Hiking with 7 people | High Sierra Topix  

Hiking with 7 people

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby Scouter9 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:56 am

I am late to the thread, but want to add kudos to Oleander/Elizabeth for an excellent posting that I know took time to produce! I put together and either lead or "accompany" group trips into the High Sierra and see the wisdom and experience set out in the posting.

If it's not too late to kibbitz, I would give responses to some of the early questions. I think you should organize down to 2 stoves that your group is familiar with, figure out how many boils you intend by plotting out every meal, every cup of coffee, every washing...plus a few more, and then ensure that each backpacker can assemble and use the stove individually. This reduces group gear weight, ensures you have adequate but not way-extra fuel, and reduces the likelihood of stove accidents. Burns from flares, stupid moves or spilled boils can be deadly when the stakes are "high country", and losses of fuel from inattentive cooks makes for crunchy cold food. ;)

I would also suggest that you minimize the number of meals that are done separately, if you want to reduce overall weight. If the group decides on breakfasts such as Oatmeals/Nido/Tang/Cranberries on Day 1, Granola/Nido/Tang/Apricots on Day 2, MH Egg Scramble/Taco Sauce/Nido on Day 3, then repeat (for example) you can plan out volumes and pack the canisters much more efficiently. Add an intended cup of hot water for each person to use for cocoa, coffee or tea and you've got a luxurious meal that's easy to cook in group by splitting tasks and easily-predicted fuel needs. When you've got all adults who can carry "the difference" it may be less important, but if you've got a group that NEEDS to minimze weight, this is the only way I've found to manage the food volume/weight. We do it for lunch and dinner, also. Of course, standardized meals make for an easy split of costs. It can be hard with adults who have emotional issues over working together with others, but also functions as a pretty good "canary" for issues that can arise on trail.



User avatar
Scouter9
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:23 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:52 pm

Scouter9 wrote:Of course, standardized meals make for an easy split of costs. It can be hard with adults who have emotional issues over working together with others, but also functions as a pretty good "canary" for issues that can arise on trail.

Ain't that the truth! I led Sierra Club trips for a decade or so, and in my experience it was the people who wanted (expected!) exceptions from the group experience (menu, packing guidelines, etc.) who were most likely to be a pain in the neck in other ways.
User avatar
TehipiteTom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:42 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby markskor » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:26 pm

Interesting to consider all the ramifications of large group dynamics…RE: food,
Or… Another good reason to go solo.

Sure pre-packaging all lunches and breakfasts into daily communal packages (good eats?) would indeed save valuable bearcan-space and weight. This would be great idea if on a boy-scout trip where everybody listens, but with adult hikers…right. I know one hiker who, for whatever reason, carries 10-pounds of oatmeal along on top of the regular food menu, and another who carried the complete works of Charles Darwin. (Both are admired hikers and seasoned pros too.)

Having played the pre-packaged/ pre-paid/ number-of-campers-along game before, and trying to co-ordinate everyone’s pack size, special needs and individual idiosyncrasies with dropouts and who carries what meal and which one is used on what day - crapola…boggles the mind.
If you can make it all work and satisfy everybody, you are either a former supply sergeant or extremely lucky. I say do what you can do with dinners but…avoid the confrontations and let each one carry what they want. Yes, communal dinners are best, definitely preferred but let each do his or her own lunches; breakfasts I can go either way as personally I distain a big trail breakfast.

Possibly I am getting bit crusty but even on our HST group hikes, we insist everyone in attendance be self-contained with any sharing of gear confined to stoves/fuel/ kitchen and water storage/treatment…and each person is then only responsible for one group dinner package... (Usually a gourmet feast unless Mike is cooking). This way each can then decide for themselves what special extras will fit into their packs. Embrace the canaries! If someone breaks ranks (whatever), you lose nothing ...(well, maybe one dinner).

