A prominent member of the club and former Chairman, Alan Parsons, wrote an article for the club on hiking etiquette, which is just as relevant today, as it was when it was written some 10 years ago. I have reproduced much of it below, with a few minor changes.
The Bokmakierie Hiking Club has an enviable record to date of only one or two major mishaps where members have broken or badly sprained a limb whilst out hiking. Fortunately, these incidents were dealt with efficiently, with no long-term damage done.
We need, however, to constantly be aware that accidents can, and do, happen, and the question to ask ourselves is how prepared are we to deal with an emergency situation?
Our membership comprises some fit, experienced hikers, as well as a number of not-so- fit, or experienced, ones. We need to accommodate the needs of everyone, which can be quite difficult.
The following guidelines have been prepared so that every member can enjoy hiking, making the outings as pleasant, stress-free and relaxing as possible.
The Hike Leader
The duties of the hike leader are widespread. For this reason, the hike leader is appointed by your committee for each hike, from those members participating. The leader is always an experienced hiker and is frequently a member of the committee.
It is the duty of each hike leader to attend to the following items before the hike starts:
After the hike
- Establish if all members participating on the hike have transport to the venue. If not, the hike leader will try to arrange a lift for them with other members going. It is a wise precaution to supply each vehicle travelling to a hike venue with the cell phone numbers of other people going on the hike. This allows anyone with a problem to let the rest of the group know what the situation is.
- Make sure that at least one person in each vehicle has a road map, directions or GPS coordinates to the hiking venue.
- Make sure that club charcoal is being taken to the hike, if this is deemed necessary.
- If members decide to do a team effort for one or some of the meals, the hike leader has to ensure that all the necessary ingredients arrive at the venue.
- The hike leader should check what facilities are available at the venue beforehand, to ensure that members bring adequate heating and lighting equipment.
- When everyone has arrived at the venue, the hike leader checks with members which hike or hikes will be walked the following day. If more than one hike will be walked (ie if there will be more than one group walking independently of each other), the hike leader must ensure that at least two experienced hikers are included in each group - one to lead, and one to bring up the rear. The smallest group to hike any route should be four hikers. This is in order to avoid both the hiker who has had a mishap, and the hiker going for help, being alone. On no account should individuals hike on their own. This places, not only themselves, but also the people who would have to come to their assistance in the case of a problem, in jeopardy. The hike leader should stress the importance of the group members staying in touch with each other during the hike. The faster hikers should stop and wait for the slower ones to catch up every few kilometres or at least every hour. This keeps the group in more of a cohesive unit, rather than a collection of individual hikers, who may end up getting lost or cut off from the faster hikers. There should be a "sweeper" at the rear of the group to assist any stragglers.
- What each member of a group carries on a hike is really their own affair. It is essential, however, that each member makes sure that they themselves carry sufficient water for the hike. A minimum of two litres per hiker is recommended.
- Each hiker should wear a hat, carry a whistle, and know the signs for "help" and distress, namely two long blasts, repeated. Each hiker should carry a basic first-aid kit, a towel, "Dry-Mac" and, if possible, a copy of the hike map (supplied by the hike leader). The idea is to for each hiker to be as self-sufficient as possible. In any event, the hike leader must always carry a first aid kit.
- All members are responsible for making sure that the hike venue is left in as good, or even better, condition than it was on arrival. All possessions should be taken home.
- The hike leader should appoint someone to do a hike write up for the club newsletter. This should be completed promptly, and forwarded to the editor of the newsletter as soon as possible.
- The general arrangements regarding passengers travelling with others, is that fuel and toll costs are divided amongst the number of people in the vehicle.
The aim of these very simple "do's and dont's" is not to provide the definitive guide to hiking. Such guidelines can be obtained from any number of sources, rather, the aim is to ensure that the members of the Bokmakierie hiking club continue to enjoy many more trouble-free hikes together, and to continue to enjoy the fellowship of our group.
Chairman - November 2016