This weekend I will join a group of people for a hike. Most of these people I have never met before. We are supposed to be a group of ten. They do not know me and I do not know them. There are both positive and negative sides to hiking with a group of new people. The obvious positive thing is that you will be meeting new people who also like to hike! What a nice way to make new friends right?
Yes, it is a nice way to make new friends, be social and share the experience, but whenever hiking with new people my biggest concern is their fitness level and experience. Will they be too slow? Too fast?
When asking a friend or a family member to join your hike you also need to consider these things. I have myself experienced that people who I thought would be fit enough for the hike were not. This is not a nice situation to be in for neither the organizer or the attenders.
So to conclude, when organizing a hike:
- Make packing lists.
- Tell everybody how much food and water they need to have with them as a minimum.
- Inform attendees about how many meters the hike is, if there is some scrambling or exposed areas, what you expect the terrain to be like. How many hours you expect to use etc.
- Ask attendees how much hiking experience they have and if they have done any hikes recently (people who hiked a lot 2 years ago may not be fit now).
- While hiking adjust your speed to rest of the group and take care of the slowest ones.
If you have a slow hiker in your group you will in worst case need to shorten the hike but people may also turn out to hike much faster than you. Maybe you asked some more experienced hikes to join your hike and now they are running up that mountain? This is for me an equally bad situation. I hate hiking so fast that I barely can catch my breath. I mean, I hike not to workout but to enjoy the views.. and I must say that I am not fit enough to run up mountains ( I wish I was). Therefore this situation can equally destroy my hiking experience.
How to handle this? Well, I try to put the people I know are fast at the end of the group. BUT this only works with people you know. When you don’t know your new hiking partners ,you can’t go and command them to go behind everybody. In this case I just remind myself that I need to hike in my own speed. Normally that works fine (because I will not be hours behind) and I still have nice time because the fast ones will wait for the rest of the group on the top.
And now comes the deal breaker for me. If I hike with people who are fast – they more or less “run” to the peak, and then when I get there they are all ready to head down again.. Well, then I will NOT be hiking with these people again. I need my time on the top of the peak!!!
What do you think of hiking with people you don’t know? Ever done that?
I will make a post about the hike itself and how it went sometime during the weekend. Until then I hope you get out to explore some mountains this weekend, be it alone or with new hiking buddies :).