International hiking trail extending to The County
The marks attest to the new connection. The first section of International Appalachian Trail/Sentier International des Appalaches that will eventually provide the extension from Mt. Katahdin to Mont Jacques Cartier in Quebec was officially cleared and tree markers placed on Sun., November 5.
A group of Mars Hill Boy Scouts braved the cold morning winds along with trail organizers to make the snowy climb up Mars Hill Mountain to the ridge line. The choice of the first section blazing was significant: this part of the trail allows a panoramic view of the two countries which will be connected by this international trail.
The aluminum 2" X 6" blaze, a white background bordered in blue, feature blue letter: IAT/SIA arranged to symbolize the project's spirit of international cooperation, explained trail president Dick Anderson, a Portland-based businessman.
The marker design was adopted by board members from Quebec, New Brunswick and Maine at a recent meeting in Millinocket.
Anderson notes that the trail extension will truly be a volunteer effort. By spring he hopes to have the support of other County groups to form the work crews needed to build the trail. In December, he'll speak to Mars Hill Rotary Club members, and next spring, there'll be an organizational meeting at the Mars Hill Country Club.
"The town of Fort Fairfield has offered their support as well," noted Anderson. "There's some land that we'll be able to help develop as a campground near the border thanks to their interest."
Trail board member Don Hudson of Arrowsic says the trail extension is a 'shoestring operation' that will use volunteers to trim trees and move rocks along the path.
Andrew Wake, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Quebec, trail vice president, said although New Brunswick will hire people to help build the trail, it will be with the collaboration of volunteer efforts. The Canadian faction has already organized a team, and issued several informational newsletters to date.
Scoutmaster Clint Watson, Troop 173, says the 15 boys in his troop will work at the local project site on an ongoing basis.
"We're doing this as a scout project," said Watson, adding that Sunday's scout foursome would grow in spring. Working on Sunday were Jon Oliver of Westfield, and Mars Hill youth Dennis McCartney, A. J. Wiggins and Robbie Collins.
"The trail extension will encourage more visitors to the area - the Appalachian Trail is known around the world - and give exposure to the Mars Hill area," Watson Said.
"The scouts have a chance to be a part of something unique," he continued.
The trail group sees a spring opening of the Fort Fairfield portion which, they say, has no real difficult terrain to deal with. Work will begin in spring on the other end of the connection in Patten as well as accelerated trail building of the central Aroostook section to the border.
The trail extension is expected to be completed on Earth Day, April 22,2000, and will stretch 434 miles from Mount Katahdin to Mount Jacques Cartier. The 11-mile section from Mars Hill to Fort Fairfield is expected to be open by June 1996.
"Sunday's trail blazing sets the tone for the kind of working relationships that will make this exercise in grassroots international affairs a great success," affirmed Anderson.