"He who fails to plan, plans to fail."

by Carrie McMillen

So, as we get ready for the BIG HIKE up Mt. Washington, a few of you have asked, “How are we preparing?”

Personally, I am answering a lot of email from our nine other participants about car spotting (where to leave the cars so we can get home again!), arrival times and food allergies. We’ve got a great group of ten who have a lot of questions, but are genuinely thrilled to be a part of the Mt Washington inaugural hike. I’m just hoping their excitement and positive attitudes remain after they learn how early I am making them get up the morning of July 4th!

Other than answering emails, the big thing I’ve been working on this week has been our trip report. Whether your group is super-experienced or not, it’s important to outline your intentions and backup plans for a hike. So here are my 2 cents on what I think is important to document ahead of time:

  • Trip Dates (include departure time from trailhead and expected return)
  • Leader and Co-leader
  • Trails we will hike/ Mountains we will try to summit
  • Elevation gain and rise
  • Water sources
  • Overnight information (where you plan to camp or lodge for the night)
  • Evacuation plan (see below)
  • Emergency numbers (police, hospital, White Mountain National Forest, etc)
  • General hike description
  • Participant’s allergies, medical information and emergency contacts (I like to keep this printed out separately since it can contain confidential information. And then I pray that it doesn’t need to come out while on the hike, because that would mean we had an injury!)
Courtesy of http://www.ellison-photography.com/

Most of you might be thinking some of this is obvious information – why the heck would you need to be so official about it? Well, when you start counting the topo lines on the map (or try the AMC White Mountain Guide descriptions if your eyes are tired of squinting), you learn some things about how prepared you need to be. For instance, from my perspective, Randy will have more of a challenge going down, so it’s good to know how much elevation loss there is and how rocky it will be.

When considering an evacuation plan, I try to think of ways to get off the mountain. Are there shorter trails out? Are there huts that have radios to communicate? Are there toll roads that can take somebody down in a car? Also, it’s not good to split up a group, but if it absolutely necessary due to injury and the group is big enough, I think BEFOREHAND about how I would split them up: keep a leader with each group, keep the strength divided up while having the slightly stronger group do the hiking out and have a designated sheltered waiting place where the first group stays. I consider these types of things because with these logistics already mapped out, it will free up my time to focus on an emergency if we do have one.

In addition to bringing a copy in my pack, I will typically give a hike report not just to Randy for his information, but also to a friend not coming on the trip, so that they are aware of our overall plan. This person is always someone I will contact soon upon return so they know not to come looking for us!

I don’t think a trip report is crucial for when you spontaneously grab a friend and go on a hike (but still tell someone where you’re going) – but when you’ve got an overnight group of ten people (and don’t forget a super-cute guide dog!), it’s pretty important to me to think some of these things out beforehand.

See you out on the trail!



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