Issue 38 has been released! Read online or download your own high definition copy with a Premium Membership.



Game Warden

Group hikes with newbies

Recommended Posts

Game Warden

I will be taking two non-hiker brothers and their two teen sons on a mild flatlands hike, two nights,  this summer. I am wondering--should we camp and eat as a group, with the gear divided among us, or break down into teams of dad & son? Should I be the guide, who organizes everything, or just the uncle along for the walk? I know I have far more experience and knowledge than my four companions; if they would just follow my instructions and let me call the shots, they would have a good, safe first hike. But I don't want to be an overbearing know-it-all a-hole. Any thoughts on the subject would be appreciated. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
balzaccom

Seems like this is not a question you can decide alone.  It's something you should discuss with the group, offering suggestions and options, and letting them participate in the decision process.  That's just good people management.

There are real advantages of sharing the load by dividing up some of the equipment (not everybody needs to bring a stove, etc) as long as you all agree that you will stay together and hike together.  If you don't stay together, then whoever doesn't have the stove is going to be hungry at dinner time if there is some problem reconnecting.

And what kinds of shots do you want to call?  When and where to camp?  I wouldn't let you "call that shot" if I were hiking with you---because I might get tired before you do, or want to fish more, etc.  Those kinds of decisions should be made in council...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PaulGS

My suggestion is that since they have no experience hiking or backpacking, they can only participate in decisions that are not safety related. 

Newbies can behave a bit recklessly in the wild (near water, around fires, in regards to wildlife) and having someone (that’s you B)) to rein them in if necessary is a good thing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Grey Mouse

I have often taken newbies with me hiking. I have found that most times they want me to take charge and plan everything so I do so but allow options for different routes and campsites since the planned sites are sometimes occupied when we get there. Those newbies that are becoming regulars are included into the planning if they want to be. A fun way to do the meals is to offer a suggestion of each "team" to cook their own breakfast and lunch to allow bonding/family time and either cook separately  at one time around the campfire at supper or as one unit for a shared meal. This allows everyone to share in a taste testing of different meals if cooked separately at the same time. I would strongly suggest teaching everyone to cook in one spot if in bear country. This will also allow each team to use different methods of cooking and expose them to several ways at once possibly such as alcohol burners, canister stoves, campfire, etc styles of meal prepping and cooking. Cooking together at one time on the first night will also let you emphasize the importance of hanging your food before dark if needed.

I have also learned that by allowing everyone to pair up separately for sleeping allows a chance to go around and offer suggestions in order to aid in tent/hammock site selection, proper techniques with new or unfamiliar gear, and such. This is also a great time to explain why you cook, eat, and sleep at different spots in bear country and thus where your campsites/bedding areas should be located.  

Listen to your group on the hike and if they are tired take a break. If they are really tired have a shorter campsite in mind. Many times they will see a waterfall or view and want to stay there or somewhere similar so have that as an alternate plan.

Often the best approach is to start with "We can..." and lead into "Then we will..." type of conversations. You can express the unity of the group by mustering before, before breaking camp, and after the hike to ensure that no gear (or trash) was forgotten. People do forget sleeping bags and other items :lol:. Designate a trash person ahead of time if needed or make everyone responsible for their own. Six to eight people can generate a lot of trash especially if a newbie brings cans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rickrick

I just got off such a hike with family a sister a niece and nieces BF who was actually the only newbie.I did set the plan for days on the trail and where we would camp but then went over that plan with everyone well in advance. Everyone knew up front how many miles we would go each day and what climbs were to be made (mountain hike), but in the plan I made sure that only one strenuous climb would be made each day.  We carried two stoves and everyone carried a bear can with their own meals. We slept two to a tent to distribute the weight. Once on the trail everything became a community discussion and decision. It all worked out really well with everyone knowing upfront each days and each nights expectations before the trip began. Above all you must be flexible on the trail. We did encounter a situation where the campsite which we intended to use the second night out was no longer there which led to the group agreement to push on two additional miles to the next known AT shelter. Made for a tough second day but shortened the last days hike back to civilization.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now