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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What's the PLUS in the group name?
A. It doesn't mean the members are older, heavier, or that our hikes are longer. It also doesn't mean we hike faster. It means we do more than just hike. We combine hikes with mini social events and do other fun stuff (bowling, house parties, theater, adventures, etc.).

Q. Snack and beverage share?
A. One of the things that make this group special is that on most hikes, we stop about half-way and have a social event that lasts 30 - 60 minutes. It's not just hike and go home. We eat, drink, and interact. It's not just hiking. It's hiking PLUS.

Most will agree, this is the best part of any hiking event. Click here to read about snack and beverage shares (aka, snack-share).

Please be courteous not to block out others from getting to the goods by sitting down next to it or putting your backpack along the edge, if such a condition appears applicable.

Q. Do I always have to bring something? Can't that get expensive? How much do I have to spend?
A. You should always bring something, only if you will be participating in the social event. If you miss a few times, it's not a big deal because there is usually plenty, but please don't let this be a trend. Participation is not mandatory. Spend between $2 and $10.

Q. I want to just hike and leave.
A. Many hiking groups have events that are like that. Our events typically aren't.

Almost all our hikes include a social event that lasts 30 - 60 minutes, usually half-way. The description of hike events almost always includes the duration and that includes the social event. It isn't unusual for the duration to go even longer than posted. Most event descriptions include information about skipping the snack-share or how to leave earlier, but indicate you take responsibility for navigating your way back.

That said, I always try to help people that want to finish the hike asap for various reasons. Some of the ways are through verbal directions, providing a paper map, and/or by sending them along in small groups with a hiker that knows the route. At any event, people tend to leave in waves. Some leave immediately, after 5 minutes, 15, minutes, or 30 minutes.

Q. Navigation.
A. One of the best ways to know you won't get lost is to carry a GPS navigation tool. There are a lot out there for free that can run on a smartphone (link). Send the event host a message with your email if you need the track for a hike so you can follow it. Also, once you have recorded the route on a hike, most apps let you have it up for display in case you want to follow it another time.

Most prefer to just follow the people in front of them. If you like gadgets, you may find it fun to carry a navigational tool. Map and compass? I don't think our hikes are long enough or out deep enough into the wilderness for that recommendation.

Q. What hiking app are you using?

A. ViewRanger. It's free, Android, and iOS. See the link in the discussion section.

Q. I didn't read the part about a snack-share event on the hike and didn't bring anything.
A. Enjoy, because there's always more than we need and next time you'll know.

Q. I'm not fast. Will I be able to keep up?
A. The event description usually has the pace. We stop to let slower people catch up, but they should at least be able to keep the posted pace.

Q. Should I bring my dog?

A. The event description always indicates if dogs are allowed. People do bring dogs on occasion. I rarely am on a hike with more than two. I've seen dogs that walk off-leash, just fine. I'm not a ranger, so don't expect me to enforce the leash laws. Please handle any animal you bring, in all ways, including interaction with food (snack-share), people, other dogs, snakes, and anything related to the outdoors including poop pickup.

Q. This hike is hard.

A. When I first started hiking, I used to be called "Angry Jim" because along the way I would think, " Hiking where I'm from is just cruising a flat trail. This is mountain climbing. This is hard. I can't believe people do this for fun. I'm never doing this hike again. In fact, I'm never hiking again. Ever."

I would complete the incline and think, "That wasn't so bad. I'm glad I did it." It took about a year of a couple times a week for this attitude to subside. So you're in good company.

Q. Do I need a profile picture that is recognizable as me?
A. I've heard the arguments. Some groups require it. I don't think any of the reasons why you must are very good. I leave it up to you. Keep in mind, that until the association with your icon becomes known, someone hosting a party might not want to move you from the waiting list to the RSVP list.

Q. Why "Scorpion" Jim?
A. The nickname was given by another because I had recently discovered that scorpions glow in the dark under a black light, was carrying a black light on night hikes, had been seeing lots of scorpions on the trail, and had learned everything I could about them. I was pointing them out. There's another one!

