Keep moving – words that Pat Gilmar lives by.
Fernie is known globally today as a mountain biking destination, thanks to a core group of cycling enthusiasts who spent countless hours breaking in trails, 30 years ago.
Thirty years ago, mountain biking was considered ‘extreme’, only chased by a niche group of people. Now, it’s not. Any night of the week you’ll see groups of people from a large range of ages, heading out of Fernie bound for the trails.
Pat Gilmar was recognized as the Area A Volunteer of the Year after devoting over 30 years to the development, improvement and expansion of the community trail network in the Fernie area.
“Pat’s contribution to the recreation culture in our area is astounding and it is an honour to be able to acknowledge his tireless volunteerism,” said RDEK Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski.
“His influence on our local trails date back to the beginning, as he was responsible for the mapping of the very early Fernie trails system,” said Sosnowski.
In addition to his influence on what the trail network in Fernie has become, Gilmar was also instrumental in founding the Fernie Trails and Ski Club, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016.
Friends spoke about Gilmar’s dedication to the sport, how much work he has put in over the years, as well as the countless trails he was involved in building; Old Goat, Megahurtz, Happy Gilmar, Snakebite, Verboten, Hyperventilation, Castle Rocks, South Castle, Southern Comfort, Porky Blue, Porky Black to name a few. Most of the time, Gilmar explained, it was a core group of two or three of them who were committed to building trail.
“Whatever is being said about Pat and his work on the trails is probably not enough,” said Ian Stokie, President of the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club.
“It’s because of Pat, that anyone who enjoys non-motorized access to the backcountry, largely has Pat to thank for that,” he added.
From sitting through meetings with government officials to gain access to land, to picking up a tool and carving out the trail himself, Gilmar’s work will always remain in the mountains surrounding Fernie.
This, Stokie said, goes back a long time. Since Gilmar was young, he travelled from the Crowsnest Pass to ski in Fernie, and eventually, naturally began to give back.
“Certainly without Pat’s contribution, the Valley would be a little different place than it is right now,” said Stokie.
Gilmar said it all started as just a group of guys heading out to build trail and go have a beer after. Now, all these years later, he said it’s surreal to look back at all they’ve accomplished.
Looking back, Gilmar considers his biggest accomplishments the successful ski touring area in the Lizard Range, as well as the Castle Mountain trail system.