MTA El Camino

Hello!  

We’re back!


Registration is now closed. 


Updates since Aug 1:

  • Supper on Saturday Sept 24 will not be an organized event as it has been in the past. Pavilion #2 at the beach will be reserved for Camino participants and volunteers from 5-8pm. Get some take-out, or bring some leftovers from home and join us to watch the sunset over the lake.  And, parking is free after 5pm.
  • Parking at the Waterfront:  If you’re hiking on Sunday, be advised that it’s now required to pay for parking. Goderich residents can get a seasonal exemption by registering online but it may take a few days to process.  Non-residents can pay for a permit online.  More info on the Town website.  If you don’t want to pay for parking, consider carpooling and sharing the cost, or park in town at the top of the bluff; there are several staircases down to the boardwalk.
  • Parking at Benmiller Community Hall (BCH) on Saturday is tight…. please consider carpooling.
  • A Hikers Info package will be emailed to all registered hikers about Sept 10. It’ll have a summary of the weekend’s important times, places, reminders, etc.

ALL ABOUT CAMINO 2022:

This year’s 2-day hike along the entire Maitland Trail will take place over the weekend of September 24-25, 2022. 

Here is a preliminary Google Earth zipped file of the Camino route and important locations for the weekend. This will be downloaded to your computer where you can unzip it, double-click, and it will open in Google Earth if you have it installed on your computer. 

THE HIKE:

The Camino will follow the entire 51.6 km of the Maitland Trail from the trail head near Auburn to Goderich.  With the camino detours, this weekend hike is now almost 52.6km!   The Trail follows the beautiful, winding route of the lower Maitland River, and includes areas of ecological significance.  You’ll traverse narrow trails, wide rambling trails, hills both up and down, through forests, past farmland, river vistas, autumn meadows, towering forests.  You may see wildlife – toads, salamanders, snakes; ravens, robins and eagles. 

You’ll also pass in and out of tornado-damaged areas; the forest is recovering, and after 11 years, you’ll see forest succession in action with fall wildflowers and grasses in full competition with young maples, oaks, and beech trees.

Our trail is beautifully natural.  That means that you’re also likely to encounter bees, wasps, spiders, and other prickly stingy things, and possibly rain. Be prepared for a fun adventure.

The Longest Hike is now 52.6km with a few short Camino detours, and some changes to the trail. 
The Long Hikes are less than the full 52.6km but they are not short.
You’ll choose the length you want to hike when you register.

Whichever length you choose, your days will look like this:  
On Saturday morning, you’ll check in at the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH), then shuttle to your start point to begin your hike back to the BCH.  When you’re finished hiking for the day, check out at BCH, so we know you’re safely off the trail. 
On Sunday morning you’ll check in at the beach pavilion in Goderich, then shuttle to your start point to begin your hike back to Goderich.

Along the route there will be check points where water and snacks will be provided.  The snacks available won’t provide enough fuel for your hike;  make sure you bring enough food to meet your needs for the day.  Check points will also have basic first aid equipment.  If you must cut your hike short, you can be shuttled back to your car.  The best part about the check points are the friendly faces who provide sincere encouragement, and have genuine interest in how the hike is going for you.  They’re all volunteers who make this event possible.  Awesome!

SCHEDULE:

Saturday – Auburn to Benmiller
6:15 – 8am:  Longest Hike participants check in at BCH.  Shuttle to the trail head near Auburn.  Hikers will not be allowed to start the Longest Hike after 8:30am; make sure you’re at the trail head before then.
8am – 9am:  Long Hike participants check in at the BCH, shuttle to chosen start point (either River Line, or Sharpe’s Creek Line).
1 – 5pm:  All hikers check out at the BCH (end of Saturday hike).

