NorthernVirginia Hiking Club, Inc.

Hike LeaderGuide

March, 1996


Message Fromthe Club

First Aid andCPR Training: Special Offer

Emergency TelephoneNumbers

List Of ItemsTo Carry

List Of TasksAt Meeting Place

Hike LeadingPrecepts

Hike Leader Guide:Message From the Club

March 3, 1996

Dear leader,

On any hiking or other outdoors trip there is always a risk ofpeople being ill, injured, hurt, lost, hot, cold, left behind,or otherwise unsafe or uncomfortable. Perhaps you have yourselffaced such situations as a hike leader. As our club grows andmatures, it becomes important that we address these issues andreduce the risks.

We believe it is time to address the issue of hiker safety.We believe that the following policy statement is a good startingpoint:

"In all our outings we will strive to make everyhiker safe and comfortable."

This implies that the in any outing, all hikersmust feel safe and comfortable.

In order to implement the above policy, we advocate the followingframework:

By taking these steps we believe that we will make hikers saferand more comfortable, and enhance their joy of the outdoors.

Enclosed is the result of our attempts to address this issue.We have drawn on many sources to prepare this material: internaldiscussions, material used by other clubs in the area, and severalbooks on the topic. Nevertheless this is only a beginning; nothingis cast in concrete. So please give us your feedback and let usknow how we can improve this plan! Call Mano: (703) 802-6798.

We have tried hard not to impose anything on hike leaders. Wehave only recommended or suggested appropriate actions.As hike leaders we all enjoy a lot of freedom in this club, andwe have tried hard to preserve this freedom. So you stillmake the final call!

We hope that you will find this guide beneficial.

Member of, the Executive Committee

Hike Leader Guide:First Aid and CPR Training

One of the best ways to prepare for an unsafe or uncomfortablesituation in the outdoors is to take the first aid and CPR trainingoffered by the American Red Cross. The training is called BasicFirst Aid and consists of three hours of first aidtraining and four hours of CPR. The certification isgood for three years. You will also receive a text book, whichcontains much valuable information.

Special Offer: $30 Towards FirstAid and CPR Training!!

We strongly recommend that you take thisopportunity!!

The club's normal policy is to reimburse 50% of training costs.However, as a one-time special offer, the club will reimburse$30 if you get certified any time during 1996! Your costfor first aid and CPR will only be $12.00.

We hope that you will not pass up this opportunity!

Following are the details of the American Red Cross:

Courses are held twice a month; call American Red Cross for schedule.Call Mike (590-3188) for your refund check. Call Mano (802-6798)if you have any questions.

Hike Leader Guide:Emergency Phone Numbers

Following are some important phone numbers:

Weather: Mountains of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia:703-260-0705.

Road Conditions: General: 703-260-0706.

Road Conditions: Shenandoah National Park (SNP): 540-999-2266and 540-999-3500.

Following are the emergency telephone numbers, mostly of the VirginiaState Police. A similar listing will soon be made available forMaryland and other nearby states.

Prefer the state police to the local authorities.

Phone Number
Phone Number
540-999-2227SNPDivision 6Allegheny
Division 7LoudounBotetourt
703-323-4500Prince WilliamCraig
Division 2ClarkeRoanoke
MadisonDivision 4Bland
Division 3AlbemarleWythe

Hike Leader Guide:List Of Items To Carry

It is impossible to say what a good list should include, sinceconditions can vary so much. A 12-mile hike in the GW NationalForest in mid-January requires preparations quite different froma walk around Burke Lake in late May. So use your best judgment.

The leader should also carry, in addition to the items listedbelow, all items that a regular hiker should carry. This is aseparate list, and is described in the hiker guide.

Recommended Items: These are a "must" for a hikeleader.

  1. First aid kit - this is a standard item sold in anyoutfitter shop
  2. Mole skin
  3. Pocket knife
  4. Safety matches in a dry bag
  5. Trail map
  6. Emergency phone numbers for the area

Suggested Items: These are useful items to carry. Someof these items become essential depending on the nature of thehike. For instance, flash light is essential for night hikes.

