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Tips for Hiking With Other People

Hiking Mount Benson Nanaimo

I love hiking by myself. With that said, I don't usually do large trips by myself though in case something goes wrong. It's nice to have another person there to help carry things, figure out where to go on the map and help out if you get injured. Other like-minded people also can make the trip into an incredible adventure as compared to just another hike. Hiking alone can be peaceful and energizing but it can also be lonely at times. It's nice to have a someone to share a summit or view with. 

Some people view hiking that same way I do. Some don't. Some like to go fast, some like to go slow. No matter how you look at it there are many different ways to go about the simple act of hiking. Don't let differences get in the way of a good hike. Check out some of these tips to help you get the most out of hiking with others. 

 

Communicate

Communication with your group members is one of the most important things you'll need to do on a hike with other people. Problems can arise when members of the group don't communicate an issue or a change in plans. All members should be included in the decision making process to make them feel included and everyone will have all the information. People are happier when they are included in the process.

 

Know Expectations

I like to know what's expected of me on a hike. If I've been hiking with someone for a while then I'll know before hand what they expect on a hike. If I've never been with someone though, they may have different expectations for what's going to happen when you hike. They may be a super fast hiker and expect you to be the same. They may be a super slow hiker and be stopping to enjoy the view and take photos all the time. Always clear up what the leader expects of the group before leaving town for your hike and you'll know what you're getting into. 

This is especially important when you're heading out hiking to somewhere you've never been before. You may think that you should never attempt something that's harder than you've done before. If you don't do anything you've never done before then you'll never learn anything new. It's tough but very exciting to go to new places and hike harder trails that you've done before. The important part comes in with what group you're with. Some groups are more supportive than others when it comes to hikers that are new to an area or toughness for hiking. As long the leader knows you haven't tried hiking the area before and you know they are supportive for new hikers to try new things. Everyone is happier when they know what the other members expect.   

 

Know Plan and Timeline

This is similiar to knowing expectactions. Every hiking day will have a plan and a timeline. That basically all boils down to what you're going to do and when. Some people like to follow their plan to the letter and others use them as a basic guideline. Hikes go the smoothest when everyone knows what's going to happen and when. They will all be meeting at the same place and the same time. They'll know what distance the hike is going to be, when time the group is going to start and how long the hike is expected to take. Don't be upset when things don't go exactly to plan but the least stressful way to lead and follow a hike is to try and follow the plan as closely as possible. 

 

Know Experience Level

Whether you're leading a hike or a member of the group, there will always members that are more advanced than others. The best hikes are with a group that is of similar experience levels. The leader is probably the most experienced and all of the members are capable of completing the hike. As long as the group is supportive of newer members then you will have no problems going on hikes that you've never done before and getting help through the difficult sections. When you get into more advanced hiking, be honest with the leader and other members about your experience and comfort levels. You can get into some tight situations by being misleading about the level of hiker that you are. 

 

Know Gear and it's Limitations

It's hard to know exactly how your gear is going to perform before you take it into the wilderness. Sometimes you get a bad piece of gear or something will go wrong and things will break. The more you hike, the more you'll know what kind of gear is good for each type of situations. You probably won't be taking a warm down jacket when you for a hike in the summer and will most likely need more warm layers in the winter than you would in the summer. 

What gear you'll need to bring on a hike will depend on how long you're going, the difficulty of the trail, and the weather conditions. For longer hikes, you'll need hardier gear because it will take longer to complete the hike and the gear will need to stand up longer. For more extreme weather you'll need better gear to stay dry and comfortable. You'll be much more comfortable in a higher-quality 3-layer waterproof jacket than a low-quality semi-waterproof jacket in torrential rain. Low-quality gear may be perfectly ok for the occasional hike but once you get more into the sport (as I'm sure you will), you may want to invest in some high-quality gear that will last longer. 

Everyone has their different tastes for what gear they bring and when. Some people like to go extremely lightweight and only bring the bare essentials. Others like to bring everything but the kitchen sink. Be careful bringing too much because you have to carry it all on your back!

 

Be mindful of the slowest hiker

Every group will have members that go different speeds. You may be the fastest in one group and the slowest in another. There will always be a member that is slower than the rest. Make sure you don't go faster than this member can go or they might start taking risks or making bad decisions to try and keep up with the group. You never want to get separated from the group, especially if you don't know the way. If you're having trouble keeping up or you notice another member of the group is, notify the group leader and try to adjust the pace so that everyone is having a good time on the hike. 

This is where communicating expectations come in. If the hiking leader knows what level of hikers each member is he is less likely to go too fast for the group. If some of the members weren't honest about their fitness and experience level, they may find themselves hard-pressed to keep up. 

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