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News Release

For Release: Monday, July 19th

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

Alexis Jackson, Public Affairs, White Mountain National Forest, 603-528-8724

"Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Event Continues Along Wildcat River Trail to Carter Notch

Hiker continues north along existing roads from North Conway, New Hampshire and up into the White Mountains as the third important linkage of the envisioned 700-mile "Great Northeast Trail"

A special event, the "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Hike and Paddle continues his hike on Thursday, July 29th from the Chamber of Commerce in North Conway, New Hampshire.  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 north along existing roads to the Jackson area to reach the Wildcat River Trail to continue up into the White Mountains.  This trail within the White Mountain National Forest is the third significant link in his journey and will take him to Carter Dome, where he will connect with the Appalachian Trail.  The "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" event is officially registered as a National Trails Day 2004 event with the American Hiking Society.

"Seems it's time to climb some mountains," begins Al LePage, executive director of the National Coast Trail Association, "but 'Old Susannah, on don't you cry for me!  You see, there's a phrase in that old tune that apparently fits well with something that can befall hikers in the White Mountains -- 'the sun so hot I froze to death' -- is how it goes.  Although it seems ridiculous, I'm told it can get downright cold around here, epecially at the higher elevations, even during what starts out as a warm summer day in a valley below.  And then that big 'H' word comes into play, you know, hypothermia!  I'm sure I'll enjoy the cooler tempertures up in the mountains, but I want to hike in and out under my own power.  Cold is a four letter word, but the six letter word 'rescue' is even worse.  But don't worry, I'll be prepared with extra clothing, food, and whatever else I need to keep warm."

The White Mountain National Forest is a special and wonderful place to visit throughout the year.  Nearly 800,000 acres (that's a little larger than Rhode Island!), the Forest covers a landscape ranging from hardwood forests (which provide the spectacular colors of fall foliage) to the largest alpine area (where trees don't grow over 8 feet tall) east of the Rocky Mountains and south of Canada.  The White Mountain National Forest is managed to provide a variety of uses, including recreation, wildlife habitat, timber products and clean water.  There are campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic drives, historic places and plenty of space just to sit back and relax.

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.


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.


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