Marion Brophy, Past President of the Orillia Club, carries the relay water bottle during a Wednesday evening hike. Hikers paused in front of Lake Couchiching where the Ganaraska Trail heads east from the waterfront trail. Nearing the final destination at the 50th Anniversary celebrations at Lakehead University on Sept. 29!
We have just received confirmation that Simcoe County Forestry plans to conduct a controlled burn on Wednesday, September 19 behind the Simcoe County Museum. The Barrie trail is not affected but it runs right adjacent to the burn area so we should consider this to be a ‘no hiking zone’ for the next few days. There will be a second day of burning at a date to-be-determined. FINAL – Museum Controlled Burn Area Map
The idea of hiking the Ganaraska Hiking Trail came on the heels of completing the 900Km Bruce Trail in September 2017. What were we going to do next? My long time friend and hiking partner Wendy Manning and I were enthusiastic to begin a new challenge together and made a plan during the winter of 2017/18 to hike one one of the most popular trails in England, the Coast to Coast Path, a 305Km epic adventure which we would complete in 12 days in May 2018. The GHT fit right in with our plans, offering a not only new challenge but a commitment to hiking as much as we could ahead of our trip. Being that it was also the 50th anniversary of the GHTA, it also made for a significant achievement to undertake.
With member, guidebook, and maps in hand, we exuberantly began in Port Hope on March 3, 2018. Pine Ridge was interesting with it’s rolling hills and unique landmarks; the rail trail through Kawartha took us through the towns of Lindsay and Fenelon Falls, along its scenic lakes and streams, very picturesque, but the cool north wind chill and wintery conditions well into April made for challenging hikes. We ran into some trouble in the final section of Kawartha though, painstakingly trudging through very deep snow and had to bushwhack around impassable water crossings in the north end of Corben Lake to get back to the trail; one of many exhausting hikes!
Ahead of our trip to England in May we successfully completed 198Km of the trail, including two of the three hikes in the Wilderness section, but due to the water levels, the crossover would have to wait until we returned.
We planned to hike the Wilderness crossover in one day. There was little support for this giving the distance, and most people would backpack over a few days. Yet we were determined. We cancelled twice due to conditions, but finally got the opportunity on June 23rd. The beaver dams were all passable, as water levels had dropped, but blazes were almost impossible to spot in places, completed shrouded in growth; as was the trail, overgrown with ferns above our heads and thorny shrubs that left our legs shredded and bloodied. The going was slow, stopping often to consult the maps; each time I removed my head netting, the insects would attack with a vengeance. It took 13.5 hours to hike from Devil’s Lake to Victoria Bridge. Our nerves were rattled, and our minds to the point of breaking, but we did it! We got through the most difficult hike ever!
By mid July we were back on the trail again, having a renewed interest in continuing now that the worse was over, or so we thought. We took advantage of the two hike weekends by camping: Bass Lake PP, for the Orillia section, Awenda for the Oro-Medonte/Midland/Tiny sections. Over Labour Day weekend we took a cottage for the Wasaga section. We still had the insects to contend with, but we also started notice an abundant varieties of interesting mushrooms in the Simcoe Country Forest Tracts. In mid-August we coined our hike of the Tiny section a “Hike with Monarchs”, such a joy to have them fluttering everywhere around us!
Every hike had its challenges: a lot of bushwhacking in very rough terrain and high grasses; heat and humidity that zapped our energy; navigating around countless fallen trees; and of course finding blazes to keep us on course. But with every challenge there were numerous surprises too, always an element of discovery: interesting landmarks, historical areas, beautiful scenery, and quaint communities.
Our final weekend of the GHT on September 8 and 9 proved no less of a challenge. We had 57.3Km to cover to get to the Western Cairn. The last section of Barrie had us crossing a vast section of high grasses for over a kilometer with very difficult to spot blazes. We eventually reached the forest, and to our excitement we finally find our very first Giant Puffball mushroom. The reward was a total thrill. The Mad River section followed a disused rail bed for 10K to New Lowell, interesting at first as it crossed both the Nottawasaga and the Mad Rivers. But it was so overgrown and challenging, we had to continually divert to road to get through it. But then at the end, we discovered a beautiful little trailer park (with facilities!) in New Lowell that brightened our spirits.
