(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!

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