Covid-19 Update

As you know the Simcoe/Muskoka District Health Unit, in which most of our trail and our clubs are located, is going into GREY/LOCKDOWN as of Monday March 1, 2021, which means that

·        Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people with physical distancing in place

For the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, this means that the maximum number of hikers in a group must be limited to 10. For clarity, the maximum number of  participants congregating at the same time in the same place is 10, and if two groups wish to go on the same route, they must assemble at least 30 minutes apart from each other.

In addition, the following measure applies for Grey–Lockdown:

·        Trips outside of the home should only be for essential reasons (… or exercise and physical activity)

Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association’s executive therefore recommends that travel to hikes be limited to within your municipality/region.  We are counting on our members to be responsible, keep travel for hiking to a minimum and stay close to home during the provincial stay-at-home order.

Travel between Covid 19 zones must be avoided, and carpooling is not allowed. 

Thank you for your cooperation. Stay safe.
Frieda BaldwinPresident, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Associaton Inc. 

Covid-19 Update

Covid Update Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. – Feb. 13, 2021

On Feb. 16, 2021, the health unit regions through which the Ganaraska Hiking Trail runs, and where their clubs are located, will return to colour code Orange (Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes and Pine Ridge), or Red (Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit). This allows a return to group hikes! (albeit still for members only).

With that change, outdoor gatherings will have the restrictions lessened, allowing up to 25 participants. However, your Executive discussed this at a recent meeting, and recommends that hike groups be restricted to 10. This allows for better adherence to social
distancing. Pre-registration is still required, including name and contact

information of participants. If practical, we are also suggesting that Emergency Contact information (name of person to be contacted in the event of an emergency and their telephone number) be collected at the time of registration.

Covid protocols are still in place – stay at home if you are feeling unwell (don’t join a group hike), wear a mask when gathering at the trailhead, or when you can’t maintain social distance, keep a distance of at least 6 feet (2 m) between yourself and others, and get 6 feet off the trail when meeting oncoming or passing hikers/bikers.

With regard to travel – stay within your health unit region, and try to limit your distance to within 20 – 30 minutes’ drive. Unfortunately members living or working in grey-lockdown zone are still not allowed to join us on any group hikes.

Fingers crossed that restrictions will ease in time, but that is for the future. In the meantime, stay safe, and enjoy the great outdoors.

Frieda Baldwin, President,
Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc. 705-245-1005

New Covid Restrictions Update

With the new Covid 19 restrictions for Ontario, which include a max of 5 for outdoor gatherings, the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. is herewith suspending all group hikes until further notice, effective Jan. 14, 2021.  The work involved in planning multiple hikes for small groups is just too complex to organize. A lot of work goes into planning a hike, sending the announcements, pre-registrations, documenting attendees for contact tracing, etc.  In addition, we are encouraged to STAY HOME, except for essential travel and exercise. We encourage you to still go out for exercise, locally, with your household members, or a small group of hiking friends, of course observing Covid protocols.  Over the years, we have shown you the great places to hike, ski or snowshoe, many of them close to your home.  So go and enjoy what winter has to offer, but do it on your own or in small groups.
Stay safe, and happy hiking.
Frieda Baldwin, President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. Ph 705-245-1005

New Covid Restrictions

Following the new Covid restrictions, issued by the Ontario Government yesterday, which are effective Dec 26, 2020, we must limit our group hikes to 10 individuals, at least until January 24, 2021. Actually, we have confirmation from our local health unit that we can “gather” for hikes in parks, at trail heads, etc. as long as we adhere to public health measures (2 m social distancing, masking as needed), and stay within our own communities. 
Carpooling is as expected still not allowed (unless with members of your own household).  Note: there is no longer a reference in the regulations about carpooling with members of your social circle/bubble. Travelling is only allowed with members of your own household.
Also, while parks and trails remain open, we may see partial closings of some sections of our trail, especially any through “seasonal campgrounds”, which are closed to members of the general public. Example: through the New Lowell camp ground. 
Hopefully we will soon be able to return to a regular hiking program, but for now, as per above, groups have a limit of 10 participants. We do encourage you, however, to hike or walk on your own, or with members of your family, and enjoy our great outdoors.
Meanwhile, the Executive of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. wishes all our members a very merry Christmas, and lots of great hiking in 2021.
Frieda Baldwin President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.
Ph 705-245-1005