Q. Yikes, scorpions?
A. They are even more elusive than spiders. I went on hundreds of hikes and never even knew they were there. They only come out after it's pitch dark, mostly at higher elevations, and when it's warm. Unless you have a black light or are looking for them, you'll probably never see any.

They are small, usually 2 inches or less, and don't move much. They lay in wait for prey. If you kick one, it might run 20 inches. There's no way they could sting through a hiking or athletic shoe. I've never seen one jump and they don't fly.

I was stung on my finger in July 2017, but I was "corralling" them with my bare hands so I could get a photo of multiple scorpions together on the trail. I never saw it coming or happen. It hurt like a continuous thorn jabbing me. A really bad jab. Yes, I yelped like a baby. For an hour, then less. The next day, all signs I had ever been stung were gone. Lesson learned: Don't mess with them using bare hands, much the same as with bees and wasps.

Q. How does Scorpion Jim know so much about plants?
A. A lot of others know way more.

I learn from my fellow hikers, especially Adam. When nobody is around to ask, I use Google Lens. I often pass the time by pointing out what I see.

Before, everything was just scrub and weeds and it all blended together. I never gave it much thought. Knowing the plants gives you a new feel when hiking because you start really noticing the plants around you.

If I don't know a plant, and Google Lens seems to be giving me unreliable results, I might take a picture of it and then send it to Adam for identification. He'll usually remark how horrible my photo is, that he can't really tell, and then he'll give me his guess which is usually right. I'll confirm using Google images, observe images during different seasons, and search up some fun facts to know and repeat.

Then I'll forget and ask again about 5 times before I retain the info.

Q. I don't like to stop when I hike.
A. Socializing is part of our events, and for that you have to stop. We also often stop to let slower people catch up (regrouping) and to make sure they don't miss any turns.

Q. Any meetup group rules?
A. Some guidelines:
• Please don't tag anybody in a photo besides yourself.
• Please remove your RSVP if you won't attend an event.
• Please add your RSVP if you will attend an event.
• Please don't post weather reports unless you are at the trail near the hike time.
Please don't post you won't be attending because it's hot, cold, wet, windy, etc. It might prevent others from attending, that otherwise would. The weather and trail conditions at a hike location can be vastly different from where you are, even if you live very close, or at different times of the day.
• Please don't promote events outside of this group without permission from the organizer.

Q. I don't like (name).
A. Please be polite, tolerant, and forgiving in the spirit of fun gatherings.

Q. Trail Rules?
A. It's very hard to know all the rules, and there are probably some that you're not even aware of. Rules vary by time of year, individual parks, posted rules, and managing entity. The event host or a fellow hiker might say something if someone is creating a hazard, throwing trash around, or otherwise ignoring common etiquette. Don't expect that the host knows the rules or will be enforcing any. Each person takes self responsibility for any activity.

Q. Cross-Posting?
A. Some events are cross-posted on other meetup sites. This is usually done by the organizer of this site in order to increase the visibility of this group or event and to offer the event to others that might not be a member of this meetup group.

Q. House Parties?
A. Various members have been generous enough to open their houses for social events. Although meetup itself strives to let any group member RSVP for an event, RSVP policy for these events is decided by the event host.

For example, the host might only wish to RSVP people they have personally met, only people with recognizable photos, to give priority by how many events for this group they have attended in the past 6 months, or have some other criteria.

The best way to ensure you are able to attend a house party is to attend other events from this group. This group is hosting house parties (private residences) during the summer of 2017 about once a month.

Q. I'm going to be late. Will you wait for me?
A. We'll usually wait 10 minutes even without your notification. This isn't guaranteed, just typical. If you are going to be later than that, I hope you can catch up.

Q. Phone # for any mishaps?
A. I'm not going to post my phone number here, but if you feel that having it would be helpful, message me or whoever is hosting the event you'll be participating in, and they'll probably send it to you. I usually have my phone in my pocket or hand during a hike because I use it for navigation.