On the final day we ambled through the very scenic town of Creemore, stopping at a café, visiting Canada’s smallest Jail, and admiring a beautiful church; delightful! We knew the challenge was not over. After climbing the 400m Ten Hill with its spectacular views, we descended to an un-blazed field on Concession 6 S. We had to find our way to a tree-line, crossing a creek hidden by the high grasses; it was tasking and slow but we eventually found a place to cross the creek and head to the trees, fallen trees, everywhere. The challenges just kept coming. We did manage to find the blazes and continued through the forest. We would lose the trail once more in this final 5K stretch, but we found our way to Glen Huron, with only the victory climb up McKinney’s Hill to the Western Cairn. We made it! We popped open the champagne, sat on the Cairn and celebrated! We fought this challenge with courage and zest right to the end. There’s no reward better the feeling of accomplishment that comes with having worked through some really tough challenges.
507Km, 18 hikes! An extraordinary journey!
Wednesday evening hike tonight is cancelled due to the extreme heat and humidity.
Temporary Re-Route of Main Ganaraska Hiking Trail Orillia Section
At Km 61.6 of the Orillia Section of the GHT (Map 19, Guidebook 2013 edition) there is a temporary re-route to bypass an area of logging where the main trail normally runs. This is on Line 8 North, Oro-Medonte, and from where the main trail normally crosses the road and enters the forest, (heading west), the re-route heads north along Line 8 for .41 km, at which point it turns west along a well worn old blue side trail. The blue blazes are still visible, but faded. The path is well defined, and there are virtually no other trails that intersect with this blue side trail. At .21 km (44.54502, -79.57245) from Line 8, the blue trail ends at the main trail, and heads north (turn right).
If you are coming the other way, you will see the main trail T-intersect with a trail which is the blue side trail to the left, or the main trail to the right. At this point (same co-ordinates as above) there is a narrow stake with white blazes indicating a turn to the right (west) (if coming from the north), but instead turn to the left and follow the blue side trail the .21 km to Line 8. Then follow Line 8 for .41 km south, and re-join the main trail as it crosses Line 8 and proceeds east along private land (there is a sign).
As of today, Aug. 25, 2018, we expect this temporary re-route to be in place until the logging is finished in this area – in approximately 3-5 weeks.
The Simcoe County Forest requests that you do not enter the “no entry” areas even on weekends due to possible hazards remaining from logging earlier in the week.
The October 20 and 27 hikes will be switched, so that now Barb will lead the hike to the Bracebridge area on October 20, and Fern will lead the hike to Hardy Lake on Oct. 27.
The GHTA 50th anniversary year winds up with a weekend of hikes, workshops, courses, and celebrations in September. These events are being held in conjunction with the Hike Ontario Summit, an annual gathering of representatives from Hiking Clubs around the province. The planning committee is excited to offer this opportunity for GHTA Members to meet other hikers, learn some new skills and celebrate our 50th anniversary together.
An outline of the program is provided below. Pre-registration will help us with the planning. (See bottom for registration links) Come for all or part of the weekend. For more information, contact your Club President or any of the GHTA Executive or Board Members.
Friday Night Pub Night – September 28, 2018
Location: Sam Browne room at Kelsey’s, 405 Memorial Avenue, Orillia. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Order from the a la carte menu; everyone responsible for their own food and drinks.
Saturday: September 29 – Hike Ontario Summit & AGM / Ganaraska Anniversary Celebration
LOCATION: Lakehead University – Orillia Campus
500 University Avenue, Orillia, ON L3V 0B9
The price of admission is $25 and includes access to the Hike Ontario AGM, Summit and GHTA Celebrations, Workshops & Presentations, morning and afternoon refreshments and a catered lunch.
8:00 – 8:30: Registration
8:30 – 9:30: Hike Ontario AGM
9:30 – 10:00: Welcome
10:00 – 10:30: Early History of the GHTA
10:30 – 11:30: Keynote Address – Wilderness Survival by Kevin Callan
11:30 – 12:30: Ceremonial Water Relay Hike
12:30 – 1:00: Recognition of Indigenous Lands and Water Ceremony
1:00 – 2:00: Lunch
(2:15 – 3:00 pm)
Choose one of:
1) Trail Association Strengths and Challenges
An opportunity for Trail Associations to share their strengths, successes, challenges and questions. A bring and take away session for board members and trail activists. Moderated by Bill Mungall.
2) Risk Management Controls for Hike Leaders
Methods to proactively manage risks for Hike Leaders through training, backpack preparation, hike route selection, advertising the hike, vetting the hikers, choosing routes, etc. Moderated by Tom Friesen.
