Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929



By Frank Been

The size of party: A nature hike is generally conceded to be most advantageously conducted if composed of about 25 to 30 people. However, a party about twice this size can be quite well taken care of if the guide keeps them close together. A group of over 50 persons becomes cumbersome and a guide is unable to reach the ones in the rear effectively. The ideal conditions in nature guiding may never be attained, because the parties are so large in some of the parks that a tremendous force of rangers would be required to reduce the numbers to the ideal size party. In a party of a hundred or more, the guide may reach the first fifty satisfactorily, and by the people usually changing their position in the line as the party progresses, the guide can contact the most interested of the party who will make efforts to be near the front.

Fatigue: Perhaps in guiding, there is no more difficult or important feature than keeping the party fresh and receptive. If the day is very warm or the trail is over rough ground, the people are apt to show the results of walking much more quickly than they would on a cool day or over an easy trail. Some parties naturally feel the effects more than others. Where there is the same trail to cover in either case, the guide must work harder to keep up the interest of the lagging group. Usually branching off from the main trail are other trails leading back to camp. The guides can direct those who are very tired over these trails. This may be urgently necessary where there are small children or elderly people in the party. Also, although the loop trail is the best, the trail may cross over upon itself and at these intersections the most tired may wait until the party returns to that point.

The kind of fatigue most difficult to cope with is mental fatigue, but perhaps we may usually consider that the mental reaction may be contributed to be the physical reaction. By watching his party, a guide can tell when the trip is beginning to drag and when he must inject something especially interesting or call a general halt at some spot where all may rest and perhaps have a general session of discussion.

Length of trip: The length of the trip to be covered in a limited amount of time may establish the factor of fatigue to a considerable degree. A generally accepted short trail may offer no problem of fatigue but on an all-day hike, it is almost certain to enter into the problem. However, the people embarking upon an all-day trip usually seem better qualified mentally, if not physically, to surmount the strain of tramping all day.

On a trail of any consequence it may be generally accepted that a party should be out half a day, starting about 9 a.m. and returning at noon. A three hour trip can quite easily include about four miles and give the guide adequate time to discuss the natural features along the trail. A round trip of this duration also makes possible the inclusion of some special feature of the park; and a goal seems to inject definite interest in the trip.

All-day trips must be varied according to the topography of the trail. An average round trip might quite easily be close to ten miles, but if there is lack of interest along the route as well as at the terminus, it may be advantageous to shorten the distance.

Miles covered daily on a week’s trip also depend upon above factors.

Incidental Accessories: If a guide carries a knap-sack, he may have with him binoculars, magnifying glass, geologist’s hammer, and test tubes of testing solutions. The use to which those accessories may be put need no explanation. It may also be advantageous to carry a small hand ax. There may be added material which a man may take along to assist in putting over the stories along the trail.


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