Q. Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!
A. Seeing an animal on a hike is a treat. I see warnings about mountain lions at trail head kiosks, but I have personally never seen one in over 1000 hikes. Once, a group I was with came across a lion in Granada Hills, but it ran off before I reached the others, 50 yards ahead. One hiker (Sept 3, 2015) made a video.

You may see some animals. Usually a rabbit or coyote scampering by. Occasionally you'll see a deer, horse, mule, cow, or steer grazing around, sometimes groups of them.

Q. Snakes.
A. Hike long enough, and you'll come across one, maybe even a rattlesnake. Keep an eye out, especially in grassy areas, and step away if you do.

Q. Expectations.
A. People get upset if they experience something different from their expectation. Many events are described in great detail to help set the expectations.

Q. How often do we do this?
A. There are typically hikes at every Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:30p. See the calendar for other event scheduling.

Q. Can I have an event?
A. You can suggest an event by sending the organizer a private message. You should also indicate if you personally can or wish to host the event suggestion.

Q. Do hike difficulties vary?
A. They vary between beginner and intermediate. Since that's pretty subjective, see this link for a discussion about what they mean on this site.

Q. Where do you hike usually?
A. Within a 30 mile drive from Simi Valley, CA. There are a couple dozen hike locations we rotate through, with some occasional new locations.

Q. Does the number of participants vary?
A. Most events will have 15 people. Expect +/- 10 people depending on the event popularity, time of day, location, cost if any, etc. Some events will have a limit, at the discretion of the event organizer. Reasons might include: A rule about no organized groups without a permit, limited space or parking, large groups are harder to safely manage, having to pre-pay, etc.

Even with 3 people on an event, it can be the best time ever.

Q. Does someone carry first-aid?

A. Many hikers carry a small first-aid kit, but don't count on it. Think of this as hiking with a group of friends. That said, it's not uncommon for a member of Search and Rescue, a prior Fire Fighter, a medic, or even a doctor to be on our hikes.

Q. Event times?

A. Most events will be after 12:00p but it depends on the host and day of the week. Tuesday and Wednesday hiking events are usually at 6:30pm.

Q. Weekend hikes?
A. Yes. Please watch for event announcements as they occur.

Q. Lights?
A. Entire papers could be written about lights. Batteries, lumens, colored, focused, dispersed, solar/wall/crank-charging, light/heavy, multi-use, etc.

There is no single rule that is always going to work.

I've heard:
- Cell phone lights aren't enough.
- Only use colored lights only to preserve night vision.
- Using any light destroys the ambiance of a night hike under the stars and moon.
- Use a focused headlight beam to light the way ahead.
- Use a dispersed flood to properly see all around.
- Use the smallest light that gets the job done.
- Good lighting promotes solid footing, fewer accidents, and is safer.
- Hunting for scorpions with a black light is cool, but it can't be done where a white light is shining.
- Lanterns are the best.
- Lanterns blind those behind you.
- Hand lights offer the best control.
- Wear your light at chest level so when you turn to speak to others, it doesn't shine in their face.
- ... there are so many opinions!

Some guidelines:
- If you carry a light in your hand, try not to swing it when you walk because it creates a strobe effect.
-Try not to create a heavy shadow on the person in front of you, as they won't be able to see.
- Common sense and polite etiquette goes a long way.
- Forgot to bring one? See if you even need it. There might be enough ambient light from the sky or the people around you. You can always ask if anybody has an extra.

Q. Hiking at night?
A. We make no claim about safety or legality of any event activity. We are just a group of friends hiking together. Each person is responsible for them self. That said, catching a sunset from the top of a mountain can be quite spectacular. For a lot more reasons, please see this link: Why Hike at Night

Q. Why does Scorpion Jim have so many lights?
A. I like them. I'm still experimenting. A snack-share at night is so much better with lanterns. Mine is cooler than yours. Where'd you get that light?

