Big Hikes on the IAT

The questions about hiking the IAT started coming early in the fall of 2016; questions about transportation, trail conditions in Maine, contacts for hiker information in Canada, and all the routes around the North Atlantic.

Denali, Don Hudson, Wuss
No one had proposed to walk the entire International Appalachian Trail, from the southeastern geographical high point of Flagg Mountain, Alabama, to the town of Taroudant, Morocco before Anne Conover reached out to us to learn more about the trail. Originally from Texas, Anne was teaching science in South Dakota when the IAT came across her screen. Something in the description of the trail, its origin and geologic underpinnings, and outlandish vision caught her attention. During one back and forth between Dick Anderson and Don Hudson, while discussing Anne’s plans to include some tall ship sailing to make connections between the trail in North America and the trail in Europe, the trail name of ‘Sail Away’ for Anne popped into Don’s head, and Anne accepted it enthusiastically. Plans were hatched to begin hiking north from Flagg Mountain as soon as possible after the end of the school year.

Barney ‘Scout’ Mann reached out to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in the late winter with a request for help in promoting his new book about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Barney was planning a southbound hike on the Maine section of the IAT as well as the AT, and he proposed a presentation and book signing for "someplace in Portland, Maine" in late May, just before heading out on his walk. Hawk Metheny at the northeast office of the AT in western Massachusetts put Barney in touch with Dick and Don, and they quickly added Seth Levy to the ad hoc committee charged with finding a venue for the book PCT.
Faith ‘Wuss’ McClure got in touch with Carol Gay in the IAT office in December with questions about the IAT in Maine and the connection to the AT through Baxter State Park. Faith had never done anything like this before, but she was planning to do a southbound hike of the Eastern Continental Trail from the Maine/New Brunswick border to her home state of Florida. Faith’s questions came just at the time that the Baxter State Park Authority closed the Katahdin Lake East gate used by the IAT to get from the new national monument into Avalanche Field in Baxter. We hemmed and hawed, and promised Faith that we’d have answers for her by the time in late May that she intended to start walking south.
Later in the winter, we first heard from Mary ‘Denali McKinley who was planning to walk the IAT from Maine to Cap Gaspé, Quebec during her free summer (Mary is a math prof) as part of her section-hike of the entire Eastern Continental Trail. Mary had already walked all but the southern-most 100 miles of the ECT in Florida between Florida and Maine, and she was ready to begin to put the IAT behind her. Just as with Barney and Faith, our exchanges focused on how to get from the trail into Baxter now that the longstanding route past Katahdin Lake was temporarily blocked.
As this newsletter goes to press, we can report that all of these great hikes are on track or have been successfully completed.

Sail Away
Sail Away is well on her way north, having taken a well-deserved day off to visit in farm in Asheville, North Carolina. Her brother walked with her for the first stretch, and now she’s heading north on the AT. She’ll make her way to the White Mountains of New Hampshire this fall, and stop for the winter season to earn some money and continue to plan for the trail ahead. The current plan is to complete the entire trail in four years — a challenging and inspiring goal. You can follow Sail Away’s progress at her blog –
By now, Scout, is likely walking in Maryland or West Virginia, on his way to Springer Mountain and the end of his summer’s walk on October 20th. You can follow him here – Scout makes a point to provide up to date information about trail conditions in his blog entries, and his early entries about the IAT in Maine are no exception. This kind of reporting is essential for those of us who maintain the trail.
One of the joys of working on the IAT in Maine is the opportunity to interact with the hiking community, a rich and varied collection of individuals. Half of the group presented here are southbounders (SOBOs) on the IAT. Cheryl and Kirk St. Peter stepped right up to job of ‘Trail Angels’ and helped Scout and Wuss, as well as ‘RT’ — a third SOBO who showed up serendipitously as Cheryl and Kirk were dropping off Scout in Fort Fairfield. Cheryl’s note of a few days later says it all:
5/31 – From Cheryl
Hi Scout!
First, so sorry about the tick! Really, Kirk didn’t think we had any this far north, since we’ve never encountered any or heard of anyone encountering any (until now). Also, sorry about the bogs – glad you found that a highlight. We actually followed the ATV path when it veered off the border trail when we hiked in 2010.
Second, the road walk from Shin Pond to Matagamon is not a typical road walk, since it’s all through the woods with no houses – very pleasant, actually. FYI, a really nice place to take a break is at Hay Lake; it’s worth a stop.
Third, we’ve been reading both journal entries – yours and RT’s – great entries and photos – thanks!
Attached is the story that I finally had a chance to write up for our website. Let me know if you see anything you’d like to change before we post it.
Good luck with the rest of your hike!
Cheryl (& Kirk)
P.S. Did you ever meet up with Faith “Wuss” McClure at Brookside? I wonder how she’s doing?

What about Wuss?!
When Mary ‘Denali’ McKinley got in touch to tell us that she was arriving in Portland on June 9th, Dick and Don decided to meet with her before she headed out on the trail. The connections by bus from Portland to Millinocket consume most of a day, so Don offered to drop Denali at the Mile #12 starting point of the IAT in Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument the next day. As Don and Denali arrived at the drop-off point on the Loop Road in the monument, out of the woods walked Wuss. After dropping Denali’s pack in the Katahdin Brook lean-to, Don dropped her at the old Katahdin Lake East path before ferrying Wuss to the AT Lodge in Millinocket.
As Denali headed north, Wuss headed south. When Don reported to Denali in late July that Wuss had taken a well-deserved week off to rest her knees, she proposed that we change Wuss’s trail name to No Wuss. And, it’s done! While Denali wrapped up her hike at Cap Gaspé on August 13th, No Wuss was heading into Massachusetts on her way south. No Wuss has elected to by pass the Mahoosucs and the White Mountains until her legs are stronger and her knees more resilient.
The stories of long distance hikers put trails such as the IAT on the map. We have no idea how many people have walked the IAT in Maine or the complete trail in Canada, yet we are confident that the story of John Brinda’s walk in 1997 inspired Nimblewill Nomad — Eb Eberhart — to walk from Key West to Belle Isle.
The four stories shared here are just a handful of stories from the IAT this summer, and they will no doubt inspire others to get out on the trail in the coming months and years.
A walk in the woods is never truly a solitary experience!

