I just got around to reading the Winter 2017 newsletter of Maine Island Trail Association. There is fascinating history in there - stories about its origination in the late 1980’s. But more interesting is that MITA will start adding locations and other information for the stretch east of Machias Bay. They have had a dilemma in this area because the risks ramp up so much - MITA had up to now figured the Trail ended in East Machias.
But they did a survey and came up with two surprises. One was that far more paddlers were using that stretch than they had realized, the other was that people assumed it was part of MITA but simply deficient in information. This lack has had a beneficial result. Because people had to work harder to find out paddling information, they used local resources who also understood the dangers of this area.
At the retreat of the Trail Committee in August it boiled down to the following question - from the newsletter. “…we confronted the realization that, for better or worse, the Bold Coast was already part of the Maine Island Trail.Instead of debating whether we could or should expand the Trail there, we shifted out question… was it better for MITA to provide more or less information about the Bold Coast? … would we be elevating risk or increasing safety by adding sites and expanding the trip planning resources offered in the guidebook and all?”
Stakeholder input was mixed. I bet. And even MITA got a quick lesson when one of their scouting missions had to beat a hasty retreat when the weather completely reversed itself. But they ultimately decided safety was better served by adding resources for this stretch.
They are assembling information and seeking landing points now, how much will be actually in the book for spring of 2018 unknown. But it is an interesting policy debate and ultimately a large change for MITA members in the stretch beyond Machias Bay.