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Winter Hiking Requirements - Adventure Recreation and Risk Prevention

From: Stephen F
Sent on: Friday, April 21, 2017 3:28 PM

Greetings all.

Trust this week has been a happy one for you now that Easter holidays has gone, and daylight savings is firmly upon us.

You can go hiking or trekking, or tramping, with just about anyone- friends or family, another meet up hiking group, or a club, or on your own , or with this group Feet First .

With winter fast approaching, I thought it timely to write to you about some new Winter Hiking Requirements you will need to have on the day, to come on a Feet First Event from June 2017 onwards to the end of October , and thereafter for every winter you hike with us.

The greatest asset an outdoor leader has in my opinion , is sound judgment based on accumulated experience and I have been planning , organising, and guiding many Events or groups of members such as yourself, since this group Feet First, was started in 2010. To date, more than 250.

The ability to manage risk outdoors, leading any group, continually challenges those like me, who oversee, manage, and instruct , and guide members on outdoor activities.

Recent changes within NZ, for tourist operators running outdoor challenges, like bungee jumping, kayaking, and even boat rides etc, have brought about a number of safer outdoor procedures, and case studies where things have gone wrong, in the Adventure recreation area of hiking, tramping, and mountain activities, have shown that a lot of risk is tolerable,  and outdoor activities, such as what we or you do, as a member of Feet First involving risk are used as a medium for personal growth and development, and team building, and for establishing new friends outdoors,  with the wide variety of Meet Ups, Auckland now has.

According to a recent report, the public tends to accept the deaths of adventurers who have gone into the hills of their own accord, it views public safety in activities, led by outdoor leaders/ guides in a totally different matter. It goes on to say " That Society's tolerance of risk and outdoor leader moral responsibilities are summed up in the following statement : Knowingly imposing a risk on oneself is " right"  while imposing a risk on someone else is " wrong".

There are risks faced by people in everyday life that society tolerates and allows them to assume voluntarily . But this is not the case where involuntary risk is involved, especially if the risk is imposed in an organised event such as the ones I organise, and you come along and participate in some Saturdays or Sundays through being a member of  Feet First .

On the Event last Saturday at Huia  , a female member of our group,Feet First, slipped over, on a muddy and quite slippery track , crossing a small gap in the track , which had a large rock in the way, and broke her arm.  Prior to this we had crossed a swollen stream, with the water around some knees, and although assisted by other members of this group event, the said member that injured herself later on admitted not to following my guidelines / instructions . I found out that she didn't use the recommended stream crossing technique everyone else used, and opted to do it " her way " And continued to do so later on...And as a result an unfortunate accident later happened, prompting first aid at the scene, by some other members , and the cancellation of the intended route, and then a slow but painful retreat ,back tracking with the injured member to safety, again assisted my other Feet First members .

Therefore I feel a strong obligation to ensure over the Winter period of hiking with our group Feet First, that we need to be prepared a lot more, than we have been doing in previous years, and as such, I am implementing BIG changes to this winter season of hiking , so you , and I, can experience a sense of adventure and challenge in the outdoor activities we do as a Meet Up group, without being injured, and to minimise harm done to yourself , or others while out hiking on the days you come this winter and even in the summer and other seasons should you choose to take on these pending outdoor safety risk management requirements you will need to have to further hike with this group Feet First which will come into effect on June the first 2017.

As such there will be changes to participating in a Winter Event on Feet First from June onwards as described above, as I feel a moral obligation and responsibility as the Organiser/ Main Guide to provide a standard of care in keeping with accepted best practice in terms of the Event Activity I and those who assist me provide to you as a member of this group, Feet First , and before the trip you attend, you will need to be sure you have purchased, or updated your hiking/tramping equipment to cover beyond the basic approach, some of you have been doing so far.

You'll need to show us or the leader on the day as a new member or someone that hasn't hiked with Feet First for some time , in the carpark that you have certain basic gear for hiking with us for comfort, convenience and safety on both day and sometimes night hikes excursions plus the additional  Winter requirements, as listed in an upcoming Winter Equipment List currently being prepared .

Furthermore, an item missing from the Winter Hiking Equipment List , could mean in the carpark, you will not be able to attend the Hiking Event as it has to become your responsibility to come prepared , and not mine or another experienced member I ask to see what you are carrying, or wearing for the days Event.

Proposed Winter Hiking Equipment will be the necessity to have on your person, or in/on your day back, one or a pair of Hiking Poles for the Outdoors.

Sticks and pieces of wood collected on the day are unsuitable.

As well, other items you will need to have , include a rain jacket or waterproof coat, ( not a plastic $2 poncho ) and a thermal or wool/ merino base layer to wear against your chest/skin to keep yourself warm and insulated from the cold, and not just a cotton tee shirt or polo.

However , for now, this email/ note of intended change to improve and manage outdoor risk within this group for Winter Hiking,  is a basic outline for your interest and so you are informed and can plan ahead now to purchase some items to enjoy more safely the unique beauty of our wild country through the rewarding recreation of hiking in a group here on Meet Up, or with a friend .

It is my belief, that it doesn't matter how much outdoor experience you or I have at the moment, that we can equip ourselves at all levels of interest, and with the necessary information gained from here, and other hiking/outdoor groups you belong too, to pursue enjoyment throughout all of the seasons of the year  comfortably , enjoyably - and safely.

Outdoor adventure activities hold a strong attraction for many reasons, so its my expectation, that this letter may come as a surprise, or even a shock, however some people only think for themselves, and others seek to fulfil their desire for memorable experiences and feelings, and to be part of something far greater than themselves .

It doesn't matter what camp you are in, or what position you take after reading this..What does matter for me, as your Organiser here on Feet First is a moral responsibility based on my accumulated years of hiking done, and your outdoor safety in the Events I lead .

Can you think about what's in your back pack to help you in an emergency ?

Would you like to help yourself, and me too ...and the group you are in buying a hiking pole ?

They help ..anyone at any age...ease pain in your lower back, your knees too, and keep you upright..and focus on slippery muddy tracks, and make you confident walking down hill..

So one last thought...

When was the last time you went into a outdoor shop or bought something new online for the weather changes that are happening right now as you read this ..?

Lastly, thanks for reading this very important message...and my apologies if English is not your first language ...for my kiwi language...I'm just the messenger .

Let's review this together in the coming weeks and email me or phone me if you wish .

Have a happy weekend hiking if you are doing that...and I will see some of you on Anzac Day at Piha.

Kia Kaha .

Kind thoughts .

Stephen French

Organiser / Main Guide - Feet First Guided Hiking .







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