Monday, March 28, 2011

It's official: Ireland is now part of the International Appalachian Trail

Last year a group of European nations endorsed a project to extend the International Appalachian Trail across the Atlantic. Over the weekend, Ireland announced that it will officially become a part of the IAT.

The original Appalachian Trail, completed in 1937, extends roughly 2175 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia, to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Between 1995 and 2002, the AT was extended north into Canada. This extension, known as the International Appalachian Trail, treks 1900 miles from Mt. Katahdin to Belle Isle in northern Newfoundland.

Although this extension of the AT is completely logical, as the Appalachians extend all the way into that part of Canada, the rationale for the extension into Europe and North Africa is a little tenuous, at best.

The Appalachian range was created millions of years ago when the continental plates of North America and Europe collided. After the continents split apart, the mountains of eastern Europe and North Africa would became known as the Caledonian and Atlas Mountains. Thus, as the thinking goes, since the multiple mountain ranges were once part of one super range, it follows that the Appalachian Trail should traverse the entire historical range on all three continents.

The new Irish link will start at the spectacular coastal cliffs of Slieve League in County Donegal and extend to the stunning Antrim coast, finishing in Ballycastle, and for the most part, will use existing trails.

Once completed, the IAT will become the largest trail network in the world, with multinational membership on three continents.



davidrufner said...

I'm so against this! It is the particular, the finitude of certain things that makes them special. The Mona Lisa for instance is on a particular canvas in a particular city - not elsewhere it is on a canvas with dimensions that begin and end. Am I free to continue the painting on an adjoining canvas? I suppose I could, but I'd be a fool.

This too is foolishness. It does not add to, but rather takes away from that which is very special - the Appalachian Trail - and all who have labored for it or walked part or all of it.

This summer when I hike a portion of it with my 4 young kids I guarantee that they will again ask me where it starts and ends. I further guarantee that any explanation that includes multiple starts and stops, millions of years, & continental drift will confuse them and ultimately be deemed stupid and they will be right. Such an explanation is impoverished when compared to standing on the AT, looking down the green corridor, and feeling the presence of a mountain by the name of Springer at you back and the pull of one by the name of Katahdin before...

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

David - I completely agree with you - great comments.

What does hiking in Iceland or Belgium have to do with hiking in Virginia - absolutely nothing! So why pretend there's a connection?

You could say that the long distance hiking world has "jumped the shark" with the IAT....


Paul said...

Should have waited util april 1st to post this. That way it would make sense. ;)