Having some conversations before leaving on the trip can be the difference between everyone coming back for a trip next year and no one ever talking to each other again. Today I want to talk about what conversations to have before embarking on your trip.
We all want to take our friends and family out and share our passion of the outdoors with them. What we have to keep in mind is that others may want something different out of a particular hike or may not want to walk as many miles. All of these conversations, if had before leaving can be addressed. If not, they can lead to problems along the trail.
Here are the 5 main topics that I believe you should cover before leaving on your trip.
- Shareable gear
This may be an easy one to cover. You all may be sitting around the table, sharing a beer, and the whole reason that you are going on a hike is a destination. Other hikes, however, may have other side destinations that people in the group may want to go explore. Even if there is a main destination in mind make sure that everyone in the group doesn’t have other destinations that they want to achieve before you leave. You don’t want to have this conversation the morning of on the trail and find out that some in your party want to climb a mountain off trail. This only causes arguments and hurt feelings. Have this discussion with beer, maps and food long before you are out on the trail.
Both total distance and distance per day are a huge point of contention for hikes. Everyone has their own skill level and that is going to vary in every group. That doesn’t mean that you need to change your friends, or even hike to the slowest person. What it does mean is that you will have to compromise. Maybe the slower people have to challenge themselves a little more than usual and the faster ones of the party have to hike less mileage in a day than they are used to, but if you do it in a group, it becomes an enjoyable trip for everyone.
Know how many days that you have to go on your trip. This may affect the distance conversation, especially if there is a specific destination in mind. If you have three days for the whole trip, then you have three days to get to mountain whatsitsname and back. Now it becomes more about the distance per day and less about the overall mileage.
You may also have to change your destination or your overall mileage during this conversation. If you have three days and your destination was 100 miles in, this is now an unattainable goal for most of us. You may have to readjust your trip.
Just remember during this conversation that you came in as friends, and you need to leave as friends. Compromise is the word of the day, and you will have to do some of that along the way.
Sometimes this is also an easy discussion as there is only one route to hike. But if there are multiple routes that you can take during your trip, you need to have a conversation to cover skill level desires of the group.
Look at the terrain and pick the route that best suits the whole group. While this may mean that it isn’t as easy or challenging as some in the group may want, you want to pick a route, as a group that the whole party can succeed at.
When hiking in a party, we rarely bring our own tents, we all share tents between the group. Food is another item that we all split up between the packs. The idea is that the whole party can cut weight and share the weight more evenly. In a perfect scenario, everyone’s pack should be within a pound or two from each other’s. While we all have our personal comfort items (hence the pound or two variance), the rest of the weight should be dispersed throughout the party to help share the burden.
Have a gear shakedown before you leave on the trip and show what everyone is carrying. If one person in the group just has way too much stuff, this is a perfect time to address that instead of three miles in, away from the vehicle.
During this gear shakedown go over what can be shared between the group. Does everyone need to bring a stove? Does everyone need to bring fuel? A tent? The list can be just about whatever you want it to be here. Don’t give up essentials in case you get separated. If done smartly however, you can have a much lighter pack and have enough gear for everyone.
Lastly make sure that you cover any last concerns that everyone has. Best to get these out now than while you are hiking. If they are discussed during the trip planning, they can be planned for and addressed. If they aren’t brought up until you are one the trail, they are much harder to work through.
Don’t be afraid to speak up at this point, again it is best to discuss everything now. No concern is too small or too big. You want to go into the trip knowing that you planed for all the contingencies.
Hiking and camping in a group can be a great experience, it can also ruin relationships. You want to plan the trip before you leave. You need to be willing to listen to each other’s concerns and compromise to allow everyone to enjoy the trip. Remember that this meeting is not about showing off your skill level or gear, but a way to meld your different abilities and equipment. If you keep an open mind and have these 5 topics in mind, you can plan a trip that is set up for fun had by all.