Ganaraska Hiking Club Covid-19 update

“As of Monday December 14, 2020 several of our Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association clubs will be going into a Covid-19 Red Zone: Midland, Oro Medonte, Barrie, Orillia, Mad River and Wasaga Beach. (Wilderness, Kawartha and Pine Ridge remain in Yellow).
While the Red Zone restrictions mainly focus on indoor establishments, the outdoor gathering number in a Red Zone remains at 25 people, but non-essential travel other than for exercise is restricted. 
Therefore, Ganaraska Hiking Trail clubs in any zone may still schedule group hikes in their zone, but should not allow attendance by residents of – or people who work in – higher zones than their own, e.g.  members from a Lockdown zone (Grey Zone) should not attend group hikes in a Red Zone, or members from a Red Zone should not attend group hikes in a Yellow or Green Zone.
We also discourage individual members from crossing into other public health regions, and ask everyone to continue following public health restrictions/guidelines, such as social distancing, mask wearing if within 2 m, and also no carpooling (unless with people from your own bubble).  
Thank you for your cooperation.

Frieda Baldwin, President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. 

GHTA Inc. Covid-19 Protocol and Tips – Sept. 20, 2020

The following policy statement was issued to the membership at the end of September. For convenience, and to assist members, potential, new and “old”, it is presented below. Please note the Nov. 14, 2020 update post “New Public Health Restrictions”, which of course applies to participants from Red and Grey Zones.

 Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. 

Sept. 20, 2020 Covid-19 Protocol and Tips

Covid-19 continues to challenge us all, but matters have evolved since our last edition of Protocol and Tips.

Group Size:  the province currently restricts to 25 persons outdoors, but as a practical matter, some hikes may be restricted to fewer than 10 – 15 hikers to permit social distancing and in view of parking availability and in consideration of other users of the trails.

Carpooling:  still not permitted except for persons in a bubble.  

Social Distance:  a distance of 2 meters must be maintained between hikers at all times (except those bubbled).  This means that hikers behind another hiker should take responsibility for keeping that 2 meters distance – and if necessary, slow down, stop, or back up; also, if hikers meet others coming towards them on foot or bike, or attempting to pass them, they should step off the trail by 2 meters,   If enjoying a break/lunch etc.  be off the trail by 2 meters.

Masks:  it is recommended to carry a mask, but mostly won’t be needed on the trail, unless aiding another hiker at closer than two meters.

First Aid Kit:  Hikers should carry their own basic first aid materials, such as bandaids, tick removers, etc.

Parking:  Hikers should not park in front of any gates, on private lawns, or blocking farm machinery or other vehicles from accessing the area.  If you arrive at a parking lot that is full, go somewhere else.

Hike destinations:  Choose where and when to go.  It’s best if we don’t all go to the most popular trailheads or parks at the most popular times of day.  Planning 2 hikes on the same day, each of smaller size, may be useful – especially if pre-registration is used.  Given carpooling restrictions and climate change, staying local for the most part makes sense.  

Waivers:  The matter of waivers is under reconsideration at the moment, and Clubs are following a variety of practices.  If and when signing waivers, consider having hand sanitizer available for participants to wash their hands after handling pen and clipboard.  Whatever local Clubs are doing about waivers, hike leaders should keep a list of hikers who attend a hike (with their phone numbers), for a month, so that contact tracing can be provided to public health personnel should the need arise because someone in a hike tests positive for Covid, or is a close contact of a case.

Be considerate of other hikers:  do what you can to promote a peaceful and enjoyable experience for all in the forest.  Put your cell phones on vibrate, and unless it is an emergency, refrain from talking on the phone while hiking.  If you are feeling unwell, Covid or not, stay home.  

Above all – enjoy yourselves.  We are lucky to be able to go out and hike safely!

New Public Health Restrictions

Unfortunately at this time due to a worsening Covid-19 situation, the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.  cannot allow Red Zone residents or people who work in a Red Zone (currently Toronto, York, and Peel Health Regions) to join our scheduled group hikes.  This is primarily to comply with their own local requirements to “stay home” and in the interest of protecting the safety of our other members.  We hope that this situation will not last for long, and we regret having what we feel is an obligation to impose this restriction.
This is a fluid situation, other Public Health regions may restrict movement in their areas as well. Stay informed about your local conditions and act accordingly. 
Members from these restricted red zones are however encouraged to exercise locally. 
Frieda Baldwin President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.