Q. Any accidents ever?
A. Mostly someone tripping and falling down, getting scraped up or twisting an ankle. A few have had to do with medical conditions manifesting during events. We're no more prepared than if you hiked with any group of friends. Some on an event may be very experienced and even have medical training. It's certainly better than hiking alone.

Q. What if I have to go to the bathroom?
A. Same as if you were hiking with a few of your friends. Go before the hike so you won't have to, carry toilet paper, or ask if anybody has any. Feces should go in a plastic bag and carried out, just like with a dog. Some women carry a "shewee" device that lets women urinate like a man.

Q. Do we do anything after the hikes?
A. Sometimes. See if there is anything in the event description or comments.

Q. How much water should I bring?
A. A good rule of thumb is 1 liter per 3 miles, but bring more on hot days. Hiking stats are posted as round-trip values.

Q. Music?
A. I found that music really perks up social events during hikes and most people prefer it. On the return portion of our hikes, there may be some music as well, but the volume will be low enough that you can't detect it 10 yards away. If music and conversation are interfering with hearing the crickets, hang back or move ahead a short distance.

Q. What kind of people participate in this group?
A. Noting there are plenty outside the below ranges, most:
- Age 40-60.
- 60% female.
- Single/Divorced.
- Arrived in California in the past 10 years.
- Taken up hiking in the past 5 years.
- Educated and/or professionals that work.
- Ethnic backgrounds similar to the makeup of the area.
- Healthier than average.
- Live within 20 miles.
- English speaking.

If you need to know more, look at the photos from past events.

Q. I'm not in good shape. I'm new to hiking. I'm recovering from an injury.
A. Don't assume that condition corresponds to hiking ability. I've seen older and heavier people that easily out hike younger and athletic folks. Some people start out slow, feel winded at the very beginning, and get better as the hike continues. If you are unsure, start with a hike described as a beginner hike.

Q. Is this group a clique?
A. A lot of members know one another, mostly from being in other groups. Even so, I see that people attending an event for the first time will be engaged and included by others.

Q. You have a lot of members. How many are active?
A. The number of people that appear at events is more telling. Since this is higher than groups with a lot more members, it indicates a higher than average percentage of active members. Nearly 100% of those RSVP'ing, show up. See the photos.

Q. Hiking boots?
A. You don't need them. You can wear athletic shoes. But:
- A heavy tread grips better on trails.
- Heavy soles do a better job so you won't start feeling rocks and gravel as you walk.
- Most have a toe protection. If you stub your toe on a rock, you'll be glad you have it.
- Some models are higher on the ankle than most shoes. If this isn't uncomfortable, get it.
- Water proof? Do you plan on walking through water often? If not, non-water-proof breathes better.
- Athletic shoes will get torn up if you hike with them a lot. Do you want to replace them often?
- Men tend to need a wider toe area than women, so a brand good for a man, might not be good for a woman.
- Until you settle on a brand that fits well, I'd recommend a store with a long return policy (REI: Even used up to 1 year can be returned).

Q. Trekking poles?
A. Good ones are $100 or more. I don't use them. Some swear by them. Some just want them for downhill or steep uphill. Some say they help if you have weak knees. Borrow some from a fellow hiker for 1/4 mile and see what you think. There might be times when you need both hands available (very steep ascents, caves, rock scrambling), so collapsible for carrying in a pack might be a feature to think about.

Q. What about insect repellent?
A. We don't get many insects where we hike, most seasons, but if there has been a lot of rain, and sometimes after dusk, we get them. A few places seem to have a lot of gnats or small black flies. I recommend bringing repellent just in case. When they are out, they'll certainly get you if you are unprotected and they've been known to bite right through hiking pants, especially if they are tight fitting.

What's the best kind? There's a lot of opinions. I personally have found deet spray products to be very effective.

Q. All these details are exhausting me!
A. See the question about expectations on this page.

Q. I have a question that's not here.
A. Send the organizer a private message with your question. It just might end up on this page.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Frequently Asked Questions June 17, 2019 2:58 PM Jim
About Hiking Plus January 11, 2018 7:59 AM Jim

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