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.

GRA1 SignNew GRA1 Sign (click to enlarge)
 
 
The festivites continued throughout the day, and ended at night with a satanic themed costume party in the town of Gaspé.
 
Satanic themed partyClosing Satanic themed costume party (click to enlarge)
 
Kirk St Peter (IAT Maine), Guy Berçot (FFRP), Paul Wylezol (IAT Newfoundland) and Eric Chouinard (IAT Québec)
 
 
For more information on IAT Québec and the new GRA1, go to the SIA-IAT website.
 
 
(L-R) IAT Devils Paul (Newfoundland), Don (Maine) and Eric (Québec)
 
If you see any devils along the route, touch a trail marker and tell 10 friends they must walk the IAT!!!
 

 Photos by Hugues Deglaire and Paul Wylezol