From June 4 - 7, the International Appalachian Trail held its 20th Anniversary IAT North America General Meeting at Twin Pine Camps near Millinocket, Maine.
Located in view of (Mount) Katahdin - the end of the AT and beginning of the IAT - it was here at the 2008 AGM that the IAT decided to extend across the Atlantic Ocean to Western Europe and North Africa. Though much still needs to be done, in 2014 the IAT is now extending into Morocco.
A special focus of the 20th anniversary meeting was geo-heritage and geoparks, including presentations by a number of respected geologists from the U.S., Canada and Scotland.
For the first time, there were also representatives from IAT Europe at a North America meeting, including Hugh Barron from Scotland, Inga Bock from Ireland, and Ruth Hernandez from Spain.
The two-day event was preceded by a day-long hike of 5,269 ft (1,606 m) Katahdin,
named by the Penobscot Indians and meaning "The Greatest Mountain".
The meeting kicked off Thursday, June 5 with dinner and a presentation by John Neff and Howard Whitcomb, entitled Katahdin: A Mystical Realm.
Friday morning began with opening remarks and welcome by host Don Hudson, President of the Maine Chapter, followed by a look back at the original vision and early development of the IAT by Founder Richard 'Dick' Anderson, and a review of recent expansion across the Atlantic and the year ahead by IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol.
Next on the agenda was chapter updates, beginning with Will Richard's presentation on Greenland's Nussuaq Peninsula.
New Brunswick's Poul Jorgensen discussed a new IAT route linking the south of the province.
Poul was joined by Gail Bremner, Executive Director of Stonehammer Geopark, a geological designation in southern New Brunswick on the proposed new route connecting to Nova Scotia.
Claire MacLean outlined Nova Scotia's efforts to establish IAT NS, with participation from Hike Nova Scotia.
The chapter updates were followed by a Trail Towns panel discussion with representatives from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Mountain Club, Forest Society of Maine, Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Town of Millinocket, who also gave presentations on their own organizations.
Lunch at River Driver's Restaurant was followed by a field excursion to a section of IAT Maine, including a nearby campsite.
Friday evening's agenda was dedicated to geology, with presentations by Jim Hibbard, Professor of Geology at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
and John Calder, Senior Geologist at Nova Scotia's Mineral Resources Branch of the Department of Natural Resources.
Saturday morning began with a group photo on the Lake Millinocket waterfront, with Katahdin looming in the background.
It was followed by a panel discussion on the future of outdoor adventure and geo-heritage, including their economic impact on nearby communities.
During the morning session, current IAT long-distance hikers and "Balu" and "Hives" dropped by and were introduced by supporter Dick Anderson.
The meeting's final presentation was given by Scotland's Hugh Barron, who discussed the British Geological Survey and how geological surveys in general can play a role in developing the IAT. In the afternoon, Hugh joined Paul and John Calhoun (one of the first IAT North America thru-hikers) on a drive and hike in Baxter State Park.
After a final photo opportunity, the 20th Anniversary IAT North America General Meeting was adjourned.
.... to be followed by another afternoon of outdoor recreation and another evening of "attitude adjustment"!
Many thanks to Don Hudson and his organizing committee for a job well done!
Hope to see you at the 2014 IAT AGM in Plymouth, England in October!