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By Diane Spicer
There are many ways to enjoy social hiking, and each of them has its own rewards.
There are also a few pitfalls to avoid when you hike in a group.
Use these resources to make the most of your shared time on a hike with your favorite folks (a.k.a trail buddies), and skip the drama which group hiking has been known to create.
See if you can find yourself in any of the descriptions of group hiking below.
Each link takes you to more information about that style of hiking, with tips and suggestions.
"You drive to the trailhead, I'll buy dinner on the way home", or how to share the logistics and expense of hiking with a hiking friend.
Laughs and gossip optional...
Note that this is written from a female hiker perspective, so if you're a guy reading this sentence, skip it because it won't make sense.
Guys usually have a different hiking style than females in terms of expectations and motivation.
Be prepared, and be prepared to talk it through, if style differences are interfering with your enjoyment of the trail together.
Romance on the trail?
In fact, there's a book waiting for you: Sex In A Tent.
Animals and birds have known this for a long time: there is safety in numbers.
There might also be some trade offs in terms of pacing and freedom.
Explore the advantages and disadvantages of being part of the pack.
And find the right group with these tips.
Start 'em young!
But keep your sanity by adjusting your expectations.
As well as a few other things.
Thanks for raising the next generation of humans. They have a tough job ahead of them, caring for the Earth.
Now entice them into loving the trail.
And pass along Leave No Trace habits while you're at it.
HIKING WITH TEENS: Strong legs, strong backs, strong emotions... an interesting (volatile?) combination!
Harness all of that energy, and ride it like the wind :)
Start by carrying extra water and food for your canine trail companion.
Group, herd or partner based hiking requires a different sort of concentration.
When you're solo, you can concentrate on the cool breeze lifting your hair off your sweaty neck and the screech of the hawk in the distance.
But on a social hike, you're concentrating on the conversation or on how your trail buddies are holding up after Mile #6.
You have a responsibility to be tuned into your companions.
And sometimes, you'll need to motivate them to get back to the trail head, or to a camp site, before dark.
Not everyone is cut out to hike in a social context, so if you find yourself grating at the slower pace, the longer prep time at the trail head, and the noise a group makes, it's time to explore why solo hiking might be your style.
Good trail buddies can be hard to find, though.
Happy Trails are meant to be shared, right?