with Senior Museum Curator Phil Philo and IAT partner Cleveland Way National Trail Manager Malcolm Hodgson, who helped arrange the visit and presentations. Many thanks to Phil and the staff at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, as well as Sophie, Peter and the staff at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, for the warm welcome and opportunity to present the 250th Anniversary story of Cook in Eastern Canada.

(L to R) Malcolm Hodgson, Paul Wylezol and Phil Philo

Many thanks also to Malcolm and Memorial University of Newfoundland (Grenfell Campus) History Professor Olaf Janzen for contributing his recent Cook in Newfoundland paper.  We hope to see you all again in 2017! For more on the story, go to love Middlesbrough blog.

IAT Scotland’s Tom Stevenson Awarded BEM

Left to right, John Ross, Jimmy Begg, Tom Stevenson, Robert Clark and Ronnie Irving at the information board adjacent to the Tourist Office at Stranraer waterfront. The IAT Scotland logo is located bottom right.

On June 20 after some delay, Tom Stevenson, project manager for Scotland’s Mull of Galloway Trail and member of the Rotary Club of Stranraer, became the first IAT representative to receive a British Empire Medal.    The presentation was made by Lord Lieutenant of Wigtown Dr John Ross at a Rotary meeting at North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer, and was attended by many of the members who helped create the Mull of Galloway Trail.

Tom and his wife Sheila on the grounds of Buckingham Palace

In May, Tom and his wife Sheila attended a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, which was also attended by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and many other members of the Royal Family.  All recipients of the BEM are invited to a Royal Garden Party and while residents of Scotland normally go to Edinburgh, Tom and his wife – who previously attended an event at Holyrood Palace – were able to arrange travel to London.  They remained for four days and visited the Houses of Parliament (where they saw processions going to and from the State Opening of Parliament) and Royal Mews directly opposite their hotel on Buckingham Palace Road.

Tom first found out about the nomination in November 2015, but kept it secret from family and friends – except his wife – until December 30.   “I was surprised and delighted when I found out,” he said.  “I hope it will be good for both the trail and the club.” 

Tom in the driver’s seat on the Mull of Galloway Trail

The Mull of Galloway Trail continues to be well used and the number of website visitors keeps increasing every year.  During 2015 the site had over 15,000 unique visitors and over 1,000,000 hits.  This spring and summer Tom and his crew were busy doing maintenance and improvements on the trail, with the local Council agreeing to cover many of the costs.

In May 2015, the Rotary Clubs of Stranraer, Ayr, Gourock, and Allander gathered at Milngavie to inaugurate the Firth o Clyde Rotary Trail, a partnership of the Mull of Galloway Trail, Ayrshire Coastal Path and Clyde Coastal Path. 

At Milngavie, the 161 mile (266km) IAT Scotland route through the Lowlands meets the West Highland Way, and continues north to Fort William and the Cape Wrath Trail. 

Tom Stevenson

Congratulations Tom Stevenson BEM!

… and the Mull of Galloway Trail and Stranraer Rotary!

 

Maine to Reroute 52 Miles of IAT

The International Appalachian Trail continues to draw hikers to northern Maine, offering a tour through varied landscapes and a connection to Canada and beyond.

This summer, the Maine chapter is aiming to reroute 52 miles of the trail that currently is set along roadways in southern Aroostook County. About 65 miles of trail are currently set along a road shoulder.

The roughly 13 miles along Grand Lake Road from Matagamon to Shin Pond is actually “good road walking,” with wide shoulders and few trucks, and that will remain a part of the route, Hudson said. For the other 52 miles, the chapter is working with landowners to reroute the trail from Shin Pond to Monticello, aiming to move the trail to old woods roads and all-terrain vehicle trails. A section they’ve secured will run along the south side of Mount Chase, and offer a link to a trail up the 2,440-foot mountain of the same name.

Location of new sectiion of off-road trail

“The idea is in the long-run to get rid of the bulk of the road walking, and to use a combination of woods roads and paths,” including multi-use ATV trails, said Hudson, the former president of the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset.

For more on the story, go to the Bangor Daily News – Maine Outdoors website.

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! 

Pioneers of Appalachian/Caledonian Geology

A committee of IAT geologists including Walter Anderson, Robert Marvinney, Jim Hibbard, John Calder, and Hugh Barron have established guidelines and selected the first group of deceased honorees who are being recognized for their significant contribution to the understanding of Appalachian/Caledonian geology. Look for the stories of these Pioneers of Appalachian/Caledonian Geology on the IAT website soon!

 

IAT Crosses the Mediterranean into Africa

In July 2015, the International Appalachian Trail crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Spain into Morocco.  The addition of the African country marks the third and final continent of IAT expansion beyond borders to all “Appalachian” regions once connected on the super-continent Pangea more than 250 million years ago, when the Appalachians, Caledonians, and Anti Atlas Mountains were formed.

The first phase of IAT Morocco will extend approximately 600 kms from Midelt to Taroudant and be divided into 3 sections –  Midelt to Megdaz, Megdaz to Imlil (High Atlas Central), and Imlil to Tagmout (near Taroudant) – taking a combined 40+ days to complete on foot.

Map of IAT Morocco

Along the way, hikers will experience geography, culture and religious traditions unlike anything previously experienced along the IAT, from deserts to Berbers to the Muslim call to prayer.

Berber guide holding the IAT Morocco blaze

Highlights include Jebel Ayachi (the highest peak in the middle Atlas), 700m high Tatrout gorge, the famous Plateau Lakes and fortified cliffside village of Irherm n’ Ouchtim, the ridge of Mgoun (the second highest peak in North Africa) and Megdez, arguably the most beautiful village in the Atlas Mountains.

Red earth houses of Megdez

Next up are Anghomer Pass (Tizi n’Timlilt, 3100m) and the tremendous views of Ouazarzate and Jebel Sahro range, Ardrar Mahboub with its superb views south towards the Sahara, Yagour Plateau (well-known for rock carvings), and Mount Toubkal, at 4167m, the highest peak in the High Atlas and North Africa.

Red earth houses of Megdez

Others include the Sultan’s Kasbah Gandafa Palace (17th century), Tinmal Mosque (12th century), Jebel Imaradene summit, and the plateau of a thousand peaks.

Tinmal Mosque

The IAT Morocco blaze (i.e., trail marker) contains the familiar IAT/SIA  layout, with the addition of the country’s flag on top and IAT QR code at bottom.

Blazes are currently being installed along the route, with the assistance of IAT partner Morocco Trek and local volunteers. Hikers looking for assistance in finding the route and planning their IAT Morocco adventure can contact Morocco Trek at http://www.moroccotrek.co.uk/.

Morocco Trek Campsite near Megdez