Coming on a hiking trip

This page aims to be an introduction for those taking their first few hiking/bushwalking trips. Experienced hikers will have known or seen most of the content on this page. For those taking the plunge to step out of your comfort zone into our wonderful wilderness, this is the page to start. We all hope to enjoy our time out in the bush, become a better member of the team and make everyone happy on the trip, and this will hopefully achieve exactly that.

Cover Pic: Grose Valley from Butterbox Pt

What to expect

When you sign up to a hiking trip you should see:

The trip leader is usually the person who posts/announces the trip and organises everything, from route to sometimes transport and accommodation. There is another page dedicated to how to become a trip leader. In every trip, it is the responsibility of the trip leader, and you can safely assume that:

Essentially, the trip leader will take care of everything bush-related. They are here to look after you and respond to any concerns you may have. Trip leaders should only lead on routes they are familiar with (or capable of), so the instances of incidents occurring on trips is very rare. Some people tend to fear venturing out to unfamiliar places but knowing what the trip leader is supposed to do should relieve some of the fear.

Your responsibility

In every trip there is always your side of things that trip leaders cannot take care of. This will be fully your responsibility and not the trip leader. A trip will only be good for everyone if you put in your effort and deal with tasks on your side independently. This includes:

Trip leaders, like any good people, may advise slightly on it but should not be responsible for it. Trip leaders will get very annoyed (and will seriously consider rejecting you next time) if you bother them on items within your responsibility, or fail to fulfill them.

No-Show / Running late

People do run late, trip leaders included. If you are running late for the meetup time you should text the trip leader and notify them as early as possible. This way alternative arrangements can be made. If you are running late for a train and have missed the scheduled departure, consider yourself to have missed the trip. Many intercity trains (such as Blue Mtns Line) run at 30mins-1hr frequencies and trip leaders will not wait half an hour just for you.

If you really happen to be running late, try make arrangements yourself before asking the trip leader. Will you be able to catch the next train and still make the connection? Will you be able to drive/join a car ride instead and catch up with the group? If none of this works, then consider yourself to have missed the trip. Running late and not contacting anyone will make you a no-show.

If you have missed the trip, do not attempt to join the group midway into the trip, unless otherwise advised to. Venturing into the bush by yourself comes with risks and the trip leader cannot be responsible if you take reckless actions. Trip leaders will also be focusing on leading the trip, not responding to your questions about where you are. Asking the trip leader for the route is also time-consuming and they will often be unwilling to do it on a trip. If you miss the trip, go home, sleep well, and don't be the trouble maker.

Really can't make it into the trip? Trip leaders often understand if you have to drop out but this should be done as reasonably early as possible. This means if you're rostered for work, you should let the trip leader know as soon as your shift is confirmed. If you're sick let them know and they'll also be fine. What's not OK is people who don't show up on trips and never contact the leader on their whereabouts. This is considered a no-show and will get you blacklisted. Do not make up fake reasons such as being sick, as we can easily spot fake reasoning and place you on a blacklist. If you really did sleep over or forget there's a trip, be honest and it'll usually be fine (letting the trip leader know you slept over is not no-show).

Communication with leader

Unless otherwise stated all communication should be through email. Some people may opt for other forms of communication such as instagram groups but you should always assume email communication. Check your emails regularly, at least once a day. Reply to emails when you are told to. Read all the conversations, as mentioned above it is a safety risk if this is not done. 

Emails of the same subject from different people will automatically bundle up in your mailbox, called an email thread. This allows you to jump up and down in conversations. When you reply to emails, watch for who you are replying to. If you are communicating personally, then only relevant parties should be included. If you are adding details for everyone on a trip, or asking a question that others might want to ask as well, then go "reply all". Replying to all allows everyone to see the conversation on the thread and respond. Be inclusive wherever possible, and reply all. 

A phone number of the leader is usually supplied for timely communication. If you need to communicate you should always text the leader, not call the leader. Calling is only preferred when the person is likely driving. Calling on the trip leader for non-urgent requests, such as where they are or where the train is (well as mentioned above you should not ask about train finding) you will get the leader very annoyed. Getting the pieces together in the start of the trip is already a challenge for the leader and you should not disturb them further with calls.

When asking a question to a trip leader, these elements should be seen:

Proper footwear and apparel

Similar to any outdoor activities not having proper footwear and clothing is a safety risk. You will be refused onto the trip if this is not adhered to.

Footwear: Sneakers are fine, hiking shoes are preferred. No high heels please. Different people have their preferences and sometimes they walk bare foot. Good hiking shoes will give you good grip on surfaces and waterproofing will keep you dry.

Apparel: Keep your expensive bulky coats at home. Everything on a hiking trip should be as lightweight as possible. For a day hike synthetic/polyester t-shirts with long trousers are recommended. Cotton t-shirts are fine but you'll get cold when they are wet, and are therefore not preferred. Merino wools are good for multi-day hikes or in snow, and can be worn similarly to synthetic t-shirts. If you think you'll get cold, bring a light fleece and not a bulky heavy jacket. Heavyweight down jackets are often not needed on a day hike and not preferred on overnight hikes. No one wears heavy jackets on a hike as you will overheat quickly. Synthetic or merino fleeces are good, and some can be bought at a fairly cheap price. 

Backpacks: You must carry only one backpack. No shopping bags are allowed as they restrict your mobility on a hike.  With your backpack you should be able to fit all essentials inside and not have parts dangling on the outside- they will get trapped in the bush. Ideally your backpack should come with waist straps- this will be explained down the line. 

Preparing to sign up- fitness for a trip

Planning for public transport

Train timetables can be easily found on the website of major transport operators. 

In Sydney head to or google "[Train line name] timetable". Try to use a timetable and not google map directions. Also check for weekend trackworks in the same website or by planning the trip and see if the exact train departure shows up. There are only 4 regional intercity rail lines in Sydney: BMT - Blue Mountains, CCN - Central Coast & Newcastle, SCO - South Coast and SHL - Southern Highlands.

Try use the journey planner supplied by Transport for NSW, link here. If there are trackworks the directions provided by google maps or tripview may not be accurate.

Packing for a trip

Bring enough water. People can run out of water and suffer from dehydration or even heat stroke on a hot summer day. No water, no trip. A general rule for how much water to bring for summer:

1 hr hike = 500mL water

This means a 6 hr hike will require 3L water, and 8 hr hike will require 4L. Water can be heavy but is an essential part of hiking in hot weather. This is for reference as some people consume less water, and some consume way more. As usual it's entirely fine to mix and match drinks- a bit of tea, a bit of juice, a bit of energy drinks, as long as the total volume reaches this required level. Remember that the amount of water to carry is proportional to the duration of the hike, not the distance.

For winter: 2L of water a day for all trips.

Between summer and winter: this depends on the weather. Usually somewhere between 2-3L. However if the temperature exceeds 30 degrees, consider it as summer.

If you run out of water or not bring enough you will be sent home. In summer this is strictly enforced for the safety and wellbeing of yourself and others. Remember that if you run out of water, someone else will have to give you water which compromises on their safety.