3) Lyme Disease
Latest research on Lyme Disease, causes and prevention, detection and treatment.
(3:15 – 4:00 pm)
Choose one of:
4) “Fascinating Fungi: The Fundamentals”
Presented by local naturalist David Hawke, this indoor session will explore the roles that mushrooms, toadstools, slime moulds and other icky things perform within our ecosystem. Please note that this is not a “Can I eat it?” presentation (although poisonous mushrooms will be mentioned).
5) Stretching in Bed for Health and Wellness
This active workshop highlights a series of easy stretches that hikers and others can use to ease muscle soreness and restore flexibility. And, the best news is, they can be done in the comfort of your own bed. Bring along a mat and pillow if possible. Presenter: Stan Muldoon
6) Introduction to the use of a Map, Compass and GPS
A brief summary of map reading, compass and GPS use for Hike Leaders. Note: this session will go until 4:15 pm.
6:00: Dinner at a pre-arranged location. (Participants order a la carte and pay for their own dinner). (See registration form for Summit)
Sunday September 30, 2018
Various hikes at the Copeland Forest, hosted by the Barrie and Oro Medonte Hiking Clubs.
For GHTA Members only, choice of
• Safe Hiker Course
• Certified Hike Leader Course
Comfort Inn (Orillia) offers nightly room for $145, including a hot buffet breakfast. The Comfort Inn is within easy walking distance of the Sam Browne room and, on the corner of Hwy. 12, easy access to Lakehead University, Orillia.
75 Progress Drive, Orillia ON L3V 6H1
There are also several provincial parks nearby (Mara, McRae, Bass Lake), as well as B&B’s, AirBnB, and other hotels and campgrounds
To register for the Summit, or either of the 2 Sunday courses, paste the links below into your browser:
SAFE HIKER PROGRAM: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/safe-hiker-program-093018-orillia-tickets-47710992864
CERTIFIED HIKE LEADER: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/certified-hike-leader-093018-orillia-tickets-47711198479
Note: For Ganaraska members, the courses are subsidized. Members pay $25 in the end – but pay $60 up front at the time of registration. They will receive a partial refund cheque in the amount of $35 on the day of the course. For the Certified Hike Leader course, qualifying participants will also be re-imbursed the $25 upon leading 3 hikes for a Ganarska club.
Please be advised that the western end of the Tiny section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail is currently closed from just west of Crossland Road to Archer Road.
Archer Road is the northern most street on the Wasaga Beach section. A landowner is no longer allowing us permission to use his property, so we are currently looking (and may have found) a reroute that may open later this year.
In the mean time, going east from Archer Road on the Tiny section of the Ganaraska is impossible. So your best option is to pick up the trail again from about 1 km west of Crossland Road on the Tiny Townline. You will see that the road dead ends at a farm. A forest track continues, but that leads to the closed section. Park near the farm on the side of the road and hike east towards the Tiny Marsh along the Townline until further notice.
At this time of the year, weeds may grow tall on the Ganaraska Hiking Trail. It is difficult to keep up with the maintenance, but today, we gave it our best, and cut weeds on a section of the Midland Ganaraska Hiking Trail. We attacked the weeds with whipper snippers, but really love working with scythes. This old-fashioned “jack the ripper” tool is light, and ergonomically designed. As such, volunteers can work with it for hours, without tiring. We also trimmed branches that were obscuring the blazes.
Trail users should be reminded that the maintenance standards of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail are considered “minimal impact” to the environment, which means that we just clear enough to make the path and the blazes visible. And that is even a daunting task, but here are some pics of today’s effort, that show one of the teams at work and at rest.
A few days ago, members of the Midland Hiking Club of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail carried the ceremonial water bottle, with water from Georgian Bay, over part of the Tiny section of the Ganaraska Trail. They rode their bike along the Tiny Trail, and through the Tiny Marsh. Other than a flat tire… it was a great ride. On August 2, 5 and 11, the water relay continues along the Midland section of the Ganaraska Trail, before it is handed over to the Oro-Medonte club. The water bottle, as well as one coming from Port Hope, with water from Lake Ontario, is expected to arrive in Orillia, at the Lakehead University Campus for the Ganaraska’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations. Adi the water carrier Jaz the water carrier (and flat tire repairer) Water carrier Linda (who also helped source the sashes for the water bottles) Water carriers from the Midland Hiking Club Association president Frieda, also a water carrier.