IAT Quebec Launches Grande Randonnée Trail
On October 2, the International Appalachian Trail Québec and France's Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP) officially designated IAT Québec (IAT-QC) as North America's first Grande Randonnée ("Great Hike") - the GR®A1 (America 1) - at Forillon National Park.
The international event took place at Cap Gaspé
and marked the closing of the second Traversée de la Gaspésie (TDLG) on Foot, which ran from September 26 to October 3.
TDLG hikers gather for the GRA1 Launch at Cape Gaspé in Forillon National Park
The GR® designation is part of an international strategy aimed at strengthening ties between IAT Québec and the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (French Hiking Federation) and promoting hiking in Western Europe and North America.
The FFRP first traveled to Gaspésie with information on the GR® program in October 2013. In 2014, IAT Québec was granted GR® designation, with permission to use the famous white and red trail markers.
(L-R) Kirk St Peter, Don Hudson, Paul Wylezol and Hugues Deglaire with new GRA1 trail marker
The October 2 Launch was preceded by an IAT/FFRP dinner and refreshments at Brise Bise pub in the town of Gaspé
(L-R) Hugues Deglaire, Paul Wylezol, Don Hudson, Guy Berçot, Eric Chouinard, Kirk St Peter and Clémence Pepin
and a morning trek along the coast of Forillon National Park
where hikers were treated to about a dozen gray seals who swam in for the celebrations!
These began with music and song along the trail
and in the lighthouse shed
Shed party at Cape Gaspé Lighthouse
where approximately 100 hikers gathered for the main event!
Next up was opening introductions and official statements by Parks Canada, IAT, TDLG and RRPF officials
(L-R) Eric Chouinard, Executive Director, IAT Québec; Paul Wylezol, Chairperson, IAT; Stéphane Marchand, Director, Forillon National Park; Claudine Roy, President, TDLG; and Don Hudson, President, IAT Maine
IAT Québec's Eric Chouinard addresses the crowd next to the 1998 SIA-IAT plaque
followed by the unveiling of a new GRA1 sign
(L-R) Eric Chouinard, IAT Québec; Guy Berçot, FFRP; and Claudine Roy, TDLG
IAT Québec's Eric Chouinard and FFRP's Guy Berçot shake on the new GRA1 designation
to more music and much applause.
The bilingual sign describes IAT Québec and the GR® designation and outlines the route on a map of the Gaspé Peninsula.
Photos by Hugues Deglaire and Paul Wylezol