1000 People Attend IAT Portugal Launch

On a sunny and warm Saturday, March 28, approximately one thousand people gathered in Naturtejo Geopark, Portugal to officially launch GR38 - Grande Roto Do Muradal-Pangeia as the newest section of the Trilho Internacional dos Apalaches.


IAT Portugal MapGR38 - Grande Roto Do Muradal-Pangeia / Trilho Internacional dos Apalaches Map (Click to enlarge)

Joining the crowd were Geopark President Armindo Jacinto, Oleiros Municipal President Fernando Marques Jorge, Turismo Centro Portugal President Pedro Machado, Naturtejo Geopark Geologist and IAT Portugal President Carlos Carvalho, Canadian Counsellor and Consul David Marion, IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol, and IAT Spain President Ruth Hernandez.


After opening ceremonies at the Idanha-a-Nova town square

Naturtejo Geopark President Armindo Moreira Palma Jacinto addresses the crowd


Clockwise from top left, Turismo Centro Portugal President Pedro Machado, Oleiros Tourism and Culture Director Paulo Urbano, Oleiros Municipal President Fernando Marques Jorge, Naturtejo Geopark Geologist and IAT Portugal President Carlos Carvalho, Canadian Counsellor and Consul David A. Marion, and IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol


Some of those gathered for the launch of IAT Portugal


the crowd - which was supplied with IAT Portugal branded hats and walking sticks - walked to the nearby trail in the Portuguese Appalachians.


Once at the trail, they were met by a stone age acting troupe

IAT Portugal(Click to Enlarge)

who urged them on with primitive grunts and the incessant sound of traditional drum beats.  


The crowd was so large, that a continuous ribbon of hikers shuffled up the first hill at a grocery checkout pace. 

Ben LomondHikers climb the first hill at the GR38 - IAT Portugal Launch (Click to Enlarge)
At the base of the hill, a signpost points the way to L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland (the northern terminus of the IAT in North America) and Springer Mountain, Georgia, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the United States.  It is one of 140 that marks the new trail.
(L-R) IAT Portugal President Carlos Carvalho, Canadian Counsellor and Consul to Portugal
David Marion, IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol, and IAT Spain President Ruth Hernandez
Below the signpost is a description of the 1502 Cantino Planisphere and the Portuguese role in the exploration of North America.
IAT Portugal1502 Cantino Planisphere and description of Portuguese exploration of North America (Click to Enlarge)
Once on top of the first hill, the crowd began to spread out along a quartzite ridge crowned with large trees
which provides good views of the surrounding landscape.
 Launch organizer Inês Martins enjoying the trail and view
Interpretive panels are strategically located to help walkers understand the Appalachian landscape they are walking over and viewing.
Once across the first mountain, the trail descends into a tree-lined valley with small waterfalls and refreshing pool.
Group of hikers relaxing at the falls and pool 
It then crosses a well-built wooden bridge
and follows an old farmer's path down the valley
with nice rear views of the landscape just traversed. 
Soon the trail enters the small village of Vilar Barroco
where on the day of the launch, main street was transformed into a large free open-air cafeteria to feed the hungry hikers.
The trail then winds past rustic animal pens,
stone walls and olive groves
on the way up and out of town.
Soon the trail provides spectacular views of the quartzite ridges and faults that form Portugal's Appalachian Mountains
before directing hikers to turn north and make the final ascent to the top.
Once again the trail follows a tree-lined ridge
with nice views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
 View of the Serra da Estrela and its 1,991m (6,532ft) summit Torre, the highest peak in mainland Portugal
Finally, the trail descends to the small town of Orvalho
where the official IAT Portugal Launch ended with a nightime feast and revelry!
For more sights and sounds of the IAT Portugal Launch, view the IAT Flickr Slideshow
then watch the official video!

Inauguração do Trilho Internacional dos Apalaches-GR38

Posted by Trilho Internacional dos Apalaches - Portugal on Thursday, April 2, 2015