We Trek Leaders Are Tired Of Your Constant Interrogation
Nothing spells annoying more than a jittery participant on the trail.
Picture this. You’re out hiking on a forest trail with one of your favourite adventure clubs. It’s a trail you’re extremely familiar with, one that you’ve been going to for the past 10 years. You literally know it like the back of your hand, and could easily make your way out of the forest from any point inside. Like all treks in the past, you’ve come totally prepared for it, carrying all the essential items and training sufficiently well. Everything’s pretty much the same, except for one thing. This time something’s totally different from the gazillion times you’ve done this trail.
This time you’re not there as a participant. You’re there as a Trek Leader.
You feel the full extent of the culture shock as a ‘Trek Lead’ for someone who’s been trekking for years together, passively as a participant. All of a sudden, you’ve had to put on your big boy boots as an organizer and actually look out for the team.
This time, everything’s radically different.
You have to support people, take care of all their needs, and ferry them in and out of the jungle without any major slip ups. There’s accountability and responsibility added to the usual ‘patience’ and ‘perseverance’ involved with trekking. You need to ensure all your ammunition is in order before taking participants into the forest as a trek leader. Your people skills, communication skills, resourcefulness, courage, determination and honesty, along with a little bit of sharp wit, street smarts and diplomacy will all come in handy and form an integral part of your mental arsenal during treks as an organizer.
But there’s only so much you can do as an organizer in front of someone hell-bent on eating your brains right in the middle of the jungle. Many a time, a handful of participants would be on their very first trek, or would come totally unprepared. And as most trek leaders well know, an unprepared body makes for the noisiest mind. And sometimes it’s not even the untrained ones doing all the constant chattering. Sometimes, it’s just how someone’s personality actually is. Noisy and talkative.
Such people are hell-bent on constantly chattering and disturbing the silence of the forest. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Personal freedom and rights and all you see.
As a participant, when you come to the trail totally unprepared, your tired personality comes out. This isn’t you talking. Instead, it’s the weary, sleep-deprived and untrained part of you that is. Had you trained well for the trek, you’d be enjoying it like everyone else, busy absorbing all that the jungle has to offer. Instead, you’re huffing and puffing, lagging behind, and ruining the experience for everyone with your constant groaning.
Here are some questions that we trek leaders are sick and fed up with hearing:
When will we reach our campsite for the day?
The number one question on my list is of course the most annoying one of all. It’s also the most frequently asked question on a trek.
Certain trekkers who don’t come prepared for the trek coil themselves like snakes around the organizer's neck, restricting their ability to manage the team by hogging all their mental resources for themselves. They’ll constantly irritate the organizer with questions about the distance and time for the campsite, what time will we be pitching our tents, when will we be having dinner, what will we be having for dinner, and so on and so forth. It’s quite obvious that these people haven’t trained for the trek one bit, and are raring to rest their tired muscles and get some relief from the continuous climbing.
When will we be taking a break again?
It’s clear as day that the participants asking this question haven’t trained for the trek, and are somehow managing to pull through from one rest point to another.
Every step of theirs is heavy and laborious. They risk holding the entire group back by lagging behind and constantly requesting for breaks. We organizers have certain break points in mind which we do not reveal to the participants in order to motivate them to push themselves as much as they can. When we get to those points, we’ll tell you. You don’t have to constantly annoy us about it every 5 minutes.
When do we reach the highlight of the trek: Rock formation/viewpoint/waterfall?
As organizers, it immediately becomes obvious to us that the participants repeatedly asking this question have only come to check out the attractions on the trail, and not for the trek itself.
They’ve signed up by looking at pictures of the star attraction on the marketing flyer or Instagram page, and have only come to see those things in particular. They have no interest in trekking as far as fitness, exploration, and adventure is concerned. They do not feel the ‘trekkers high’. Or rather, they are not interested in feeling it.
Every thorny bush, river crossing, and steep climb is arduous and insurmountable for them. They flinch at the slightest inconvenience. It’s either too cold, or the flies and mosquitoes are always biting them, the sun is too hot, the grass is too itchy, or it’s too dark to be trekking this late into the evening. They are tourists in every sense of the word.
It becomes clear that someone’s not in it for the adventure and thrill of the activity itself, and has only come to check off the highlight of the trek from their bucket list.
When will we be exiting the jungle? When will we reach the city? When exactly will I be reaching my house?
As you might have guessed, these questions are posed on the second day of the trek as we’re making our way out of the jungle. Nevertheless, the second or third day is a day of trekking as well, and not a day when we’re “exiting the jungle”.
I mean, if you’re only going trekking to “exit the jungle”, then why go at all?
Don’t be surprised. These questions can begin at breakfast time and go even all the way till lunch. After lunch, even the seasoned trekkers will be talking about it anyway. But as a trek leader, you’ve already been fielding these questions from the newbies since morning and your brains are already fried.
The answer about exit concerns is pretty much the same as the one for campsite concerns. We’ve already mentally mapped out the entire day in front of us. During the course of the day, if we notice that we’re going too slow to make it out of the forest on time, we’ll gladly let you know. As a participant, you do not have to take it upon yourself to plan the group’s exit right from the beginning of the day itself. Allow the organizers to do their job.
The second day of trekking is still very much a trek deep inside the jungle, even if you happen to be exiting it. And you need to enjoy it as such. We still have many adventurous technical sections to cross and attractions to see on the way out.
Our actual exit from the forest begins once we’ve completed our last halt for the day, whether that be a viewpoint, a cave, a pool, a waterfall, or the last water point on the trail.
Unprepared and newbie trekkers stick to the organizers like leeches and suck the lifeblood out of them. As an organizer, you must definitely be able to relate to the above-mentioned list of newbie eccentricities. Do let me know the scenarios you faced during treks and how you handled them in the comments bar to the side.