First, huge thank you to Stephen and Dave for allowing me to participate. Although I lead the majority of my clubs runs and have put together some small events this was the first truly organized event that I have been able to contribute to as a leader/gunner. I learned a ton from you guys and others that may remain un-named for the interest of time.
While i didn't contribute much, I read every post in every thread in this sub-forum. The wealth of knowledge from the old guard is incredible. I took a lot of it to heart and some of the most important takeaways that I utilized for the first time concisely are below.
I made it a point to be the first person to show up at the meeting spot for Chicken Corners. I had my packet filled out for me and my family, radio and 2M on, tires aired down and everything organized on my tailgate. It really gave me a chance to focus on getting others signed up and answer questions. Huge help in keeping me relaxed.
Keep Newer people close to you. I had the newest wheelers in the first couple positions which really helped keep the pace up. When they were in the middle of the pack the group got separated and was not cohesive. Keeping the slowest person right behind you is key.
I truly realized on this trip that CB only does not cut it. Nor does 2M only. I feel that trail leaders and gunners should have both CB and 2M, be licensed on the later and know their equipment. I have a 2M HT that works well at short distances but I need to get an antenna for the longer distance. During an emergency, Daniel was able to talk to people many miles away and relay information via cell phone to dispatch. I only heard his side of the conversation and would not have been able to help due to the lack of range. Daniel masterfully relayed the information in a professional, calm manner.
Everyone needs to have a GPS, Period. weather it is an App on your iPhone (I prefer "My Coordinates") or a cheap handheld or watch. It is an absolute necessity to be able to relay coordinates to dispatch.
during the situation, I was scrambling to write down coordinates that I heard on 2M. I ended up not getting the information. It is important to write down things that you hear on an emergency conversation even if you are not part of it. If there are any questions later on you can assist in helping with clarification/cross-checking.
I only had 2.5 gallons of water with me and feel that for an emergency situation, especially on the more remote trails more could very easily be necessary. In the future I'll be carrying 4-6 gallons between rotopax and cheap 2.5g containers.
While I know that fuel and water are the individuals responsibilities I think I'll always have at least a 4 Gal roto with me.
Extras of Everything:
It's good to have a little extra food and zip ties and wire and tape. It can all be the one thing that make a difference.
Everyone has some form of communication. Incorporating a story about the trail or area is great for those who are new to the area and helps keep everyone awake. The best trail leaders I have had always have a story about outlaws or geologic strata or uranium miners or airplanes to share on the trail.
This is probably my little MO but it goes a long way in the middle of a long hot day. I try to give it to the group first, mountain bikers second and other wheelers last until it's gone.