FKT: Chantal Demers - Ganaraska Trail (Canada, ON) - 2020-06-06

Route variation
Standard Point-Point
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
5d 10h 30m 0s
GPS track(s)

This trail is not for the faint of heart. It has great potential, however, there are many sections that are not well maintained. Navigational skills and patience is a must when tackling certain sections of this trail system.

Where to begin?! I picked June 1st to start in hopes that the vegetation/overgrowth and bugs wouldn't be too bad. I also hoped the nights would be too cold, and the days too hot. I think I nailed it! Oh and also, the entire trail is open again!

I started the run in Glen Huron and ended in Port Hope. The weather was pretty perfect. It only rained 2 hrs on my second day, however it was pretty hot on 2 other days.

June 1st - Started at 1130AM - Mad River Section
No issues. There was a little navigational challenge part way through the day, but nothing too worrying. Parts of the Mad River section aren't particularly well maintained, so a little bushwhacking was required. My feet were wet in the first 45 min of my journey. I stopped in Town of Angus for a slushy and pizza and then continued my run to finish the section off right at dusk. I set up camp in a perfect little spot by a river and was tucked into my bivy at a reasonable time. I saw 6 deer this day!
Day’s total: 55km > Accumulated Distance: 55km

June 2nd - Started at 5:00AM - Barrie/Orillia Sections
I completed the entire Barrie Section and part of the Orillia Section today. Nothing too eventful happened on this run. I saw a huge owl and that was pretty cool! Otherwise, I just enjoyed the silence and was present in my adventure. I hit my first cache mid-morning, and a grocery store as well. I ended the day in Orillia, and opted for a hotel room that was 250m off of the trail. (I don't like camping near city limits for some reason). I scarfed down some more pizza and enjoyed a nice shower.
Day’s total: 78km > Accumulated Distance: 133km

June 3rd - Started at 5:06AM - Orilla/Wildness Sections
I made my way through Orillia and followed the backcountry roads to the Wilderness area. The Wilderness Section is where things get real!! This was my 3rd time in the Wilderness Section, so I knew exactly what to expect. I washed up at Victoria Falls and hiked in 10km before setting up camp for the night. I found a cute little spot, however the beaver that was camped out there before me wasn’t too happy with my presence. He kept smacking his tail on the water trying to intimidate me.
Day’s total: 69km > Accumulated Distance: 202km

June 4th - Started at 5:57AM - Wilderness Section
So, pretty much the entire Wilderness Section is either bushwhacking or crossing over beaver dams. It’s overgrown, rugged and not maintained. It lives up to its “wilderness” name. If you travel 3km/hr on this trail, you are flying. It’s impossible to keep your feet dry. It’s difficult to navigate as the markers are often covered by foliage, or on the ground. I was happy with the ONDAGO app (I didn’t have that luxury the other 2 times I’ve gone through this section). I saw one baby cub (no mama bear - thankfully), 2 dear, 1 moose, beavers, snakes and turtles. Oh and dozens of ticks!!! I kept myself covered from head to toe, but a couple of those little buggers still found their way on my skin. Blah!! It took me approx. 11hrs to cover the remaining 35km of the Wilderness. I resupplied from my cache at the end of it, and walked into the village of Moore’s Falls to clean myself off at the river. A nice couple let me use their electricity to recharge my devices. I finished my day with a 5km run on a cottage road and camped in a field before the next swampy section. (The last thing I wanted was to get stuck in a swamp in the dark and have nowhere to set up camp.)
Day’s total: 40km > Accumulated Distance: 242km

June 5th - Start at 6:08AM - Kawartha Section
Oops, I reset my alarm clock part way through the night and slept in this morning. Into the swamp I go. Another hard 20km of poorly maintained trails and wet feet. I did see a moose and their baby calf though. That was pretty fantastic! My pace picked up after the swamp and I was able to run again. I asked a nice gentleman doing yard work for some water prior to Fenelon Falls. Thank you mister! It was a hot day today!! I pushed on to the city of Lindsay for another stay in a hotel room. Called a cab to take me from the trail to the hotel room. The same driver drove me back the very next morning. My favorite part of today was Cameron Lake and Fenelon Falls. I chilled out for a bit at both of those locations. I even had a power nap at the beach.
Day’s total: 65km > Accumulated Distance: 307km

June 6th - Start at 5:41AM - Pine Ridge Section night’s sleep was a bust. The room next to me had their TV on all night and kept me awake. Boo them! Back to the trail for the last push. Feeling wonderful the entire project, today was the day where that all changed. This section had quite a bit of road and my feet were definitely not happy about that! Honestly, I struggle so much with roads and today was no exception. With 13km left to go, I finally broke down and cried for 35min straight. I mean, the ugly kind of crying. I can’t imagine what drivers must have been thinking when they drove by. I do find it’s funny that I thrive in the rough backcountry conditions, and yet the road will bring me to a halt...all of the while crying like a blubbery baby! I need to fix that somehow. Silly feet!! I gritted my teeth and pushed on to finish in the dark via handheld light. With my amazing boyfriend waiting for me at the cairn, I hugged that thing tightly and took a few photos to capture the moment.
Day’s total: 80km > Accumulated Distance: 387km

I will quote my friend Cynthia: this FKT took “strength, perseverance, patience, knowledge, preparation, and true grit!!”. I’m super proud of myself on this one!!!!

Finishing Time: 5 days, 10 hrs and 30 min

Pertinent Gear: Altra Timps, UD Fastpackher30, UD Bivy and shelter, BeFree Bottles, inReach Mini, 4 caches (Barrie, Orillia, Wilderness, Kawartha).