The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association met a little closer to home this year. The annual Gathering of ALDHA was held at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams over Columbus Day weekend -- Oct 7-10. Our contingent from Maine was lead by Dick Anderson and Walter Anderson, accompanied for the first time by Don Hudson and Seth Levy. Steve Pinkham and Suzanne Goulet also joined the group for the largest representation from the chapter in 15 years of attendance at ALDHA Gatherings.
The corner booth at the Hiker's Fair was visited by nearly all of the 450 participants at the Gathering, most of whom were very interested to hear about the growth of the trail in Europe. Information about hiking in Atlantic Canada and Scotland disappeared from the table top as quickly as it could be placed there. Three cases of water donated by Poland Spring were also snapped up in a day and a half. The Maine Chapter also held a small raffle of several items to support ALDHA. Autographed copies of Eb Eberhart's (Nimblewill Nomad's) two books – Where Less the Path is Worn and Ten Million Steps – were included along with two copies of the AMC's Guide to Winter Camping and Nopack's original day pack.
Andrew Skurka speaking with Seth Levy at IAT Booth
The Maine Chapter was also well represented amongst the presenters. Seth Levy and Steve Pinkham drew a crowd on Saturday morning to hear about the 30-mile section of trail east of Baxter. While Seth highlighted aspects of the route, Steve added information about the history of lumbering and sporting camps along the way. Don Hudson presented an update on activities in Europe and North Africa from June 2009 to the present, including the trips to Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. The latest updates included the identification of the entire IAT route in Scotland and the addition of a new section in Wales. At the last meeting of the Scottish Chapter, in addition to electing officers, the group identified the route of the IAT across the country. Beginning in the south, the trail will run from Mull of Galloway near Stranmaer to Glasgow along the Firth o Clyde Rotary Trail, from Glasgow to Fort William along the world famous West Highland Way, and from the foot of Ben Nevis in Fort William to the tip of Cape Wrath along the Cape Wrath Trail. The Welsh Chapter has added the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in the southwest to their IAT route. Walter Anderson presented a concise review of the geology that underpins the IAT to a very engaged audience. It is becoming clear that the history of the formation of the Appalachian mountains going back 100s of millions of years is one of the compelling stories of the IAT. It is also fair to state that the trail is stimulating increased interest and understanding in the forces that have shaped the planet. Dick Anderson concluded the slate of four Maine Chapter presentations with a travelogue of the highlights of hiking in Newfoundland. It was clear by the level of interest at this and other presentations that interest in long distance hiking in Atlantic Canada is growing.
Don Hudson – Extending IAT into Europe
Dick Anderson - IAT in US and Canada
A highlight of the weekend was a presentation by extreme adventurer Andrew Skurka. Nearby Williams College hosted the presentation in their large, modern theater, and the room was packed to hear Andrew and see pictures and video of his 4,700-mile trek by foot, ski, and pack raft around Alaska and the Yukon Territory in Canada. This remarkable journey was just the latest in Andrew's young life, and the fourth major expedition since he walked and snowshoed across the United States and Canada eight years ago – including the stretch of the IAT from Cap Gaspé to Katahdin. This latest adventure will be chronicled in the March 2012 edition of National Geographic, and will include stunning photography and the details of joy, hardship and even some peril that marked the journey. Don't miss it!
Next year's Gathering will move south, likely to Concord College in Athens, West Virginia. We look forward to a return of the group to North Adams in 2013, where the Maine Chapter will once again be strongly represented.
Photos by Walter Anderson