Sunday – Benmiller to Goderich

6:30 – 8am:  Longest Hike participants check in at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich, shuttle to the trail near Benmiller to continue hiking.
8:15 – 9:45am:  Long Hike participants check in at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich, shuttle to the trail at Riverbend to continue hiking.
12 – 4pm:  All hikers check out (end of Sunday hike)

SHUTTLE DEPARTURE WINDOWS:

When you register, you’ll be asked to choose your shuttle departure time for each morning. 
Departure times are slightly approximate; we’ll do our best to keep to the schedule and we ask that you do the same 🙂

On Saturday, Check-in is at the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH).  On Sunday, it’s at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich. 

Under no circumstances will hikers be allowed to start the longest hike after 8:30am (32.4km on Saturday, 20.2km on Sunday).

The Saturday hike finishes at 5pm, and the Sunday hike at 4pm. For safety reasons, all hikers must be off the trail by those times.  If it looks like you won’t make the cut-off, you’ll be invited to hopscotch to the next check point.

If you’re hiking in a group (+5 people), or with underage hikers, send us an email with your names and we’ll do what we can to keep you on the same shuttle.

COST:

2-day hike:   Adults: $30     Child/Youth under 18: $10
   (includes shuttles, trail map, water and snacks at the check points, souvenir badge on completion)

Optional donation to the Conservation Authority:  $5.50

At registration, you’ll be offered the opportunity to donate $5.50.  In October, we’ll submit these funds to our Conservation Authority for tree planting and restoration in the Maitland River Valley.  In 2016, Camino participants donated funds to help plant 45 hardwoods and 480 flowering shrubs along the Maitland River, within Falls Reserve Conservation Area. As part of a longer-term restoration project, these plantings will help restore resiliency along the river and provide important habitat.  Watch for these plantings near the picnic shelter, and near the group camping site by the river.  If you’re doing the full hike on Sunday, you’ll pass through this area about an hour into the hike.

Q&A

THE EVENT

What is the Camino?

El Camino Maitland (El Camino del Sinuoso Rio Maitland) is a 52.6km, 2-day hike along the entire Maitland Trail.  It’s modelled after the somewhat-more-famous Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage from southern France through the north of Spain to the Atlantic Ocean.

How long will the full hike take?

It depends on your pace, but based on completion times in previous years…

Saturday, 32.4km: 5-10 hours
Sunday, 20.2km: 4-8 hours

Is it a difficult hike?  Southern Ontario is flat, right?? 

This is important: This is a challenging hike with many steep hills and stairs up and down through the valley. Even experienced hikers find it challenging and some people are not able to complete it.  Our best advice is this:  Prepare for the event and know how long it will take YOU to walk 32.4km on uneven terrain.

Is there an option to hike less than 52.6km?

There are 2 not-so-long hikes on Saturday – 16km and 11km.  On Sunday, there is 1 not-so-long hike of 13km.  You can choose the lengths that work for you. The not-so-long hikes are not short – you need to be prepared.

What should I bring?

  • At least 1 water bottle. Some hikers simply require more hydration, and warm temperatures can increase everyone’s needs. When you’re training for the hike, be aware of how much water you need to feel comfortable.
  • A cell phone. This is for safety reasons.
  • A small food container.  This year we’ll be doing our utmost to eliminate garbage from the event. If for no other good reasons, it will reduce our expenses and the work we have to do before and after.  For the snacks that you’ll get at the check points, we ask that you bring a small, reusable food container.
  • A sun hat, sun screen, bug repellent, after-bite, band-aids suitable for blisters, lunch, a small first aid kit with any particular items you may require, e.g. an asthma puffer or epi pen. Don’t forget your preferred analgesic.
  • We suggest you put your name on your gear (hats, keys, poles, etc.). If you get separated, chances are much greater that you’ll be reunited.
  • Experienced hikers recommend: hiking poles or walking sticks for the uneven terrain; extra socks; extra shoes; braces if you have knee issues; hiking shoes or boots with good support, not running shoes or sandals.

Can I bring my kids?

Sure! Hikers under 18 years of age are absolutely welcome, but they must be accompanied on the hike by an adult.

TRANSPORTATION

How does the shuttling work?