BTW, Right now you say the group has decreased from 7 to 5, which is a much more manageable Sierra number, but (if history repeats itself), do not be too surprised if somebody else drops out last minute too.
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2047
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:14 am

markskor wrote:Possibly I am getting bit crusty but even on our HST group hikes, we insist everyone in attendance be self-contained with any sharing of gear confined to stoves/fuel/ kitchen and water storage/treatment…and each person is then only responsible for one group dinner package... (Usually a gourmet feast unless Mike is cooking). This way each can then decide for themselves what special extras will fit into their packs. Embrace the canaries! If someone breaks ranks (whatever), you lose nothing ...(well, maybe one dinner).

Of course, that's a relatively small group (between 2 and 6 people) all of whom have lots of Sierra experience and are pretty self-reliant to begin with.

It's when you get a) larger groups and/or b) relative n00bs that it starts to make a lot more sense to coordinate more of the logistics.
User avatar
TehipiteTom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:42 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby rlown » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:03 pm

i'ts all a dance in a group, and you adjust as you plan towards the goal of the trail head. I've introduced at least 5 people to the back country and it's a learning experience on both sides all the way.

It's not crapolla, mark. It is what it is.

Heck, even the stove/fuel planning is important if your main stove/fuel guy falls off the list. In our group hikes, i demand we have two stoves. I think on the last HST old fart hike, we had 4 stoves? So wrong, planning wise, but ok if you're after every member being self-sufficient.

It takes planning and last minute adjustments. Even assigning dinner duty per night might fail if one falls out.

Mark does have a MountainHouse Beef stew that serves 4 circa last decade that you can borrow as a backup.. :D

Don't sweat the planning.. makes it all easier at the trailhead.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5327
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby Silverfox » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:04 pm

Hi Splash,
Four years ago I planned a 9 day trip (80 miles) across Sierra's including a summit of Mt. Whitney. My original group was 7 people, we did a pre-hike 3-day/2 night 20+ miles with significant elevation gains, and I had everyone load backpack with additional weight to simulate the 9 day trip. Three people in the group struggled and self determined that they would not make the more difficult 9 day trip. This may help you to find out who will be able to hang.

Silverfox
User avatar
Silverfox
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:05 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby markskor » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:12 pm

Quick tale about hiking with an unknown crowd –

A few X-masses ago, I was roped into a holiday visit with my brother and a few other couples at his LA doctor’s house. Over a sumptuous feast his wife, knowing my Sierra exploits, inquired about the possibility of my leading a group of their friends on a Sierra, Mammoth to Tuolumne trip…Sound familiar? She stated that they were all somewhat experienced – many had been to a few HSC’s, all had been on some short overnighters…one had even done Half Dome as a day-hike. Since I had all the experience, they asked if I would put together a gear list for all, maybe find/plan out an easy enough route, and lastly, assemble the food. There would be 7 along in total. They wanted to go late July.

I initially declined but alas, too much great red wine made me reconsider, a fatal mistake.
The next day, I wrote to each individual, giving each a detailed requirement gear list – including some pack recommendations, sleeping bag ratings, importance of weight and conditioning, water filter, sleeping pad, stove, kitchen, and boots – the usual. I sent away for the permits on the first available day allowed and to my surprise we succeeded in grabbing a week permit that seemed to work for all – July 30. I then asked them if anybody had specific food requirements, allergies, anything I should know before buying all the stores. Being as they were all MD’s and well off financially, they said wanted the best for morning and evening meals – they said freezer bag dinners (boil-n-bag) were great (even named a few types that they had previously enjoyed) and also maybe some freezer bag breakfasts too and/or cereal with fruit. They said they would each take care of their own lunches, and said money was really no object (within reason), so I assembled what I thought was a good (and expensive) Freezer bag type menu. I would subsequently repack all intending to lose as much extra cardboard and weight as possible in the process. Much like stated above, I packaged it all up in 14 separate packages (7 dinner packages, each feeding 7) and the same thing for breakfast. I thought I was all set food-wise.

