The Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail was recently given a $1,000 check by Eddie Woodin to kick off our 2022 Annual Appeal. Pictured below is Eddie, presenting the check to Walter Anderson, Dick Anderson, and Earl Raymond earlier this month. This generous gift will go far, and we are most grateful.

Walter, Dick, Eddie, and Earl

When the International Appalachian Trail was proposed to connect the people, cultures, and grand landscapes of Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec, none of us imagined that it would be anything more than that––a trail to connect us to our two Canadian neighbors,  New Brunswick and Quebec.

This past May, Maine IAT members Phine Ewing, Robin Patten, and Don Hudson traveled to Omagh, Northern Ireland, to represent the North American IAT and speak at the dedication of a sculpture commissioned to celebrate the deep and abiding connections between the Scots and Irish people of Northern Ireland and Donegal and their relatives who immigrated to the Appalachian regions of Eastern North America. Inspired by Dick Anderson’s credo––thinking beyond borders, the sculpture, entitled Murmuration, comprises hundreds of words that touch on our transatlantic relationships. Representatives of the 30 tribes dispossessed of their land in Appalachia, in part by the emigrating Scots Irish, were invited to contribute. Project leaders also invited African Americans to contribute thoughts from their ancestors’ stories about enslavement on these same lands. The result is at once uplifting and disturbing, full of hope and full of sadness––not to be forgotten.

The words “INTERNATIONAL APPALACHIAN TRAIL” begin the top line of the sculpture, and “THINKING BEYOND BORDERS” leads the second row. Words and phrases run for nearly 30 meters; eight rows from top to bottom, and on both sides of this sculpture that evokes a murmuration of birds. You’ll find the names of the 30 dispossessed tribes along with the chilling words “Middle Passage”. The word “Hope” is written in the nearly three dozen languages that are now spoken in Northern Ireland and Donegal. Katahdin is there. If you would like to download a copy of the pdf that has all the words on the sculpture, you may do that by clicking here. You may also download a companion pdf that explains and translates some of the words here.

Sign that talks about the IAT

When we set out to create the IAT, a monumental sculpture was far from our minds. The work was physical and demanding––cutting or clearing trails and building lean-tos. As the IAT community grew with each new section, the need for maps, guides, and information for hikers was top of the punch list. We’ve added interpretation of Earth history and geoheritage to our list of tasks, and on we go!

The Maine IAT Board of Directors will be developing a strategic plan in early 2023 to help guide the organization in the coming decades. Three broad goals have been proposed to help frame our objectives and help prioritize activities and programs:

STEWARDSHIP: to protect and maintain the footpath and campsites of the IAT in Maine.

EDUCATION: to expand public knowledge and awareness of the IAT’s natural, historic, and cultural values for their own intrinsic value and to grow a community of support and leadership to sustain the trail well into the future. Foremost among these values is the geologic heritage that connects the IAT across chapters in 13 countries on 3 continents.

ENGAGEMENT: to maintain policy, financial, and operational support for the Maine Chapter of the IAT––and by extension the international council of the IAT chapters, through sustainable governance, a strong financial base, and the engaged interest of hikers and walkers in Maine and all along the IAT from Maine to Morocco.

We look forward to getting your feedback on the draft plan when it is ready for review early in 2023. It will help us shape our annual work and to build the Maine IAT community.

We want to thank you all for being a part of the IAT, and for supporting us throughout the years! Have a happy and healthy December, and we will see you on the trail in 2023.

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