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Presentation for Hike Organizers

Hiking with the WMC, By Donn Seeley

Why organize hiking activities?
The basics
Some questions you might have about hiking activities and organizers
How to make hiking activities go well
How to recognize (and rescue) situations that aren't going well
Organizing out of town trips

 

Why organize hiking activities

You get all the fun stuff that goes with joining a hiking activity.
  • see new places
  • meet new people
  • challenge yourself

  • And you get to go exactly where you want to go.
  • experience the joy of showing others a cool hike
  • avoid boredom of the same old hikes to the same old places
  • find company for exploring new places

  •  

    The basics

    Start with a hike you know and enjoy
  • Get the hike on the schedule
  • choose a destination and route
  • choose a date plus (optionally) departure time and meeting place
  • fill out the hiking activities form from the hiking calendar on the web
  • or contact one of the hiking directors or a member of the hiking committee

  • Be aware of Rambler publication deadlines
  • the Rambler deadline is the 10th of the preceding month
  • for example, May activities need to be turned in by April 10th
  • the Rambler doesn't always come out on time -- plan for it
  • the hiking committee appreciates lead time!

  • On the day of the activity
  • arrive at the meeting place 10 - 15 minutes early
  • prior to the day of your activity, you should receive in the mail a packet with a release form / sign-up sheet
  • we distribute sign-up sheets to evening hike organizers during evening hikes
  • get people to fill out the release form / sign-up sheet
  • tell people how to find the trail head
  • organize carpooling
  • meet people at the trail head
  • do the hike
  • check people off on the sign-up sheet

  • Afterward
  • relax
  • mail the sign-up sheet and trail survey form using the stamped envelope

  •  

    Some questions you might have about hiking activities and organizers

    What kinds of hikes can I do?
  • day hikes
  • afternoon hikes
  • evening hikes
  • moonlight hikes
  • family hikes
  • dog hikes
  • artist hikes
  • musical hikes
  • gourmet hikes
  • lodge-based hikes

  • What other fun things can I do with hikes?
  • loop hikes
  • key exchange hikes
  • nature hikes
  • geology / fossil hikes
  • historical hikes
  • hikes combined with parties
  • hikes combined with restaurant visits
  • hikes combined with lodge service
  • out of town day hikes

  • What if I want to do something more advanced?
  • off-trail hikes and scrambles
  • marathon hikes
  • snow hikes
  • exploratory hikes
  • (we leave real mountaineering to the climbing committee)

  • What's in the packets that get mailed to organizers?
  • instructions for organizers
  • a release form / sign-up sheet
  • a membership form
  • a trail condition survey
  • (the board occasionally changes the contents)

  • Do I have to have some special training to organize a hike?
  • no, other than life experience, common sense and good citizenship
  • but we encourage people to appreciate their abilities

  • Do I get paid to organize hikes?
  • no -- not a penny
  • everything (EVERYTHING!) is done by unpaid volunteers
  • we have no professional guides, no paid staff, no fund-raisers -- zip!

  • What are my responsibilities as an organizer?
  • mostly, the same responsibilities as any Club member and hike participant
  • in addition, you must complete and return the sign-up sheet
  • otherwise, it's sort of like being the host at a party

  • Does the Club have policies about hiking activities?
  • yes, there are written policies
  • you should have received them in your membership packet
  • we can supply new copies if you need them

  • Does the Club carry insurance for hike organizers and/or participants?
  • no, sorry
  • if you don't have your own medical and homeowners/liability insurance ...
  • ... you might be taking a risk
  • the Club, its organizers and participants have never been sued -- yet

  • Does everyone understand that hiking is sometimes a risky activity?
  • sort of, but we do our best to remind everyone
  • and we'll remind you of that right now!
  • Club policy and common sense: don't do something you might regret
  • understand your capabilities and don't exceed them
  • have respect for acts of god and the failings of man

  • Can I drop someone from a hike?
  • yes, if they are causing problems -- it's your call
  • if you drop someone from a hike, help them back to the trail head
  • if someone doesn't have the right gear, don't let them come on the hike
  • there are many reasons to send someone back, most of them innocent
  • never, ever put yourself or the group in real danger
  • cancel the hike and return to the trail head if there's any question

  • When should I leave the meeting place and start the hike?
  • people need to be at the meeting place by the meeting time
  • make sure everyone signs the release form
  • don't leave till the departure time, if one was stated in the write-up
  • if someone doesn't read and sign the form, they are NOT on the hike
  • it's polite to accept late-comers

