“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston ChurchillI will never forget that cloudy Saturday afternoon in February 2017 when I came pedaling across the Garden Route Dam wall to see the first missing signpost from a distance. As I got closer and rode from one vandalised sign post to the next I was met with many emotions ranging from extreme disappointment to anger. As the rain came down hard I had to turn around and head back home with many questions milling through my head as to why anyone in their right mind would do such a thing?
It happened more than a year after we started the Green Sport Foundation non-profit and the George Trails Project. Many hours of negotiations with landowners, months of planning, investment funds and a substantial sponsorship from GR Exp was down the drain through a deliberate act of vandalism and intent to destroy something which had only good intentions.
This was about passion, community and about our hometown George, and I took it personally. We set out to find a solution for many visiting and local mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers getting lost and putting themselves in danger in the process by providing signboards for navigation on three routes around the Saasveld plantation. The marked routes were met with enthusiasm by both locals and tourist during the December holidays and now what was going to be part of many more such signaged route systems around George, were lying in the tatters, together with our team’s hard work.
So now the question remained as to what if we put the signage back and this happens again? After all the land around George has no to very little control on it from landowners and there are more than fifteen entrances between Montagu Pass and the NMU Saasveld Campus to create this unfortunate ‘free for all’ that allows a continuous vandalism to occur regularly in our mountain. We had to find a different solution and from the despair rose an opportunity to use technology to help users safely navigate to routes and trails around George.
To date we have mapped more than a thousand kilometres of routes around George making it the largest and most diverse route network in the country. Hoorah! This is what eco-tourism is all about and means a lot for our local tourism, conservation, job creation and our economy. On 01 September 2018 we are taking the next step and launching our #trailrepublic passport in the form of a self-print George Trails Membership card that can be obtained from our website. This is about adding value to the users and creating some form of an income to the Foundation that has worked tirelessly to make the George Trails project a reality.
For an annual fee of R300 our new memberships will include:
- A loyalty programme offering substantial discounts from a variety of vendors,
- Membership to Lifetags valued at R300 per annum to help keep members, safe,
- Downloads of more than 1000kms of routes to self-navigate with your GPS device or smart phone,
- R50 will be donated to the George Trails Fund to help build/maintain trails, create jobs and ad to a healthier community.