On each day, you’ll drive yourself to the Check-in point (the BCH on Saturday, and the beach pavilion on Sunday).  After you check in, you’ll be shuttled by bus to your start point on the trail. Then, you hike back to your car.

Can you arrange carpooling from out of town?

We love the idea of carpooling for those coming from out of town. However, we have our hands full with organizing this big hiking event…. So, we suggest you contact the hiking club in your area to see about sharing a ride.

WHERE….

Where is Goderich?   

Goderich is a lovely little town on the shore of Lake Huron.

Where is the Maitland Trail? 

The Maitland Trail follows the Maitland River fairly closely, between Auburn and Goderich.  It’s a beautifully winding trail maintained by the dedicated volunteers of the Maitland Trail Association.

Where can I get a map of the trail?  Can I purchase a trail guide?

When you check in on the morning of the hike, you’ll be provided with the 2022 Camino trail map. Also, 2 weeks before the event, you’ll receive the same map and instructions about navigation by email. 

If you’d like to learn about the Maitland Trail sooner, you could order our trail guide, which has larger scale maps of all the trails that MTA maintains.  Note: the Camino route is slightly different than the main trail, with a couple of camino-specific detours.

Here is a zipped Google Earth file with the important locations for the weekend. This will be downloaded to your computer where you can unzip it, double-click, and it will open in Google Earth if you have it installed on your computer.  If you don’t have Google Earth, give it a try and let me know what happens.

I don’t know your trail and I’m concerned about getting lost.

Most hikers report having little or no difficulty navigating our trail. However, those who do report getting lost (accidentally leaving the trail) say it’s because they weren’t paying attention and missed a turn.

The best strategy is to pay attention to the tools provided:

  • Blazes. Make sure you know how to use them. We don’t always follow the standard of a subsequent blaze being within sight of the current one.
  • Signage. Watch for a variety of MTA signs at significant turn points. There may also be orange traffic cones, blue flags, chalk or paint on the ground, balloons, dancing bears …. haha just kidding about the bears. Maybe. If you see any dancing bears, please let us know.
  • The map. You’ll be given this at Check-in, and it’ll be emailed to you 2 weeks before the event with other details about navigation. If you’re on a cart track or a road, it’s very easy to miss the turn back into the woods so you need to pay attention to the map and know what’s ahead. If you need glasses to read, bring them.
  • Km markers. These are short posts in the ground indicating roughly where you are on the trail. Think of them as important landmarks, not indicators of a precise distance between known points. Why?? Due to various trail changes that happen year to year, the actual length of the trail changes slightly and the km markers on the ground are sometimes not accurate. The Camino map will show the current trail and the actual distance that you’ll be hiking.

When you’re aware of your surroundings, you’ll not only avoid straying off the trail, but you may notice the quirky sing-song of a blue jay, the scent of water near the falls, the changes in vegetation as you pass the pine plantation and the summer wheat fields….

Where do I check in on Saturday?

At 37252 Londesboro Road (County Rd 31), which is the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH), at the corner of Grist Mill Line.  Benmiller is a small community southeast of Goderich. 

Where do I check in on Sunday?

At 40 Cove Road, which is pavilion #2 on the beach in Goderich.  In Goderich, go west on West Street, down the hill towards the beach, follow the road (there’s only one).  After you go around the big curve, the pavilion will be just past the old CPR station, on your right.

FOOD

I heard something about breakfast being provided?

In previous years there was an oatmeal breakfast bar. We’ve decided to skip it this year. This means you’ll have to make your own arrangements which can be challenging in a small town with limited early-morning options. Plan ahead and avoid starting your hike on an empty stomach.

Will lunch be provided?

No.  During the hike, there will be 3-4 check points each day where snacks will be provided, and you’ll be able to refill your water bottle.  You’ll need to prepare your own lunch based on your own needs, for both Saturday and Sunday. Hikers generally feel well fed, but don’t rely on the check points to meet all your nutritional and energy needs.
*Please bring a small food container to receive your snacks.