Orin Falls Hike with Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki of the Bangor Daily News will take you on a 1-minue hike of Orin Falls in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Click Here to go to the full story on the Bangor Daily News website and watch the video.
About Aislinn Sarnacki
Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at

IAT Attends 2017 ATC Biennial

(L-R) Dick Anderson, Earl Raymond, Don Hudson and Paul Wylezol at the IAT booth
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy held workshop and business component of its AT Vista conference at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, between Friday, August 4th and Sunday August 5th.
The International Appalachian Trail was well-represented by the North American contingent, including Maine Chapter Board Members Dick Anderson, Don Hudson, Earl Raymond, and Herb Hartman.
IAT Maine Board Member Cliff young wears two hats; Cliff spent a busy weekend as a conference volunteer for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. The connections between MATC and IAT Maine are growing annually in large part owing to Cliff’s participation with both groups.
The IAT workshops were well attended, beginning with a presentation by Poul Jorgensen of IAT New Brunswick and Sentier NB Trails, which included a very nice glimpse of the new southern route for the IAT — from Perth Andover to St. John, and on to southeastern New Brunswick and the links to PEI and Nova Scotia. The IAT is a bit like the Silk Road, as it is in fact a network of trails that lead from Maine through Atlantic Canada to the North American terminus at Crow Head, overlooking the United Nations World Heritage site at L’anse aux Meadows. IAT International Council co-chair Paul Wylezol followed up with an overview of IAT development across Europe, as well as an in-depth introduction to the Global Geopark system, now a UNESCO program on par with Man and the Biosphere and the World Heritage program. Paul focused on ‘Drifting Apart’, the EU-funded collaboration of Geoparks around the North Atlantic Ocean Basin, which were inspired — he suspects — by the organizing geologic principles of the IAT. There are now two Canadian partners in Drifting Apart, including Stonehammer Geopark in southwestern new Brunswick and the Cabox aspiring Geopark, named for the highest point in Newfoundland and centered on the Humber Valley and the very special tectonic history of that region. The stunning photography — is there ever a cloudy day in the Humber Valley?!! — jad a lot of people buzzing about making a trip to walk in Newfoundland. Central to IAT Newfoundland’s focus this year, and for the coming several years, is the celebration of James Cook’s explorations and mapmaking, which began in earnest in western Newfoundland 250 years ago. Look for Cook 250 reports throughout the remainder of this year in particular, as the IAT in Newfoundland winds right along the dramatic coastline where Cook cut his teeth as a chart maker for the British Admiralty.
The afternoon workshop focused on the IAT in the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Dick Anderson opened with the history of IAT Maine’s relationship with landowner Roxanne Quimby in 2004, and the succession of land acquisition, trail, and campsite building that brings us to the present time. Don Hudson and Earl Raymond then filled out Dick’s outline, and left the audience with a good understanding of how IAT Maine Board Members helped to explore and interpret the rich human and natural history of the East Branch lands in advance of the gift by Roxanne of 89,000 acres to the nation, and President Obama’s official designation of the monument on August 24, 2016. Some concern about the status of the monument under the review of current Department of Interior Secretary Zinke surfaced. Don shared his confidence in the process, and his expectation that though some specific recommendations may result for Zinke’s review, such as the development of a model, working forest for a 13,000 acre parcel in the northeast corner of the monument, the overall status will remain unchanged. In fact, Secretary Zinke stated flatly that the best outcome might be for the monument to move as quickly as possible to National Park status. Readers of this space should stay tuned! Just as the morning session created a bit of a buzz about exploring Atlantic Canada, the afternoon session left participants wanting to have a closer look at places such as Stair Falls, Thoreau’s Checkerberry Campsite, or the Old Keep Path, which was surveyed shortly after statehood on order by the Maine Legislature to flesh out the route for a wagon road from the east to the top of Katahdin — not to be out done by the Mt. Washington Road.
The business and workshop component of the conference concluded largely Sunday evening, including the traditional reception for long distance thru-hikers, hosted this year by the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association and the IAT. Dick lead off the reception with high praise of retired ATC Executive Director David Startzell. Dick said of Dave, "[here add some quotes directly from Dick’s speech — Dick, send a copy of your speech to Carol, please!]. Paul and Don then presented Dave with a framed certificate as one of IAT Maine’s first class of Honorary Directors. Dave joins Governor Joe Brennan, founding treasurer Bill Nichols, and the indomitable Torrey Sylvester, who almost single-handedly acquired 8 of our 9 lean-tos as outrigh donations from Katahdin Log Homes. This first group of Honorary Directors is an exemplary band of friends and champions of the trail.
Conference goers will stay in the Waterville area through August 11th to enjoy field trips and a variety of half- and day-long workshops on a range of aspects of trail building and maintenance, as well as search and rescue and other aspects of organizational responsibility and leadership.
The 2020 AT Vista Conference will be at Ramapo College in New Jersey, and the IAT will be there!