  1. Flash light
  2. Topographical map
  3. Compass - preferably an "orienteering" type,which is accurate and easy to use
  4. Road map - for driving to the trail head
  5. Plastic sheet
  6. Nylon rope
  7. Portable blaze or trail marking arrows
  8. Whistle
  9. Small change - for making telephone calls
  10. Paper and pen - for leaving notes
  11. Extra food and water
  12. Water purifying tablets - sold in outfitter shops
  13. Fire making sticks - sold in outfitter shops. Theyburn even when wet!
  14. Toilet Paper

Hike Leader Guide:Tasks At Meeting Place

The meeting place can be confusing to the leader, with severalincidents taking place at the same time demanding the leader'sattention. Following is a suggested list of items to help jogyour memory. You are welcome to modify this list or the orderof items as you see fit.

  1. Write emergency phone number(s) on sign-up sheet.
  2. Sign up hikers: Ensure that data is completewith signatures. Collect dues.
  3. Distribute schedules and membership forms. Collectcompleted forms (if any).
  4. Distribute hike information: maps and good drivingdirections. Driving directions should include road names and numbers,exit names and numbers, landmarks, distance to travel to the nextsegment, and approximate time of travel for each segment. Seesample below.
  5. State the preparations the hikers need to makein order to go on the hike. Be firm, and do not hesitate to turnaway unprepared hikers. The list of preparations is included onthe sign up sheet under "Safety Message". You may addto this list if you wish.
  6. Make announcements about the trail: distance,elevation change, hike rating, terrain, stream crossings, rockscrambles, view points, and other special features.
  7. Make announcements about the hike: (This mayalso be done at the trail head.) Pace, regrouping points, bailoutpoints, places of interest, and special instructions such as thesigns used to mark the trail.
  8. Make announcements about driving: Give driversan option to follow you. If directions are complex consider meetingat a more convenient place near the trail head and driving onfrom that spot in a "caravan". Indicate stops for gasor food, parking at trail head, suggested car pool fees, and parkentry fees.
  9. Arrange car pools. Do not pick drivers or assignpersons to car pools; the car pools should be formed voluntarily.Ensure that each car pool has the driving instructions.

Sample Driving Directions:

From Route 28 Parking Lot To Penmar, PA:

Total driving time: 1 hour 10 minutes.

Hike Leader Guide:Hike Leading Precepts

  1. Get trained in first aid and CPR: This is perhapsthe best preparation you can make to meet an unsafe or an uncomfortablesituation.
  2. Carry first aid kit and other items: First aidkit is perhaps the most essential item needed in case of an injury.Other items are listed elsewhere in this guide.
  3. Screen hikers: Your write-up is the first screeningstep. Be precise about details such as distance, elevation change,terrain (stream crossings, rock scrambles, and such), and pace.Try to make sure that the hikers are prepared. Items a hiker shouldcarry are listed in the Hiker Guide. While you cannot guaranteethat no unprepared hikers will hike with you, you can do yourbest to discourage them. Be firm, but courteous. If hikers callyou beforehand, that is the best time to screen them.
  4. Go through the check list at parking lot: Itemsare listed elsewhere in this guide. Especially, ensure that peoplehave proper directions and trail maps.
  5. Mark or wait at all trail junctions:Every trail junction is important! Therefore either wait at eachtrail junction even if only a few yards from the previous junction,or mark the right trail. If you use marks, clearly explain themarking convention to all hikers at the beginning of the hikeand use the mark consistently. Watch out for false trails!
  6. Use a sweep: For groups larger than 10 use asweep. A sweep may be useful even with smaller groups. The sweepshould be a reliable person, and should preferably know the trailwell. The sweep should never leave anyone behind.
  7. Cancel or modify the hike if needed: If thetrail seems dangerous prior to the start of the hike, cancel it!If you are already into the hike modify the route (if possible)to avoid dangerous sections. If you do modify the route gatherall hikers in the group and explain to them carefully what thenew route will be.
  8. Record all unsafe and uncomfortable situations encountered:Use the back of the sign-up sheet. Use a separate sheet for amore detailed report if necessary. Blisters may not require aseparate sheet, but more serious incidents do. Use your judgment.By keeping records we can evaluate and improve our safety policyfrom time to time.

Ask yourself the following questions:

For a thorough treatment of the topic of outdoor leadership werefer you to Paul Petzoldt's excellent book: The New WildernessHandbook. This book is available in the Fairfax public librarysystem.