Two months before the trip, one of the couples dropped out but another single friend of my brother signed up – So I repacked all – now set for 6. One of the couples then mentioned they were allergic to peanuts – had bought a Tai peanut dish on a recommendation – soon repacked and replaced that with the famous (well-traveled) beef stew. Then someone mentioned they were lactose intolerant – lose the nido/cereal…repack again. Another person also mentioned something about being a Vegan. ARGH! Lastly, one lady said that she could not eat oatmeal and that dried fruit gave her hives.

Late June rolled around and another couple dropped out – go figure…so I repacked everything again for 4. Finally, the week before the scheduled trip, my brother decided he could not make it as something came up suddenly. The trip was now off…sorry Bro.

So there I was – money spent and not re-paid, packaged food for 7, er 6, now 4, permit for 7 in hand, and a party of one.
Been there and lesson learned.

...or why I am now self-contained and solo.
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2047
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby oleander » Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:09 pm

Markskor,

Good cautionary tale!

Among my wider circle of friends are a lot of work-hard, play-harder types. (Perhaps like the doctors you met.) They are always busy, and always up for the next weekend adventure. Kayak trip? Sure! Just tell me what to bring. Hike up Half Dome! Sure. Ditto.

I'll just pack up right quick the night before, jump in the car and go. Tell me what to bring.

If something comes up for me, I'll just drop out a couple of days before. No harm done - right?

That is what people are used to. Remember - If they have never been backpacking, they have no frame of reference. They think backpacking will be exactly like any other easily organized outdoor adventure might jump into on a regular basis at the last minute and with little preparation.

I guess I have learned that when up against that preconception, I need to tell people, over and over...

* It is A Lot of Work - for both you and me. A lot more work than you might imagine, to assemble all this.

* You might have to give up a few other weekend adventures. Just to spend those weekends getting ready for THIS adventure. Really. If you think this might stress you out or make you feel resentful, or if you think you might procrastinate and not get it done when you need to, please seriously consider not signing up. It will save everyone a lot of stress.

* You are going to cut me a check two months in advance, so I can start buying supplies. (If you drop out later, you will not get this money back.) In fact, if you drop out after that point, you are possibly going to cause me, your partner, and other trip leaders an insane amount reorganizing work, just to reappoint equipment and food originally meant for you. Do not consider committing to the trip if there is a substantial chance you will indeed have to drop out.

* You are going to clear some days in your calendar (including a weekend or two several weeks in advance of the trip) to get ready for your trip - to make purchases, test your shoes, etc. etc.

Of course I am speaking of working with noobies. A trip with experienced and self-reliant backpackers is another story entirely.

It's also not a bad idea to relate stories (to the noobs) that illustrate how we regularly mess up, ourselves, even as experienced backpackers. For instance, I once showed up for a trip in Tahoe - without my sleeping bag. That one forgotten item caused a huge hassle for all involved. You have to be vigilant about assembling the items, checking and double-checking. Everyone else on the trip is dependent on your vigilance. Nobody wants to spend the half-day of their permitted wilderness trip traipsing around a town, looking to buy or rent that which they left at home - while the rest of the group sits around resentfully in the car waiting for you.

- Elizabeth
User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby Scouter9 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:20 am

Marksor, that route and menu sound fantastic! Will you set one up for me, too! Seriously, everything sounded great, even as I read and the alarm bell of experience went of with the notation that you were fronting the money... At least you got a good story out of it! As Elizabeth posted below you, the group-organizer's mantra has to be "non-refundable deposits".

I've also learned the hard way and now think it's not hard to simply explain: "things will be purchased, time will be spent, your friends will be impacted if you bail and Princess Cruises has the same policy".

Ahhhh, Tuolumne up Lyell Canyon, over Donohue, over Island, to TI, Garnet, Shadow and out to Reds... 2014 August is the plan for a full permit, 15 persons.
User avatar
Scouter9
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:23 am
Experience: N/A

Previous

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bkoenig, diazwoman61, Google [Bot], ksprad31, MSNbot Media [Bot] and 6 guests