We all have different reasons for loving to hike — to appreciate the beauty of nature, enjoy the camaraderie of fellow hikers, and sometimes to challenge ourselves with new adventures. When participating in SMHC hikes, we want everyone to have fun and enjoy the hiking experience. But of primary concern is to ensure that everyone stays safe on their outing. With these thoughts in mind, hikers are responsible for following these guidelines:
- Evaluate the overall difficulty of the hike and be confident that you can complete it comfortably and within a reasonable amount of time. Only you can assess your own physical capabilities and decide if the hike is right for you. Be sure to see questions to ask yourself under Evaluating the difficulty of a hike.
- If you have registered for a hike but later determine that you cannot attend, cancel your registration at smhclub.org as soon as possible, or contact the hike leader directly. You might be taking up a slot that keeps someone else from attending.
- Always arrive at trailheads or car-pool meeting locations, ready to leave, on time if not early.
- The hike leader is the leader, and that’s who everyone listens to.
- Communicate with the hike leader if you need to leave the group for any reason.
- Stop and regroup at all trail junctions, no exceptions.
- If there’s a long distance between junctions, the hike leader will determine intermediate stopping points ahead of time.
- The hike leader will let you know if there are any other stopping points - difficult sections, such as creek crossings or areas involving climbing over obstacles; special points of interest.
- If you are separated from the main group, pause and think about the safest and most secure way to reconnect. Don’t make assumptions.
- All hikers are expected to abide by the SMHC’s Code of Conduct and treat fellow hikers with respect. You can find SMHC’s Code of Conduct here.
- All hikers are expected to follow "leave no trace" principals and all rules and regulations of the trail or wilderness area visited.
Don’t forget that a group hike is not a solo hike. Courtesy and consideration for the entire group is key to everyone having a safe and enjoyable time.
Evaluating the difficulty of a hike:
You should evaluate the overall difficulty of the hike and be confident that you can complete it comfortably and within a reasonable amount of time. Only you can assess your own physical capabilities and decide if the hike is right for you. Be sure to take the following into consideration.
- Distance: How many miles are you able to hike? While it’s good to try to increase your endurance, you may not want to embark on a 12 mile hike if you’ve only ever hiked 5.
- Terrain: What is the condition of the trail? Does it have a soft footbed or will you be scrambling over rocks? Will there be stream crossings and, if so, how deep? You can find a lot of information on trails online, in a number of publications, or by talking to fellow hikers.
- Elevation: Does the trail involve steep climbs? It doesn’t take a great change in elevation to significantly increase a hike’s difficulty. An elevation change of 300 feet over a mile may not sound like much. But if you have to do that for 3-4 miles straight, it can be challenging.
- Timing: The season and its accompanying weather can greatly affect trail conditions. The higher the elevation in the winter, the more likely you are to encounter snow and ice. Recent rains can significantly impact the difficulty of stream crossings. And remember that winter hiking hours can be much shorter than summer ones - no-one wants to get stuck in the woods after dark.