The Great Divide Trail Association has set several ambitious goals for 2022. This year we will be holding 7 trail building trips on the High Rock Trail (HRT) as we prepare for the official opening ceremony of the HRT on July 22! We are excited to announce the return of the GDTA Signature Trip as one of the HRT trips this summer, offering volunteers a more “luxurious” camp experience with all meals provided and prepared by our onsite chef. We will also be holding one bridge building trip on the Original GDT, one trip to begin restoring the historic Collie Creek Trail, and returning to the Jackpine to finish what we started last year!
We continue to build important relationships with other stewards and decision makers of the lands that the GDT travels through. We held several exciting virtual events already this year, and our first in-person event in the past two years. And we continue working hard behind the scenes to secure robust, diverse revenue streams to support and expand our capacity for operations.
The GDTA is a membership organization built by the support of people like you. Members are the foundation of our organization, so it will come as no surprise that increasing GDTA membership is one of our highest priorities in 2022. A diverse and large membership creates the opportunity for the GDTA to accomplish all of our goals and to show land stewards and decision makers that the GDT is important to many people. Please join us by becoming a member of the GDTA.
Life’s Many Purposes, Situations, and Stages
GDTA members range from teens to those in their 70’s and beyond. Thus, as might be expected, there are a variety of reasons that they have joined the GDTA. Some are volunteers, some are thru-hikers, some are day-trippers, some are equestrians, some hiked the trail many years ago, while some dream about hiking the trail in the future. They come from all walks of life. Undoubtedly, their life goals, purposes, and situations cover a broad spectrum. All stages of life are represented from those just beginning their adulthood to those that are retired. Yet they have all found a reason to join the GDTA.
The GDT embodies a connection to each other and to nature through the passion of hikers, equestrians, volunteers, supporters, and government organizations. Common purpose unites us and creates a community, all pursuing the vision of the GDTA. On the Great Divide, we are all connected by the Trail.
Reasons to Become a GDTA Member
Given the GDTA’s diverse membership, there are a variety of reasons that people choose to join the GDTA. Here are some of the common reasons for becoming a member:
- Canada’s Rocky Mountain wilderness is important to preserve
- Discounts given to members by GDTA corporate supporters
- Gratitude for trail maintenance
- Join trail crews
- Meaningful volunteer work
- Voting status at meetings of members of the GDTA and Eligibility to serve on the GDTA Board of Directors
- To “Pay it Forward”
Canada’s Rocky Mountain Wilderness is Important to Preserve
Canada’s Rocky Mountain wilderness is one of the most beautiful, pristine, and wild places on earth. As time marches on there are fewer and fewer places like this. Thus, preserving it – its animals, plants, rivers, glaciers, ecosystems, and all the rest of its unspoiled wonder, is important beyond words. The GDTA’s mission is about promoting and encouraging the use of the GDT in a manner consistent with the conservation and preservation of the scenic and wilderness value of the Rocky Mountains of Canada. The GDT creates the opportunity for people to experience the beauty and wonder of the Canadian Rockies wilderness without imposing on its natural capital. It inspires them to care about it and work to protect it for generations to come.
The vehicle to accomplish the GDTA’s mission is advocating for preservation of the GDT, and with it preservation of the wildlands that it runs through. This advocating is done through relationships with the stewards and decision makers of these lands – Parks Canada, Alberta Parks, BC Ministry of Forests, Willmore Wilderness Foundation, and others. Realistically, demand, and therefore membership numbers, is a factor in decisions that get made. For example, look at all the frontcountry infrastructure investments being made by Parks Canada (vs backcountry funding). Many, many more people use the frontcountry infrastructure and so that is where more investments are made. The point of all this is that for the GDTA to be most effective in their wildlands preservation efforts, the more GDTA members we have, the more the decision makers see that demand for wildlands preservation is real, and is there, and is important.
Our members believe in the GDTA’s mission to preserve our mountain wilderness. In fact, we have members that have joined the GDTA solely for this reason. One doesn’t need to be a hiker, past hiker, or equestrian to believe in this mission – anyone can. By joining the GDTA, one’s presence in the GDTA’s growing organized and visible community, translates into public demand for wilderness preservation that is recognized by decision makers through the GDTA’s advocacy efforts. In other words there is strength in numbers. Your GDTA membership adds to this strength and so helps preserve the precious Canadian Rocky Mountain wilderness.