  • Does the hiking committee choose hikes?
  • no, organizers choose hikes -- but ...
  • we work with organizers to create a (mostly) balanced schedule
  • ultimately we will schedule anything that members want to organize

  • Will the hiking committee reject my hike?
  • in practice: no, this has never happened to our knowledge
  • we might try to talk you out of a bad hike
  • we will advertise a hike's risks in the write-up, if we know them

  • What's the best way to submit a hiking activity?
  • complete the hike activity form from the hiking calendar on the web
  • or send a write-up to one of the hiking directors via e-mail or call one of the hiking directors or someone on the hiking committee
  • or submit a paper write-up (preferably typed)
  • we will use any text that you submit; the more the merrier
  • we do reserve the right to edit submissions
  • you can mention a hiking activity to one of the hiking directors while on a hike, however, unless we can make a note of it while hiking, we might forget

  • Aren't evening hikes done specially?
  • yes, evening hikes are put together separately
  • talk to one of the hiking directors if you would like to organize an evening hike
  • however, moonlight hikes are scheduled like regular hikes

  • Do I have to be a member to organize an activity?
  • yes
  • non-members (prospective members, guests) may participate in activities
  • only members may organize activities
  • hey, it's a club!

  • What if someone on my hike wants to become a member?
  • they should mail a signed membership form with dues and application fee ...
  • ... to the attention of the membership director at the Club office
  • they can use the membership form from the organizer's packet
  • or they can download the form from the Club's web site
  • or they can ask a board member (membership director, hiking director)

  • What if nobody shows up for my hike?
  • it happens
  • that's one reason why the hiking committee tries to balance the schedule
  • sometimes the weather is questionable; sometimes it's basketball finals
  • sometimes you never find out why
  • don't let it get you down
  • it happens to just about everyone once in a while

  • Do I have to show up for my hike if [insert excuse here]?
  • yes
  • even if it's pouring down rain or there's 6 inches of fresh snow
  • feel free to leave at the meeting time if no one shows up
  • don't leave until the departure time if one was listed in the write-up
  • feel free to cancel the hike in bad situations, but be there to tell people
  • if you have a schedule conflict, find a substitute organizer
  • substitutes have all of the responsibilities of regular organizers
  • substitute organizers should contact one of the hiking directors
  • if there's an emergency, call one of the hiking directors directly
  • one exception: to cancel pre-registered activities, just call participants

  • Don't we have enough organizers already?
  • no, we barely get by in most months
  • people tend to take the Club for granted
  • nothing gets done without volunteers!

  • What if I have an activity that straddles committees?
  • sometimes people want to do hiking plus snowshoeing
  • or a car camp with both biking and hiking activities
  • some MSD and EXT hikes straddle hiking and mountaineering
  • you should choose one committee and work with it
  • you don't need to involve multiple committees

  •  

    How to make hiking activities go well

    Be a good citizen, just as you would be on any hike
  • you should do the right thing regardless of whether you're the organizer
  • if you organize a hike, you may well have the most experience on the hike
  • you can help out less experienced hikers
  • remember, you're the host of the party
  • most of this stuff is pretty obvious, we hope

  • Know the route
  • hike it yourself or go as a participant on another hike
  • or if it's an exploratory hike, check maps and guidebooks
  • avoid getting lost
  • you can get lost on the way to the trailhead too!

  • The question of gear
  • gear can be important ...
  • ... but so is common sense
  • why carry an ice axe if you aren't competent to use it?
  • still, there are some gear essentials
  • see the ten essentials for a list of gear you should always carry along with other recommendations

  • If someone has inadequate experience or gear, don't let them participate
  • most people have common sense about gear, but some need clues
  • most hikes require boots; some hikes require tough boots
  • some folks don't bring essentials like water
  • if a hike requires ice axe experience, don't take inexperienced people
  • make sure people understand the requirements and the risks
  • water is by far the biggest essential

  • Counting heads
  • if there are more than a couple participants, count heads
  • it really works!
  • count heads initially at the meeting place
  • count again at the trailhead
  • count again at rest stops
  • count again at the end of the hike (and check people off)
  • make sure that you don't go over the headcount limit for wilderness hikes
  • the current group size limit for wilderness areas around Salt Lake City is 10, including the organizer

  • Carpooling
  • carpooling helps to avoid parking problems at trail heads
  • it can also save on gas and fees
  • on long trips, everyone kicks in for gas money (and optionally mileage)
  • make sure that people know the arrangements before they leave
  • make sure that the drivers are clear on where you are going
  • if it's a long drive, give maps to drivers or illustrate the route on a map
  • don't leave until you see every participant with a driver
  • count the cars just like you would count heads
  • wait for drivers at obvious way points
  • on long drives, bring an air pump, engine oil, extra water, etc.

