News

The 100 Hikes in 2022 Challenge

Earlier this year, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association president, Frieda Baldwin, launched a Challenge for 2022 to encourage hikers to get out in nature, for their physical and mental health, and to explore new trail locations. Several have taken up the challenge and are posting their sequentially numbered hikes on the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Facebook Group with the hashtag #ghta100hikesin2022. Anyone can participate, and the hike can be anywhere, provided it is at least one hour in duration, and that the name of the trail or location is mentioned, accompanied by one or more nature photos.

Some participants then asked “Do we get a badge for that?”, and the answer is YES! You can order your 100 Hikes in 1 Year badge on the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Merchandise Order Form.

If you have not started counting your hikes, it’s not too late. GHTA Association president Frieda Baldwin completed her 100th hike (in 129 days since January 1), and was the first one to order the 100 Hikes in 1 Year badge. So, who will challenge her?

New Faces on the Executive Team

We have two new additions to our Executive Team – here is a bit of information about them!

Steve Pogue – Secretary

Steve is an outdoor enthusiast and a member of the Wilderness Club. He has a wealth of leadership experience serving as a director of a non-profit corporation and as a municipal councillor. His experience includes board governance, policy, government relations, financial and property management, as well as trail and forest management.

Steve is currently working as a Senior Systems Administrator and thrives on outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, cycling and cross country skiing.

Neil Runnalls – Trail Director/Landowner Relations Director

Neil is a member of the Wilderness Club and past Trail Director for the Wilderness Section. He is also a Certified Hike Leader and is currently leading a group of hikers on an E2E of the entire Ganaraska Hiking Trail. They completed the Pine Ridge and Kawartha sections and are embarking on the Orillia section now.

He is a school principal with the TDSB and has an acreage with horses to look after, and so he is pretty busy, but willing to take on the Trail/Landowner Relations Director job, with the help of the new positions of Signage Coordinator and Mapping Coordinator.

Welcome Steve and Neil to the Executive, and thank you both for your contributions to the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc.

SUMMARY OF APRIL 23, 2022 AGM AND BOARD MEETINGS

by Frieda Baldwin, President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc.

I would like to share with the members of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. the highlights of today’s Annual General Meeting and Board of Directors meetings:

Awards

Stan Muldoon of the Pine Ridge club was awarded the 2022 Volunteer of the Year award for his past involvement on the Executive of the GHTA, as Pine Ridge club President, and for chairing a number of past and current committees. Thankyou Stan!

The Wilderness Club was awarded the 2022 Trail Maintenance award for the completion of the Montgomery Bridge project in the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands…. a project that has been difficult and long in the making… Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with this project!

(Honourable mention in Trail Maintenance went to the Midland Club for the reroute and additional loops to the Tiny section in the Tiny Marsh). 

No-Man Made Structures policy

In the past, in compliance with our “Minimal Impact” trail maintenance standard we were not allowed to build any man-made structures, such as bridges, boardwalks, etc. (other than styles over fences). We have revisited this policy, and with input from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, decided that it is better for the environment (and for our hikers) to allow man-made structures, provided they are approved by the landowner/agency on whose property the trail is located.

Training reimbursement

Effective today, any new enrolment in “hiking related” new training courses (Certified Hike Leader, Wilderness Hike Leader, First Aid, Chainsaw Operation, etc.) will be reimbursed at 50% (not 75% as before) upon completion of the course, with the other 50% being reimbursed once the individual volunteer provides his/her newly learned skills on 3 outings/events. This change is made for budgeting reasons, but also as we have experienced some investment in training, and then some individuals not “showing up for work”. 

Note: I also wanted to thank all members who have recently taken the Certified Hike Leader (graduation is expected to be next weekend) and First Aid courses. Their reimbursement will still be at the 75% + /25% ratio.

Policies 

We have re-affirmed our “No Dogs on Group Outings” policy. 

The GHTA is following provincial Covid guidelines and as such no longer requires “full vaccination” status of hike participants. Clubs are expected to follow these guidelines, however, individual hike leaders do have the option to request that participants are vaccinated, provided this is clearly stated in the hike or outing details prior to the event.

However, we need to remain vigilant and therefore social distancing is still recommended, such as mask wearing if within 2 meters, or when carpooling. 

Elections and Appointments

We are delighted that Steve Pogue (member of the Wilderness Club and Barrie resident) has agreed to take on the Secretary position, following Carol Strickland‘s retirement (she will however continue as President of the Orillia club). Steve comes with a wealth of previous board, policy, by-law experience. Welcome Steve!

Simone Latham is staying on as Treasurer, and I as President of the Association. Unfortunately, we are still looking to fill the position of Vice President.

