View Full Version : preparing ahead of time to lead your trail

01-11-2012, 06:09 PM
So you pulled the trigger and you are about to lead your first trail. Right on. What can you do ahead of time to make it at great day on the trail?

Doing things ahead of time will take the stress off of doing them all at the last second. Please share some tips on things you can do as a trail leader BEFORE you start having people sign the waivers at the meet-up place.

Pre-run the trail if it has been a few years. Even if you pre-ran the trail at the leader training event, Easter Jeepers or a flash flood can alter a trail quite a bit. Maybe you don't pre-run the entire thing. Maybe just that confusing part so you have it down SOLID. do it with a friend right before Cruise Moab or maybe in the afternoon if you have time. You can cover a lot of ground fast with just a couple trucks.

Ask around camp or ask the trail boss about finding out who might have some current information about the trail conditions. "Hey Bill! I heard you lead gold bar yesterday. How is butt scratch" this year?"

Make sure you have a trail map. Even if you know the 'Spike by heart, do you know the best way to bail out with a damaged truck? No shame in borrowing a trail book. I borrow a Well's book from Neil Q. every year. ;)

Got GPS? We'll try to share track logs of all the trails so you can reference a GPS device while you are on the trail. See if you can at least get the key turns loaded on your GPS even if you can't get a complete track log.

Know where the trail boss has the crappers, satellite phones, trail packets and stuff? Know where you need to meet everyone in the morning? Are you sure about the time? Some trails start (mighty) early!

All of this stuff can be done the night before the trail ride.

Cheeseman taught me a great one. Arrive extra early at the meeting place.

Just sit there and collect your thoughts, enjoy your coffee and the solitude for a minute before everyone starts showing up. Go over in your head what you want to cover in your morning meeting. Look through the trail leader packet and get the child and adult waiver forms ready to go.

Relax. It is going to be a good day on the trail.

We'll start a fresh thread later on about "What to do at the meet-up point."
For now let's share some ideas on how you can prepare to lead a trail.

01-11-2012, 09:03 PM
Nice post.

I don't have much to add other than I had a blast leading Porcupine rim in 2010. It was a little drizzly in the morning so I guessed some of the rock steps on the trail would be slippery. Having the strap and a few shackles handy made quick work of a few open differentials that were spinning on the rocks.

03-15-2012, 12:07 AM
Turn your CB/HAM on and tune in the assigned frequencies to listen for trucks looking for directions to the meeting spot, or checking in to report themselves running late.

I also like to air down ahead of the group so I'm available for questions while the group airs down.

Let your dog do his/her business.:puppykisses:

03-15-2012, 08:32 AM
Try to find a way to make the trail YOUR trail, to leave YOUR impression. Do you know stories to tell about the area? (Think, Cheeseman and Elephant Hill - hard act to follow).

What do you want to be the general goal of the run? I know, finish the trail in one piece and have a good time doing it - but this can take form as you meet the participants. Maybe you have several guys who just got 80s or FJCs and this is the toughest trail they have tried - then the goal might be, to engender a teaching atmosphere and train for success and encouragement. Maybe everyone is quite experienced- then maybe the goal is to tell stories and have fun that way. Maybe you got a bunch of young pups and the goal is to give them a few TreadLightly! principles, like sharing the trail and being super hospitable to mountain bikers. Whatever, involve the group in shaping the goal. You might even ask each person what they hope to accomplish that day. Kinda like setting expectations. Even asking gets people thinking, kinda provides direction and personal involvement.

One thing I try to do is have a tradition. For Cliffhanger I would always bring ice cream on dry ice for lunch and surprise the group. Usually hot at lunch, so it is a great surprise.

Make the trail YOURS.

03-15-2012, 08:44 AM
People - especially passengers and kids - love my trash collection challenge - prizes for the most trash collected and the most unusual piece.

03-15-2012, 09:02 AM
And with things like the trash-a-roo bags, picking up trash is even easier. thanks, Hugh!