In addition to this overriding very important reason to join the GDTA, there are many other very good reasons to become a member. Please read on for a discussion of these other reasons that have attracted our members.
The GDTA has several corporate supporters that are industrious, small businesses whose products and services are all about hikers – gear, lodging, food, resupply, information sources, and memorabilia. Like us, they are outdoors enthusiasts and believe in taking care of and preserving our precious mountains and nature. These supporters believe in the GDTA and its mission to maintain and preserve the wild Canadian Rocky Mountains for future generations. To show their support, they very generously provide discounts to GDTA members.
These discounts are particularly interesting to hikers and are quite often a reason that they join the GDTA.
GDTA Members also get discounted fees for GDTA events, allowing members to connect more easily to the growing Great Divide community.
Gratitude for Trail Maintenance
The GDT can be a rough trail to hike – challenging weather, wildlife, river crossings, long distances between resupplies, infrequently or unmaintained trail, bushwhacking, route finding, and so forth. Well maintained trail can make a huge difference. Each year, dedicated Great Divide Trail Association volunteers head into the woods with picks, shovels, saws and spirit to rebuild washed-out bridges, cut away fallen trees, and restore eroded portions of the trail. We recruit young and old to give time and energy to fix what needs to be fixed from Waterton to Kakwa. GDTA volunteer trail crews devote hundreds of hours to keeping the trail open. It is only with the support of members and volunteers that the Great Divide Trail experience is possible. Many a GDT hiker fondly remembers coming upon cleared trail and sometimes trail crews at work. Here’s an example in the notorious Jackpine River valley.
Out of gratitude for the GDTA’s trail maintenance work, and a desire to support its costs, many GDT hikers become GDTA members to show their thanks.
Join Trail Crews
Additionally, some hikers take their gratitude to the next level by not only joining the GDTA, but also becoming a volunteer trail crew member themselves. However, usually this is not only about gratitude. Camaraderie is another big reason for joining a trail crew. Satisfaction in seeing ones efforts make a difference to the GDT is also meaningful to many. Projects can include building, maintaining and improving trail tread, removing fallen trees, repairing and building trail structures, brushing and clearing vegetation, as well as blazing and signing the trail. Living outdoors and sleeping under the stars in the camps is an attraction. To some extent trail crew trips are “summer camp for adults”.
Meaningful Volunteer Work
The GDTA is volunteer organization. Over 100 volunteers each year not only man the trail building & maintenance crews, but also perform the many other organizational duties. These include advocating for official recognition and protection of the GDT, ensuring financial capacity of the organization, public outreach, engagement and education, events, our website and social media, newsletter articles, the Board and its committees. Thus, all sorts of skills in our GDTA members are appreciated. The GDTA has a lot going on and is an exciting, congenial place to volunteer.
As time in a person’s life frees up, for example in (but not limited to) retirement, many people look for meaningful volunteer work and know of the GDTA. This is a reason to be a GDTA member for several of our members.
Pay it Forward
As one’s life moves forward, if one is fortunate, along the way valuable assistance gives one a boost occasionally. It can be that trail angel that gave you a lift, it can be that relative that gives you a rent free place to live when you are starting out, or someone who loans you something you are in need of, and so on. Later on, if good fortune allows one, you may have an urge to assist someone else in need, and do it. “Pay it forward” as they say.
This urge to repay one’s previous good fortune, to a worthy recipient is another reason some join the GDTA. In the GDTA they see a volunteer group with a mission to preserve, maintain, and advocate for the GDT, so that its mountain wilderness is there for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. And so they become a GDTA member, volunteering and supporting the GDTA, to repay their good fortune of enjoying this mountain wilderness, to the next and future generations.
Patron of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Wilderness Experience
As a GDTA member – hiker, past hiker, equestrian, or none of the above, regardless of your reason(s) for joining the GDTA, you are contributing to the preservation of the Great Divide Trail and its wilderness experience in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (as highlighted above in the first reason to become a member). With your:
- modest membership dues and
- addition to our growing membership community
you are not only a GDTA member but part of something bigger – you are a
Patron of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Wilderness Experience
in the glorious, beautiful, pristine, wild Canadian Rockies. As a patron you are part of a community making a difference to ensure this treasure is there for future generations to come.
We need you! Please consider becoming a member of the Great Divide Trail Association today.
How do you become a member?
We offer three types of membership. Click on one of the links below: