NATIONAL COAST TRAIL ASSOCIATION

5124 N.E. 34th Avenue - Portland, OR - 97211 / 503-335-3876 / www.coasttrails.org

News Release

For Release: Monday, July 19th

Media Contacts: Al LePage, Executive Director, National Coast Trail Association - 503-335-3876

Brian King, Director of Public Affairs, Appalachian Trail Conference, 304-535-6331

"Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Event Continues On Appalachian Trail through NH & VT
Hiker turns southwest to travel national scenic trail section, fourth important link of "Great Northeast Trail,"give presentation for Dartmouth Outing Club and continue into Vermont

A special event, the "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Hike and Paddle continues on Saturday, July 31st from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in New Hampshire for the first full day of hiking on the Applachian Trail. Al LePage of Portland, Oregon plans to first hike some 400 miles and then paddle another 300 miles to eventually reach Oswego, New York and Lake Ontario by mid-September. He will be traveling along the "Great Northeast Trail" (GNET) - an envisioned trail system connecting proposed and existing land and water-based trails across New England, literally stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The event's focus is to promote and publicize this unique trail concept, and work cooperatively with trail organizations, government agencies, and others for public awareness about the many trails and connections that make it possible. The event is a personal journey, and although it is not a guided hike or paddle for the general public, LePage will be giving some presentations for the public during his trip. He is founder and executive director of the National Coast Trail Association, and continues his way southwest along much of the New Hampshire and Vermont section of the Appalachian Trail, the fourth significant link in his journey and will evenutually take him to the Long Trail of Vermont, where he will turn north.  LePage will also give a presentation about his "hike and paddle" for the public at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire on Sunday, August 15th at 7PM, in the lower level of Robinson Hall.  The "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" event is officially registered as a National Trails Day 2004 event with the American Hiking Society.

"The Appalachian Trail," starts Al LePage, executive director of the National Coast Trail Association, "what more can I say?  Here I am on a very complete trail system stretching more than 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia, a federally designated national scenic trail, the realized vision of a Benton MacKaye some 80 years ago.  But, will the trail still be here 80 years from now?  What you say, that's preposterous to even suggest that it will not!  But, you see, trails are like anything else built by people, time takes its toll, and unless things are maintained, well, they can disappear.  And, there's a lot of trail here, and that means trail maintenance most likely needs to be done every year.  Trails give a lot to those who use them, it only seems fair that we give something back to them, too.  You know what I mean, I'm talking about doing volunteer trail work.  What do you say?  Let keep the trail around for a very long time.  And thank you to all those who have volunteered their time and energy to keep connected over the years."

Three member clubs of the Appalachian Trail Conference maintain the Trail in New Hampshire and Vermont: The Appalachian Mountain Club and the US Forest Service maintain it from Grafton Notch, Maine, south to Kinsman Notch; the Dartmouth Outing Club maintains it from Kinsman Notch south to Vermont Route 12; and the Green Mountain Club maintains it from Route 12 south to the border of Massachusetts.  Each club has volunteers, summer crews, and caretakers who maintain the shelters and campsites.  Learn more about how you can help maintain and contribute your time, energy and other support to the Appalachian Trail by visiting the Conference's website at www.appalachiantrail.org.

The "Great Northest Trail" ("GNET") is envisioned as a continuous recreational 400-mile hiking and 300-mile paddling trail from the Atlantic to the shores of Lake Ontario through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Significant portions of this trail concept already exist, other major sections are already proposed or being established, and only a few minor linkages needed to be developed to make it complete. The trail would begin in Portland, Maine traveling the existing urban trail system there and extended along the proposed Mountain Division Trail to Fryeburg, Maine. It would then connect into New Hampshire and continue north on the existing trails of the White Mountain National Forest to connect with the Appalachian Trail around Carter Notch and continue across the state to reach the border at Hanover, New Hampshire into Vermont. Where the Appalachian Trail meets the Long Trail near Killington, Vermont, the route proceeds north until reaching the Winooski River, and then follows the proposed path of the Cross-Vermont Trail into Burlington, hiking north along the shore of Lake Champlain to eventually reach the historic homestead of Ethan Allen. The nearby public boat launch begins the paddling segment of the trail, first where the Winooski River enters the lake, next along the Lake Champlain Paddlers' Trail south to access the Champlain Canal, then the Erie Canal, and finally the Oswego Canal into Lake Ontario.

LePage is apparently the first person to ever attempt, in one continuous trip, the envisioned 700-mile Great Northeast Trail. He's also apparently the first person ever to have hiked America's entire 1800-mile West Coast Trail (not to be confused with the Pacific Crest Trail or Canada's 45-mile West Coast Trail), doing so on three separate occasions. In 1988 he hiked the 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail in about 1 month, in 1992 the 200-mile Washington Coast Trail section, and in 1996 he tackled the 1,200-mile length of the California Coastal Trail in 3 and a half months. If he completes the Great Northeast Trail as planned, he will have completed a total of about 2,500 miles of the overall 10,000-mile National Coast Trail vision. LePage, age 50, was born about twenty miles east of Boston in Framingham, Massachusetts, and grew up and lived in the area until he headed west as a young man to reside in the Pacific Northwest, his primary residence being Portland, Oregon.

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The National Coast Trail Association, founded in 1994, is a non-profit trail organization whose vision is the National Coast Trail, a 10,000-mile plus interconnected land and water-based trail system around the entire United States. Our mission is "Keeping the Coast for Everyone" through advocacy, education, and action for trails, public access and coastal preservation. Our program includes trail development, education, and conservation. Our focus is the development of the West Coast Trail, comprised of the Washington, Oregon and California Coastal Trails. The "Atlantic to the Great Lakes!" event is a project to promote and publicize the Great Northeast Trail, field research and photograph it, and initiate cooperative relationships with trail organizations, government agencies, and others to develop and maintain relevant trail segments.

The Appalachian Trail Conference is a non-profit organization of individuals and clubs of volunteers dedicated to maintaining, managing, and protecting the Appalachian Trail and its adjacent lands.

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