We were also delighted that we were able to find a replacement for John Sloan, as Trail/Landowner Relations Director (John will stay on the board as a Barrie club rep). However, as this job has mushroomed in the last few years, we felt it necessary to split the role into 3 separate functions:

– Neil Runnalls agreed to take on the Trail/Landowner Relations position. This position is also a member of the Executive team.  Neil will be assisted by: 

– Steve Broomfield as Mapping Coordinator

– Dani Shaw as Signage Coordinator

Thank you to all who have stepped up to these positions, as well as any of you who are volunteering for any other roles at the club and board level.

Finances

Happy to report that our finances are in very good shape, and we have a healthy balance in our bank account. This is mostly due to:

– funds previously set aside to produce a new set of guidebooks (We are no longer producing and inventorying/shipping guidebooks, now that the Trail Guide is downloadable and maps are continually updated as needed)

– we have seen more member donations since we launched the on-line membership renewal process

– we received a $4,500 grant from the County of Simcoe for our mapping projects

Committee reports

We received a very interesting report from the Indigenous Engagement Committee, and expect to hear more from them by the fall Board meeting. 

The Risk Management Committee has developed:

– new Difficulty Rating for hike descriptions (based on Hike Ontario’s difficulty ratings)

– new Trail Maintenance/Audit report (to be done yearly)

– updated Trail Maintenance Guidelines to reflect the revised No Man-made Structures policy

and they are still working on an update to our Risk Management Protocol. More on this to follow in the coming weeks.

The Mapping Committee successfully launched the new Trail Guide, which consists of downloadable and printable maps and trail descriptions, which complement the Ondago mobile device app. The new Trail Guide has been well received and can be found on our website under The Trail / Trail Sections with Maps. The maps will be updated on an as needed basis, so hikers are encouraged to verify the latest issue of the map (the issue date is at the bottom right corner of the new maps) but also verify that there have not been any recent Trail Changes (also posted on the website).

Ganaraska-logoed wear

Carol Strickland is inviting clubs to send in orders for logoed Ganaraska clothing (Sport shirts, caps, toques, jackets, and neck warmers).  This order process will rely on each participating club having their own Order Administrator whowill collect the order details (preferably on a spreadsheet supplied by Carol Strickland) and the payments, send these to Carol, who will then further coordinate with the supplier.  

 She will be sending out a “catalogue” to interested club presidents shortly. 

100 Hikes in 2022

At the beginning of the year, we announced the #ghta100hikesin2022 Challenge on our Ganaraska Hiking Trail Facebook Group. The initial intention was to encourage physical but also mental health while hiking in nature. Individuals are encouraged to post which hike number they are at, the location of the hike and at least 1 scenery photo. The hike has to be at least 1 hour in duration.  Achieving this goal of 100 hikes in 1 year is certainly do-able as several of the participants in this challenge are already over half of their goal, and it is only end of April. We are therefore developing a “100 Hikes in 1 Year badge” which will be made available via the Merchandise Order form on our website. Details to follow. Meanwhile start hiking and post your hikes on https://www.facebook.com/groups/343500412799685 and include the hashtag #ghta100hikesin2022. 

Wilderness Club Award Presentation

This morning in Tudhope Park Orillia the stars aligned (Hike 2 of Wilderness Club in Orillia Section), and Carol Strickland presented the Trails Maintenance Award to the Wilderness Club.  Neil couldn’t be with us today, but accepting for Wilderness was co-leader Dan Myall.  That’s a well-deserved award – hats off to the Wilderness club, especially for that amazing seasonal bridge in QE Wildlands Park.

TRAIL ALERT IN THE COPELAND FOREST!

Oro-Medonte Hiking Trail Section in Copeland Forest.

There has been a water surge in Copeland Forest creating a major washout of a small section of the Oro-Medonte Ganaraska Hiking Trail.  Anyone walking the trail will have to make a short detour to connect to the other section.  Hikers will not be able to walk the trail in the destroyed area near the small pond midway between P1 & P2. 

Volunteer of the Year Award

Some people just keep on giving – and this year we are recognizing Stan Muldoon for being one of those people in the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc. 

Stan has been a member of the Pine Ridge Club for years and has served as its President and representative to the Board.   As well, he chaired the 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee – and during that time he prepared and delivered a history of the organization from its inception, bringing recognition to the founding members.  At the 50th Anniversary celebration, Stan also delivered a workshop on stretching, much appreciated by the attendees! 

Stan joined the Executive as Vice President for a few years as well and more recently has stepped up to Chair the new Mapping Committee, as well as the Indigenous Engagement Committee.

Well done Stan – you are a great example to us all – and we want to show our appreciation by presenting you with the Volunteer of the Year Award for 2022.