What’s for supper?

This year we’re inviting everyone to bring a picnic on Saturday Sept 24, 5-8pm.  Pavilion #2, which is also where check-in will be on Sunday morning.  Bring some take-out, or leftovers from home, and join us to watch the sun set over the lake.  Parking after 5pm is free.

ACCOMMODATION

I’m coming from out of town.  Where can I stay?  Should I bring a sleeping bag?

Accommodation is not part of the event. All participants need to make their own arrangements.

While there are many types of accommodation in and around Goderich, we have had good reviews from hikers about these:  Colborne B&B, the Cedar Lodge Motel, Samuels Hotel, and the Maple Leaf Motel

If you want to camp, the Falls Reserve Conservation Area is in Benmiller.

If you’re having difficulty, let us know and we’ll do what we can to help.

What type of toilet options are part of the Camino experience?

There are indoor flush toilets at the beginning and end of each day, and an additional one about 4km into the 20k hike on Sunday (off the trail, at Falls Reserve Conservation Area).  There are a small number of outhouses which will be marked on the Camino map that hikers receive at Check-in.  Otherwise, one must be prepared to go in the woods.  Here’s some good advice. 

I want to run the whole trail in one day; is that an option?

The Camino is designed for hiking at a pace of 3-5km per hour, doing up to 32.6km on Saturday and up to 20.2km on Sunday.  If you want to go at a faster pace, your schedule will not be in sync with our support system and we’ll have a harder time tracking your safe progress.  If you want something more challenging than the 2-day hike, check out The Bad Thing 🙂

REGISTRATION, PAYMENT, REFUNDS

Why do you need my email address?

In case there are last minute changes or advice, this is the only way we’ll have to communicate directly with you. When you register, please make sure you provide a correct email address, and make sure you receive your confirmation emails.

I’m having trouble registering. What’s up?….

The online registration form is a little wonky within some email systems and on some mobile devices. Unfortunately this finickyness is out of our control.  If you’re using a portable device, try using a desktop. If you’re not sure we’ve received your registration info, just send us a separate note [mta AT maitlandtrail.ca] and we’ll do a manual confirmation for you within 24hrs (if not sooner).

How do I pay online?  Do I have to have a PayPal account to register online?  Can I do eTransfer?

If you want to pay via PayPal, you’ll either need a PayPal account, OR a credit card.  Credit card payments are processed through PayPal.  If you would rather not pay online, just mail your cheque payable to Maitland Trail Association, Box 443 Goderich, ON, N7A 4C7.  eTranfer is fine too:  mta AT maitlandtrail.ca  (of course replace AT with @)

I haven’t received a confirmation email. How do I know if I’m registered?

Check your email spam box. If your spam box gets emptied frequently, you may have already missed it.  So, send us a quick email [mta AT maitlandtrail.ca] and we’ll resend confirmation. 

I’m having troubles with PayPal (“Enter a Valid Price” error), what’s going on?

You’re entering your registration fees on the PayPal page and you’re getting the message: “Enter a Valid Price”. Did you put a dollar sign in front of the total of your fees? If so, try entering your registration fees without the dollar sign ( $ ).

When are fees due?  

Fees must be paid within 2 weeks of registering or September 8, whichever comes first.  We’ll send a reminder if we don’t hear from you.  If we get no response, we’ll assume you’ve changed your mind and we’ll deregister you.  If you haven’t heard from us, *please* contact us.  Your spot isn’t guaranteed unless you’ve received your final confirmation.

Something has happened and I can’t do the hike.  What if the event is cancelled completely for extreme weather or covid-related reasons?  Can I get a refund? 

There will be no refunds after September 8. After that, if the event is cancelled by MTA or if a hiker cancels their registration by September 24, any fees paid will be considered a donation to MTA and a charitable receipt will be issued after the event.

OTHER

If you’d like an End-to-End badge, they’ll be available for sale at the end of the hike on Sunday for $4 each (cash only)

Let us know if there’s anything we haven’t covered above.