Dick Anderson’s voice is unmistakable; a bit raspy and fueled by a love for life and people. When he called me in mid-October 1993 with an idea he had only shared with Patricia — his wife — I listened. “What if we extend the Appalachian Trail to the three highest peaks of Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec?” I said I’d meet him at the Front Street Deli in Bath the next morning at 9:00 am.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since that morning when I agreed to help. We added Dick Davies and Chloe Chunn to the organizing committee, and after a half dozen meetings we were ready to have Governor Joe Brennan announce the creation of the International Appalachian Trail, on Earth Day, April 22, 1994. We quickly dropped ‘extension’ for ‘connecting trail’ at the suggestion of Dave Startzell, then the Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
We made our goal to complete the trail from Maine to Quebec by Earth Day 2001. In the intervening years, twenty more chapters have joined the project, which now aims to connect all of the ancient Pangean terranes that rim the arc of the North Atlantic Ocean Basin – from Maine to Morocco. The pieces of the trail are coming together now in 13 countries on three continents.
No one has yet walked all of the International Appalachian Trail, and I am not sure that I have the time and energy to do it. Nevertheless, the thought crossed my mind several weeks ago that I shouldn’t wonder any longer, and I might as well get out on the trail, put some miles behind me, and see how it feels.
Tomorrow morning bright and early, Charlie Hudson will drop me at the Sam Everett Road in Fort Fairfield, Maine, and I’ll start walking south on the international border between New Brunswick and Maine. I’ll check in regularly with stories, ideas, thoughts, and maybe even a few images.
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