Trail Maintenance Award

This year’s Trail Maintenance Award is being presented to the Wilderness Club, under the capable leadership of President Rob Halupka, for their outstanding work to provide a floating bridge over Montgomery Creek.  The process took at least a year, with many club members involved with the project, helping in the planning, design, partnering with Parks Ontario, pivoting when something didn’t work, and generally getting the job done!  Installation was on Aug. 26 under the guidance of the Ontario Parks team, and the bridge was in place until late October when as planned, it was removed for the season.  It served the purpose beautifully and was much enjoyed by many hikers.

Without the bridge it was sometimes impossible to get across Montgomery Creek due to fluctuating water levels, making this section of the trail occasionally unusable. 

Well done, Wilderness club.   That will be a tough one to top!

Ondago Catalog for Ganaraska Trail Sections Updated

Our map names in the Ondago mobile app catalog have been changed to make it easier to see the trail section names and to give each section it’s own map. Previously, our maps in Ondago were listed as follows.

Ganaraska (0 of 8) – End-to-End
Ganaraska (1 of 8) – Pine Ridge
Ganaraska (2 of 8) – Kawartha
Ganaraska (3 of 8) – Wilderness
Ganaraska (4 of 8) – Orillia
Ganaraska (5 of 8) – Barrie
Ganaraska (6 of 8) – Mad River
Ganaraska (7 of 8) – Wasaga Beach , Tiny 
Ganaraska (8 of 8) – Oro-Medonte, Midland 

We removed the Ondago end-to-end map and made Wasaga Beach, Tiny, Oro-Medonte and Midland individual maps rather than having them grouped. The new Ondago catalog of Ganaraska trail maps now looks like this.

Ganaraska – Barrie
Ganaraska – Kawartha
Ganaraska – Mad River
Ganaraska – Midland
Ganaraska – Orillia
Ganaraska – Oro-Medonte
Ganaraska – Pine Ridge
Ganaraska – Tiny
Ganaraska – Wasaga Beach
Ganaraska – Wilderness

Previously downloaded maps will still work, but over time you will want to update your downloaded Ondago maps to the latest versions. Enjoy the trails!

The New and Improved Trail Guide

This is very exciting news! History in the making!

The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. is extremely pleased to announce the launch of a new Trail Guide that will complement our Ondago mobile app maps of our beloved Ganaraska Hiking Trail. The last edition of our hard copy trail maps was in 2013 and included only some minor revisions of the original 2006 edition.

Our new maps offer much more detail and are a far cry from what used to be just a “red line on a map”. A lot of effort has gone into the production of these new maps, and we are very pleased with the outcome.

Our new Trail Guide, with downloadable and printable maps and trail descriptions, has now been posted on our www.ganaraska-hiking-trail.org website. You might remember that early in the project (December 2020) a survey was sent out to Ganaraska and other hiking group members asking questions about what they wanted to see in the new ‘Guidebook’. The key points in the feedback that were used to steer the work in this project were:

  1. Maintain the format of providing maps accompanied by a detailed trail description (similar to the 2013 Guidebook). 
  2. Provide hikers with the option of either a printed map or a mobile device map application.
  3. Make sure the maps have sufficient detail to be useable as a navigation tool in the field (sufficient contour detail, road and building detail, compass angle of declination detail, etc.).

Internally we also decided that we no longer wanted to inventory map books and ship them as required, so we opted for FREE downloadable/printable maps. In addition, all the key points of feedback from the survey were implemented, and our new Trail Guide combined with our Ondago mobile device app provides hikers of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail with the information they need, in whichever format they choose, to learn about and enjoy the approximately 500 km long Ganaraska Hiking Trail from end to end.

The new Trail Guide maps consist of a series of 33 maps plus an index map, as well as written Trail Descriptions (with latitude and longitude coordinates) of each of the 9 club sections of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail. All maps and descriptions can be downloaded for free and are printable. Our website also contains information on how to navigate the trail and the maps. See The Trail/Trail Sections with Maps for the maps and descriptions, organized by club.

We were very pleased with the work of our cartographer, Lyle Wood of Barrie (wood_lyle@hotmail.com) and my personal thanks go to Stan Muldoon, John Sloan, Gary Norton, Steve Broomfield, Heather Briant and a number of other people that have been involved in the making of this new Trail Guide.

Happy hiking!

Frieda Baldwin

President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.

Covid-19 Protocol Update Mar. 11, 2022

Effective immediately, our Covid protocol changes as follows:
Vaccines are no longer mandated;
Hikes are available to non-members, with the requirement that they complete the GHTA Inc. waiver every time they hike.

Covid is still present and still a possible threat, albeit less life-threatening than 2 years ago – so if someone is not well, it is expected that they will not attend a hike.