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About our organisation
Presentation of the International Appalachian Trail (SIA/IAT)
The Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains were formed more than 250 Million years ago during the Paleozoic Era, when the earth's plates collided to form the supercontinent Pangea. They straddled the central part of that continent in what is today eastern North America, eastern Greenland, Western Europe, and northwest Africa. When today"s continents separated to form the Atlantic Ocean, remnants of the Appalachians ended up in the eastern United States, eastern Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Brittany, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria.
The IAT is the idea of Dick Anderson, a fisheries biologist and former commissioner of Maine's Department of Conservation. Dick had a dream, much like Benton Mac Kaye's dream of the Appalachian Trail. He dreamed of connecting with at trail the highest summits of the bioregion of the Northern Forest, on both sides of the US-Canada border.
"I visualized a trail that would connect two countries and cultures, link a state and two provinces and traverse two major watersheds--the Gulf of Maine and the Gulf of St. Lawrence."
The idea was first proposed to the public on Earth Day, April 22nd 1994 by Maine gubernatorial candidate Joe Brennan. From 1995 up until 2001, Maine, Québec, and New Brunswick were building a 1085 km long trail network that was connecting Mount Katahdin in Maine to Cap Gaspé in Québec.
In 2001, one could hike all the way down to Key West, Florida, using the SIA/IAT (1085 km), the Appalachian Trail (3468 km) and a 3075 km long trail network that begins in Georgia. Thru-hikers like John Brinda and M. J. Eberhart were the first to tread on what became the Eastern Contiental Trail (ECT), in 1997 and in 1998 respectively. By doing so, they pushed further the boundaries of thru-hiking in North Eastern America.
From 2003 to 2008, the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador (2003), Nova Scotia (2007), and Prince Edward Island (2008) joined in, and the SIA/IAT expanded, and changed from a continuous trail into a trail network offering various itineraries to choose from. The SIA/IAT was by then 3017 km long and more cultures and more people, all related to the Appalaches, were connected in North America. As of 2010, one can walk from Belle Isle, Newfound Land, all the way down to Key West, Florida.
In the year 2009, the idea of connecting landscapes, peoples and cultures by the means of a hiking trail took another step forward. A delegation representing the SIA/IAT travelled to Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales to propose a connection between the Appalaches and the Caledonian mountains. The same proposal was made to Greenland at the end of 2009. The mountains of these countries share a common geological history since they were part of the same mountain chain - the Caledonian-Appalachian mountain belt - some 420 million years ago.
There are other portions of the Caledonian-Appalachian mountain belt elsewhere in the world - Norway, France, Spain, Portugal, Moroco, and Algeria and the SIA/IAT is looking forward to creating an international hiking network with new or existing trail organizations in these countries.
The International Appalachian Trail symbolizes the will to collaborate in the protection and the valorization of the environment as to the development of the imposing landscapes which join together them.