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Hiking Hikers Hiking Group Message Board › Group Size and RSVP Concerns

Group Size and RSVP Concerns

Gary R.
user 3396824
Phoenix, AZ
Hello everyone. A member sent me the email below. I have chosen to keep the identity private only because I did not get permission to include it. The text of the email is below and my reply. I get numerous emails regarding these issues and feel it would be a good idea for all to read the questions and to read the reply. I welcome your responses.


The questions:

Hi, I'm not sure how it all works, but if there are that many interested people, why can't there be two groups, or simply why can't there be everyone in one group? Everyone goes @ their own pace anyways. A front leader and a sweep can each take take half of a list of names and do head counts.

What prevents people from attending if they want to go on the hike?
Should guests be allowed to take a space for someone that is in this meet up officially?
Shouldn't members have the spaces and if there are any left over, then people can
take a guest.

Please explain to all. Thanks!!


Thank you for your questions. I have frequently addressed these issues with members individually as well as to the group in whole but I see you are a fairly new member so I will try to answer your concerns.

We limit group size for several reasons. One is safety for the hikers. Though we assume no responsibility for safety, this group was founded on the principal that all hikers are looked after and all return to the trailhead before the host leaves. With such large groups that can be a difficult task for as you said, many go at their own pace. Even with several looking after the group, the bigger it is, the longer it takes for all to finish. We are all volunteers and I for one don't mind waiting a while and many times trail the group to be sure all are accounted for but I don't want to wait an hour or more for those falling behind in the large groups. Yes, I have had to wait and have had to accompany stragglers on the trail an hour or more behind the rest. There are many other reasons but the most important and in my opinion, our responsibility as humans enjoying nature, is the impact we make on the trail and the natural surroundings we are invading. With large groups, a single track trail soon becomes a double wide trail which then becomes a narrow road. We humans forget how fragile our ecosystem is especially in the desert where plant life is destroyed by a simple foot fall. Also with large groups, we impact the wildlife. We make so much noise even in a group of 25, that wildlife is never seen. I for one enjoy seeing the rare mule deer or big horn sheep. With groups of 25, that never happens. Our large groups, careful as we are, litter. Not always with paper or bottles, I surely hope not, but with apple cores, orange peels, human waste, toilet paper, etc. The more we have out on the trail, the more unintentional waste. Our national forests which Arizona is so blessed to have many, restrict group size to 15 on wilderness trails for all of the reasons above. I have even been reprimanded by email from a ranger on the Peralta trail in the Superstition Mountains for having more than 15. Yes, that is a wilderness trail and is restricted to 15 in a group.

It has been suggested many times when a large group is waiting that we have two groups starting at different times. That is certainly possible but having a staggered start of an hour does absolutely nothing to address the above issues. We could do a morning and an afternoon start but no one wants to head out in the afternoon and then even if so, a leader is required.

You ask what prevents people from coming if they want to hike. The answer is simply nothing but their conscience. Do folks show up, yes. We always have no shows from the "yes" group and attendees from the wait list. It is a problem that we as organizers are wrestling with daily. Hopefully we will have a resolution to the "no show" problem someday.

You asked about guests. Actually, most of the guests are members of the group. Usually they are the spouse or significant other of the member who has RSVP'd. Both are members but only one will RSVP instead of both logging in to do so. In some cases the "member" is a couple. They must RSVP +1 since they will count only as one otherwise.

I hope I have answered your questions. Group size and no shows are one of our most challenging issues. We need more hikes to different locations every weekend. Having multiple destinations has helped in the past but our organizers are busy with their own lives and from time to time, we end up with only one hike on a given Saturday. Should you ever want to lead a hike, we always welcome members to submit a description of the hike and host it. You can send that description and request to any one of our leadership team. We always welcome the help.

Thank you gain for your questions and your participation in the HHH.

Gary Rossiter
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