Saturday, July 20, 2019

Hiking Guidelines

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

BUDDY HIKES:  As people join our energetic hiking-for-exercise group, it’s helpful to communicate how we are VERY different from other groups.  I know this list seems like a LOT, but every single one of these guidelines has emerged from some issue or concern.

Our primary goal when hiking is safety, followed by exercise, and we hope for everyone to have a good time.  Since that’s different for everyone, please read before you join us:

Our prime directive is exercise – that’s why the Morning Hikers Buddy Hikes were formed.  Secondarily, we love nature.  That we can get great exercise – outside – and connect with our buddies is wonderful, but the social is an ancillary benefit of being outside exercising.

Chatter:   Many people go into nature for the serenity.  4+ hours of competing conversations is not serene. We are a “small” group by design.  Large groups of 16 to 20 can have 8 to 9 different, competing conversations.  It can get loud, when some of us want to hear the birds, the frogs, the burbling water, even the wind in the groaning trees.

  • Some hikers are sound sensitive; some are hard of hearing.  One hiker I knew got migraines from the loud voices and stopped hiking with us.
  • Our hiking group is not the usual – show up, hike, social/chatty hiking group; hence these guidelines.
  • Quiet zones are where we walk in complete silence (except for trail hazard warnings).  They include early starts in places like Muir Woods where people go for serenity,  morning walks through campgrounds where people might be sleeping or waking, places where hazards are present so everyone can hear the warnings, as well as along streams, entering non-system trails or anytime a hiker requests “radio silence.”
  • Be aware of your surroundings and, if in doubt,  listen.  Remember Shinrin Yoku!
  • Please do not wait for the leader to call a quiet zone.
  • Repartee and wit welcome.  No whining.  NO drama.
  • Consider this guideline:  If you find you’ve been discussing the same topic for over 15 minutes consider that there are other hikers around you who are hearing your conversation.  On one hike the subject of death came up.  2 hikers were talking loudly for over an hour about death and dying.  While this can be an important topic, it was not an inclusive experience and – enough already.  It was difficult to get far enough away from the voices to have the nature experience and catharsis that being on the trail brings.
  • Inclusion:  If a hiker or the hike coordinator requests a check-in, please honor that.  Some hikes start on a fire road or wide trail.  This is an excellent time to hear from one hiker at a time.  When one person is talking, others are actively listening.  Starting a separate conversation during this time is divisive, disrespectful and against the “friend code.”

Trail Hazards & Conditions:  We call warnings – “Low Branch,” “Poison Oak in the Trail,” “NEWT!” We ask the last person on the trail to acknowledge this so we know everyone has heard it.   This means that conversations must take second place to trail awareness.   Please be aware and ON so that everyone is safe and has a good time, even if part of that time is quiet.  If anyone steps on a newt – the consequences are too severe to put in writing.

Confirm:  Trail head locations and start times can change due to weather or whim.  We ask that you reply to the hike coordinator to let him/her know of your intention to join us.

RSVP:  If it’s a meet-up hike, keep your status current.  Always check the hike listing the night before or morning of in case of changes.  Changes can occur due to weather or whim.

Plus One:  Please do not extend an invitation to someone  without first checking with the hike coordinator.  If you do bring a buddy, please make sure s/he reads these guidelines before joining us.

OTT:  We start walking at the posted start time – it’s our OTT (on the trail) time.  If you have a specific time you must finish by, let the hike leader know before the hike starts.

Stopping:  We plan our gear adjustment stops/pauses collectively to minimize non-hiking time.  When hiking in rain – many more stops!  If you are stopping for photos, it is up to you to catch up with the group.

Biology breaks:  call your need (for this or any other reason to pause or stop), we’ll either wait or continue more slowly (if it’s a trail without an intersection).  Please do not walk ahead of the group for a biology break and then expect everyone to wait for you.

Trail Etiquette: 

  • Wait at intersections and bridges.
  • If there’s a substantial spacing in the group, it’s important to make sure the last person is with the group.  If you’re in the lead, occasionally look back.
  • If you’re lagging, try to keep up, even if/especially if, it means less talking, more walking.  It might surprise you how much more expeditiously you can hike if you focus on the trail instead of chatting with your buddies.   But, if you’re having trouble, let the leader or another hiker know.
  • If your plan is to go at your own pace, let the leader know at the start.  Do not leave the hike without informing the leader.
  • Please do not stop in the middle of the trail causing everyone behind you to stop.  Pull off to the side so those who like to keep moving (even if more slowly so you can catch up) can do so.
  • If you have your cell on (for GPS, work or medical reasons), try to turn it low or vibrate.  If you get a call while hiking, please hang back away from the group to have your conversation.
  • Carry a map.  You are ultimately responsible for yourself.

Perfume:  don’t wear it.

No Cussing:  Profanity isn’t pretty.

Ill?:  Do not show up with an active cold.    It is a myth that we are not contagious towards the end of a cold – we are contagious until we are well.   Particles from a sneeze can travel up to 25′.

Pole Etiquette:  make sure your pole tips are under your control and not aiming at other hikers.  Make your intentions clear as hikers pass you.  Practice active pole etiquette.

Hike Descriptions:   We try to accurately describe the hikes so that hikers can decide if they’d like to join us for that hike.  If you confirm your intention to join us, please plan to join us for the stated hike.  This helps prevent schisms and extra conversation on the trail.  However, sometimes people need to shorten the hike for all kinds of reasons.   If you need to peel off, inform the hike coordinator as soon as possible.   Hiking back alone, especially if your reason is a medical one, may be contraindicated.

Know your average hiking pace so if a hike is listed as 2.4 mph you know you are comfortable with that pace.  2.4 average means that we’ll be pushing on flat and easy sections up to 3 mph to achieve the average.

Car Pooling: 

  • Not everyone is comfortable car-pooling.  Do not offer someone else’s car or coordinate for someone else.
  • Car poolers:  Be early.  Consider tolls, parking fees and gas contributions.  Bring extra shoes for wearing in the car after the hike (or some protection for muddy boots on floor mats).  Err on the side of overly gracious.

Hike Ratings (when we use them):  Hike ratings consist of a number-letter code where the number is the distance and the letter is the amount of uphill climbing.  Most of our morning hikes tend to be 2-B/C.

Length (miles)

1: Up to 5
2: 5 – 10
3: 10 – 15
4: 15 – 20

Elevation Gain (feet)

A: under 1,000
B: 1,000 to 2,000
C: 2,000 to 3,000
D: 3,000 to 4,000

Comments

One Response to “Hiking Guidelines”
  1. Chip says:

    Good thoughts here!

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