with Aunty Rata
Greetings fellow trampers, I hope you made the most of the great Labour weekend weather to be had everywhere but Wellington! The bank holidays or as we Kiwi’s call them long weekends are traditionally very busy for the Club, particularly for trip leaders who often find themselves with big groups of people to manage for the weekend. With the Xmas trip season coming up instead of recipes I thought this month I’d share a few tips on how to be a good trip participant.
1. Be punctual. There are two dimensions to this, first the obvious need to turn up for the trip on time and adhere to time specific requests that relate to your trip. This may seem obvious but it does take a little personal planning and organisation. If you are delayed make sure you contact the trip leader asap. The second dimension relates to information requests. On every trip the leader will ask for certain information. Having to chase it up is time consuming and irritating. Key information that needs to be supplied promptly includes the following – your Club Contact Person + their phone number, any pre-existing medical conditions or current injuries, any food allergies or preferences, whether you can drive the Club van, whether you have any useful group gear such as a cooker. The trip fare also needs to be paid on time preferably by electronic transfer.
2. Be proactive. Before the trip, and during the trip consider whether you can do anything to assist the trip leader and therefore the smooth running of the trip. Maybe you can drive or cook or you might be particularly good at navigation. During the trip there are always jobs that need to be done particularly in the evenings when dinner needs to be cooked and when leaving the hut. Sadly in the NZ bush there are no hut fairies available to cook the dinner, clean up afterwards and sweep the hut before you leave. Likewise the trip leader does not have eyes in the back of their head and nor are they skilled at mind reading. If you are feeling tired or notice someone else in the party is suffering you can do something about it, talking to the trip leader is a good place to start. You may be fit enough to carry some extra gear.
3. Be prepared. Yep just like the Girl Guides /Boy Scouts it is a good idea to read the trip plan and make sure you understand it. If you don’t understand it talk to the trip leader before the trip starts. Get hold of the relevant map and study the route. Check the weather forecast before setting off. If something happens to the trip leader you need to have a good idea about where you are and how to get out. Also familiarity with the route and weather conditions helps you to decide what gear to take and what food. More importantly checking this stuff out for yourself helps you to get better at the business of walking in the hills. If you are new to tramping or even just new to the Club go onto our website and read the trip information so you know what to expect. There is a good gear list which can be printed out and used as a checklist when packing. If you are a light sleeper you may wish to take ear plugs – the Club is well endowed with snorers! Make sure you know who has the Club first aid kit and the personal locator beacon.
4. Be persistent. The trip leader is not a tour guide. If the plan is not clear then ask about it, you might not be the only person not sure what to expect. If you have alternative suggestions or questions then share them in a constructive and timely manner. It is entirely possible you may think of something that has not occurred to the leader, you may even be more familiar with the area where the trip is running. There is not much value in announcing after your group has completed a complicated river crossing that you knew there was a bridge 100m further up the river… Likewise if you can feel a blister coming on it is better to get the group to stop so you can tape up your foot before half your heel has rubbed off and you need to be carried out of the hills. If you need to stop to change clothing or to eat something or to go to the toilet make sure someone else in the group knows, losing people, even temporarily is generally undesirable.
So there we go my friends, with a bit of good communication, planning and anticipation plus a lot of chocolate everyone can have a fun time in the hills.