IAT Holds First AGM in Western Europe
On September 18-20, the IAT held its first Annual General Meeting in Western Europe, at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland. It was here in 2010 that the West Highland Way, became the first section of the International Appalachian Trail in Europe.
After opening welcome and introductions at park headquarters
IAT Scotland chairperson and West Highland Way trail officer Gordon Forrester welcomes participants
the three-day event began with an afternoon trek on the future John Muir Way, an east-west coast to coast trail which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, the 100th anniversary of the death of renowned Scottish American conservationist John Muir. (See related story.)
From the park headquarters at Balloch, the trail rises to a scenic lookoff with terrific views of Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond, and the surrounding hills and valleys.
One of the walking groups at scenic lookoff overlooking Loch Lomond, with Ben Lomond at far left
The trek was followed - as usual - by refreshments and dinner
Dinner and refreshments at Balloch House Vintage Inn
followed by an evening of presentations dedicated to John Muir, including on the John Muir Way (Stuart Davies - Scottish Natural Heritage), the life and legacy of John Muir (John Thomas - John Muir Trust), and the Darkwoods Carbon Forest Project (Rob Wilson from Toronto - Nature Conservancy of Canada).
Stuart Davies giving a presentation on the new John Muir Way
John Thomas giving a presentation on the life and legacy of Muir
Day Two was spent indoors at the annual meeting, with presentations by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy,
Former ATC Executive Director Dave Startzell giving a presentation on behalf of the ATC
British Geological Survey (BGS),
BGS's Hugh Barron giving a presentation on the geology of Scotland
and the various IAT Chapters in attendance.
IAT Europe Vice President Magne Haugseng discussing the new IAT Ireland route
Will Richard speaking on behalf of IAT Greenland
Eric Chouinard giving a presentation on IAT Quebec
Other items included the official IAT trail map,
IAT Maine's Bill Duffy explaining GIS and IAT mapping
Brill Gallery's Project Pangea book and video project,
Ralph Brill discussing the Project Pangea book and video project
and long-distance hiker Cotton Joe Norman's current trek of IAT Ireland and Scotland.
Long-distance hiker Cotton Joe Norman giving a slideshow on his recent IAT Ireland trek
Participants also heard a detailed account of the UK National Trails, which over the past year joined the International Appalachian Trail and on September 17 held an annual meeting in Balloch in conjunction with the IAT AGM.
Malcolm Hodgson, trail officer with the Cleveland Way and Yorkshire Wolds Way, discusses the UK National Trails
For the first time the IAT even discussed soil science, not surprising since walkers and ramblers can't move without stepping on it!
Soil scientist Alan Stapleton discusses soils while Cotton Joe Norman contemplates his dirty hikers
Day Two of the AGM ended with dinner at the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel
where Cotton Joe Norman received an honourary medal from the West Highland Way for being the first long-distance hiker of IAT Europe.
IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol presenting Cotton Joe Norman with an honourary medal
Day Three of the AGM was an outdoor day, with treks of the West Highland Way's Conic Hill and the Ayrshire Coastal Path. Stay tuned for more on these and other IAT trails!
Finally, a special thanks goes out to Gordon Forrester and his colleagues at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park for a well-organized and successful AGM. See you all at next year's meeting!!