ANTIGONISH COUNTY, N.S. - An Antigonish County trail building enthusiast was recently chosen as Trail Builder of the Year, by the Nova Scotia Trails Federation.
Fran Wyman, a member of the Pictou County Trails Association as well as an active member of the Cape to Cape Trails Committee, humbly admitted to being “kind of embarrassed” by the solo recognition because she sees herself as just part of dedicated teams.
“There are some things I do myself but, mostly, it’s with other people,” Wyman said, noting there was a presentation ceremony during the federation’s annual general meeting last month, but she unable to attend due to a prior commitment.
“Community building; when it has been a number of people working together on something, it’s always fun that way.”
Amongst Wyman’s work which was recognized, the list includes; serving on the association’s executive for more than 10 years, maintain the committee’s website and being “instrumental” in establishing and administering the Trails of Tomorrow Fund, serving on the HikeNS board and presenting at hiking summits.
“She became the catalyst that led to our many successes and is very active in all aspects of trail development,” Cape to Cape Trails committee chair Gordon Young, who nominated Wyman, said.
“Her quiet, sincere determination has been an inspiration to all of us and has led to our current strong organization.”
Wyman, who became involved in trail building following her retirement from the teaching profession a dozen years ago, said it starts with her love of the woods.
“And to have trails that arrive at a vista – a beautiful view – is really important,” she said.
“I really feel that we all need to be spending a lot more time outdoors; that is part of my whole effort, to bring more people to those places, make it easier for them.”
In talking about a challenge when it comes to trail building, Wyman commented on trying to encourage landowners to allow part of their property to be used.
“Permission to cross people’s land; a foot path is not intrusive, really,” she said. “Especially if the landowner could agree to some place that was far enough from their house they wouldn’t be bothered by people trekking through.”
She said it’s unfortunate people seem to be suspicious of strangers.
“For some reason, they think people would leave the hiking trail and vandalize some part of their property but, really, hikers don’t know the area themselves,” she said. “They’re going to see something new and all they want to do is stick to that trail because it’s their lifeline to get back out of the woods.”
In talking an Antigonish County trail she worked on, Wyman noted the Cape George Heritage Trail.
“A few years ago, Garnet McLaughlin led a group of us, a large group of volunteers, to reroute parts of that trail which had eroded,” she said. “I was definitely part of that working group and I’ve hiked that trail many times.”
Also noted amongst Wyman’s achievement was the establishment of the Ladies Trail Building Weekend which is now 10 years old. Wyman was happy to talk more about the event which takes place in October every year.
“We work on various parts of the trail; the Cape to Cape Trail or if there is any other trail system which needs our work, we’ll travel there,” she said, noting if people are interested in getting involved, they should check out the Cape to Cape Trail website or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s just ladies and I think we approach trail building a little differently than the guys, maybe a bit more manicured than the men,” she said, with a small chuckle.
“They like to rough it out and keep on going, let the finished work to come later; whereas the ladies like to have it looking really good when they’re finished. A bit more finished work right at the time we’re building it.”