Despite lock-downs, social-distancing, cancellations, and other disruptions the Maine IAT made the best of the a truly miserable 2020 and accomplished several significant tasks.
In May, thanks in large part to the perseverance of IAT Board Member Nancy Hathaway, along with members Earl Raymond, Walter Anderson, and Bob Marvinney, the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument (including 30 miles of the IAT) was designated the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary on the eastern seaboard. Nancy and Maine IAT President Don Hudson have also begun work on a proposal to the International Dark-Sky Association to designate the entire Maine IAT a “Dark-Sky Trail”.
In July, our tireless vice-president, Elaine Hendrickson, spearheaded a Virtual Hike of the Maine IAT. The idea was simple – hike wherever you like and send us your mileage, the goal being for each hiker to accumulate a total of 138 miles – the length of the Maine IAT. The response was enthusiastic to say the least, with nearly 60 participants hiking a total of 5,500 miles – more than the length of the entire IAT!
And in August, after over a year of work, Bill Duffy completed our first set of Guthook Guides for the Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec sections of the IAT. At last check, the smartphone app had been downloaded over 50 times and was used by many of the folks who managed to hike the Maine IAT this summer.
Though our usual spring trail work trips were cancelled, the previously mentioned “tireless” Elaine and her husband Eric did yeoman’s work cleaning and cutting brush around nearly every lean-to on the Maine IAT as well as clearing sections of the trail in the Katahdin Woods & Water (KWW) National Monument. Bill Duffy and Jude Eldridge managed to make it to KWW for a few days in September where they worked on a particularly nasty section of ingrowing alders, cleared fire rings, and built cairns to help mark the trail across the summit of Lunksoos Mountain.
Not all our board members were able to get out on the IAT this season, but many made good use of the extra time they had with their families. The highlight for Julia Daly was a canoe trip down the East Branch of the Penobscot River from Matagamon to Whetstone with her twin girls. Julia reports “We loved seeing the national monument from the water, enjoying areas I had previously seen looking down from the IAT”.
Josh Bowe packed his 1-year-old daughter in carrier and did several family friendly hikes with his wife and 4-year-old son during the pandemic, including a visit to Vinalhaven Island.
Although Cole Peters wasn’t able to hike any of the IAT he managed regular beach walks near his home. And, on the last day of 2020, Cole and a friend I hiked to the west overlook of Hawk Mountain in the Oxford Hills, where he made one resolution – ”To get out to hike more…!”
Board member and long-distance hiker extraordinaire, Cotton Joe Norman honed his drone flying skills this past spring (see his Instagram feed for more photos). During the summer and fall Joe made trips to explore the Mahoosuc and Bigelow Ranges and the Downeast Coast of Maine. Joe also spent some quality time chatting with fellow board members Earl Raymond and Will Richard.
IAT Board member and UMPI geology professor Chunzeng Wang, made several reconnaissance trips to the upper East Branch of the Penobscot as part of his bedrock mapping project of the whole region. Chunzeng was often accompanied by fellow board member and Maine state geologist, Bob Marvinney, and led field trips to many well-known and newly discovered geologic sequences in Aroostook and Penobscot counties (including “Probably the best outcrop of unconformity ever found in Maine!!!”).
Finally, Maine IAT President, Don Hudson, who always has many irons in the several fires, actually managed to spend a lot of time with his family, including his two grandsons. Don and his wife Phine helped their son and daughter-in-law with a residential semester program hosted at the latter’s farm during the fall. This included developing a practical course on the biology and chemistry of everyday life, including the brewing of a couple of batches of beer.
In an effort to pull some of those irons out of the fire, Don wrapped up his volunteer involvement with Cornerstones of Science this past year and finished up his term as President of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Board of Directors in November.
The upcoming year is looking a lot better than the last. With luck (and a serious knock on wood) , we hope to see many of you back on the trail in 2021!