© Photo by Marlena Morrison

By Raye Mocioiu

Military veteran Victoria (Walsh) Lanthier wears many hats, representative of her multitude of interests.

After a successful career with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), she became a public speaker, an information technology consultant, and a well-travelled adventurist. She joined the CAF in 1997 as a signal operator and spent 14 years serving her country. Her work took her to East Timor in 1999, working as a UN Peacemaker with Operation TOUCAN, and on a year-long stint as a member of the Skyhawks, the CA’s precision skydiving team, in 2002.

“My time in the military gave me the skills and confidence to be out on my own and try new and difficult things. With every task, exercise, and deployment, these skills and confidence were honed. It provided a safe environment to learn, get it wrong, try again, and do better. That confidence proved to be invaluable in life and in developing a love for being in nature.”

Driven by a passion for adventure, media, and wellness, Lanthier runs GirlGoneGood, an online resource for mental health, hiker safety, and responsible recreation.

GirlGoneGood encourages smart hiking by helping readers find new trails to explore. This mission led Lanthier to create the 2020 Guide to Hiking Trails in Ottawa and Region, sharing her knowledge of trails and hiking information.

“I realized that because all trails are governed by either different levels of government or different private landowners, there is no one spot to go look for everything in Ottawa. So, I thought I would create one. It’s the ultimate hiking guide for everyone to enjoy, and I really mean everyone,” Lanthier explained. “The grounding nature of the outdoors has universal appeal and positive outcomes. In my mind, it’s a return to prioritizing our values over getting lost in the noise of being busy.”

The retired Master Corporal donates 100 percent of merchandise proceeds to two nonprofit organizations: Boots on the Ground, a nonprofit providing peer support to first responders, and the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust, which protects habitats and wildlife in Lanark County, southwest of Ottawa. Last year, in the first year of sales, Lanthier was able to donate $12,000.

GirlGoneGood is also an official partner of #NatureForAll and participates in Tree Canada’s Grow Clean Air program by donating monthly to support tree planting. This year, GirlGoneGood launched the #goodhumanrevolution initiative raising funds to implement inclusivity and accessibility changes in Canadian trails. From encouraging land managers to implement land acknowledgements, to trails and resources suitable for wheelchairs, and so much more, the #goodhumanrevolution seeks to make hiking for everyone.

GirlGoneGood’s Safe Hiking Tips

The increase in new hikers over the pandemic leaves an opportunity to provide resources and awareness about responsible recreation. As an expert on safe hiking, Lanthier shares her top tips for winter adventures, suitable for every level.

“It’s no secret, the fall and winter are my absolute favourite seasons to hike. The trails are quieter, you don’t have to wake up as early to catch an incredible sunrise, and there are no bugs, which is a big win for those of us in Ontario.

“Hiking in the winter requires a little planning and preparation. Three gear recommendations would include poles, microspikes, and gaiters. These help with stability on ice and keep your feet dry through deep snow.”

Winter Hike Checklist

  1. Never walk on groomed x-country ski trails
  2. Abide by trail designations (snowshoe, ski, hike only)
  3. Dress in layers (synthetic or wool, never cotton)
  4. Follow Leave No Trace principles
  5. Keep extra warm clothing, socks, shoes in the car to change into
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