  • Trail etiquette
  • with more than a few people, hikers break into groups
  • find someone to bring up the rear and account for everyone
  • sometimes it's better for you to be in the rear; find someone for the front
  • collect people and give directions in complicated situations
  • for example, collect people at trail junctions
  • on really enormous hikes, assign traffic directors at trail junctions
  • look for people in trouble and attend to them
  • point out the cool stuff: waterfalls, crags, fossils, bighorn sheep, etc.
  • but don't be a pest

  • Keep to a schedule
  • before the hike, estimate the duration
  • note the starting time
  • make sure that you can get back safely before dark
  • remember that not everyone may hike as quickly as you do
  • it's unfortunate if you don't make it to the destination, but sometimes it's better to turn around

  • Account for everyone at the end
  • do a head count and check participants off of the sign-up sheet
  • make sure that no one gets left behind at the trail head

  •  

    How to recognize (and rescue) situations that aren't going well

    Don't get intimidated or challenged into an unsafe situation
  • groups take more and bigger risks than individuals (!)
  • don't try to go on when water runs short
  • don't try to go on when the weather turns really bad
  • don't try to go on if the snow is deeper than expected
  • don't do scrambles when people are inexperienced or tired
  • don't let someone talk you into abandoning your good judgment
  • (this applies whether you are an organizer or a participant)
  • people may be disappointed, but that's better than being dead

  • Recognize the limitations of your group
  • a hike is only as fast as its slowest participant
  • pay more attention to people than to scenery ...
  • ... the scenery will still be there when you come back next time!
  • observe, ask questions, listen -- measure the group's progress
  • watch for water running out, people developing blisters, tiredness
  • it's not a race -- discourage people from getting far ahead of the group
  • if the group is stronger than expected, then you may take advantage of it
  • but if the group is weaker than expected, reduce your expectations!

  • Stay away from rattlesnakes
  • people have an odd habit of gathering around rattlers and pointing at them
  • leave them alone and they will leave you alone

  • Stay away from big critters
  • cows are big critters, and not very bright -- watch out!
  • wild animals are not 'cute': don't pet the moose / bears / goats etc.

  • Learn from experience
  • analyze your mistakes and remember them

  • If there's an accident, what should I do?
  • identify participants with first aid experience
  • locate the group's first aid kits
  • stabilize the victim
  • use your judgment about whether it's safe to move the victim
  • never leave the victim alone
  • try not to travel for help alone
  • make sure that the people leaving for help know the route
  • make sure that they can find you when they return with rescuers
  • make it easy for rescuers to spot you
  • fill out an accident report for the Club

  • What if someone goes missing?
  • collect the group -- don't lose any more people
  • wait a reasonable amount of time for slow people to catch up
  • search briefly but carefully -- don't take unnecessary risks
  • look at places where people could get lost
  • get the rest of the group safely back to the trail head
  • call search and rescue

  •  

    Organizing out of town trips

    Again, most of this should be obvious... Car camps
  • a car camp is a trip where you carry your overnight gear in the car
  • typically you stay at campgrounds and do day hikes
  • the organizer needs to book any campground reservations

  • Backpacks
  • on a backpack, you carry your overnight gear with you
  • you might car camp for one or more nights

  • How do I prepare to organize an out of town trip?
  • all participants must register with the organizer (you!)
  • you do the research on (for example) group size limits
  • when someone calls, you take down the caller's name and phone number
  • you fill them in on details of the trip
  • you tell them that you will call back later with final details
  • you ask about whether they would be willing to drive in a carpool

  • A few days before the trip...
  • you call everyone back to discuss the final arrangements
  • some folks will probably back out at this time (anywhere from 0 - 100%)
  • you assign people to carpool vehicles
  • you give directions for the first night's campground to the drivers
  • if you have a cell phone, give your number to the drivers
  • if a driver has a cell phone, you can take it down

  • On the day of the trip...
  • leave as early as you can so that you can get a campsite
  • turn your cell phone on (if you have one)
  • when you arrive at the campground, pay the fee(s) for your site(s)
  • when you have a campsite, post a note or mark it so others can find it
  • if you can't get there early, ask another driver to pay the fee
  • make sure that fees are appropriately reimbursed by the group
  • count the vehicles to make sure that everyone makes it
  •  


    Wasatch Mountain Club, 1390 South 1100 East #103, Salt Lake City, UT 84105-2462
    801-463-9842 — gro.bulCniatnuoMhctasaW@ofnI