Trip participants can sometimes select a hike that is beyond their current ability, and once on the trail, this can be disheartening, embarrassing, and even dangerous. How does a trip leader provide opportunities that allow participants to make better decisions about hikes before they even set foot on the trail?
On this particular coastal trip, in Oregon, we have hikes that occur simultaneously (harder and easier hike options) that allow hikers with different interests and skill levels to participate. Throughout the program, I offer multiple opportunities for travelers to learn about upcoming hikes, this includes:
- Working with the travel company to maintain accurate information in the trip’s description.
- Presenting photos and information about the hikes in the first evening’s presentation.
- Maintaining a permanent table in our meeting/dining area that has trail guides, maps, and all sorts of interpretive materials and visual and easy-to-read trail descriptions.
- Provide a review of the hike the evening before, and the following morning along with current weather, temperatures, etc.
- Use a drip-information method for communicating, meaning this information is always available. One of the best tools for this is having easy-to-read laminated sheets (shown) that provide photos and hike details. These are perfect for including in the shuttle and for passing around during meals the day before that particular hike. I make sure everyone on the trip has an opportunity to review these.
The photo shows both sides of the same 3 laminated sheets. These include:
Sheet A: This includes the WHY I want them to review this. On one side is the name of the area being visited, “Cape Perpetua,” and the header, “What Hike is Best for Me?” The other side includes large text, “The attached documents were created to help you make a well-informed decision about the two hike options at Cape Perpetua. Please, review them. Thank you! – Trip Leader, Mark”
Sheet B: Has information on the SHORTER hike; on one side is a high-quality map showing elevation lines and the route. Included is information about the duration, elevation gain, length, and a description. This is the suggested hike for travelers who want a more relaxed experience, can look for whales along the coast, enjoy photographing the scenery, and see old-growth in a temperate rainforest. The other side has a full-color image of one of an area we will be visiting.
Sheet C: Has information on the LONGER hike; on one side is a high-quality map showing elevation lines and the route. Included is information about the duration, elevation gain, length, and a description. This is the suggested hike for those who want to explore the heart of a temperate rainforest, see lots of old-growth, and get their heart pumping with a gain of 1,000 feet. The other side has a full-color image of the hike.