Speaking up on the Trail

A few years ago, I wrote an article about the social dynamics of groups on the trail–how sometimes in a sticky situation there are too many people shouting opposing opinions at the same time, and how at other times no one speaks up when they should. Recent mishaps with weather calls and recovery snafus have brought this topic back to mind.

Remember that, in most cases, it pays to take an extra few seconds to think things through, discuss circumstances calmly, clearly, and thoroughly. Unless, for example, someone’s rig is on fire, or sliding out of control towards a cliff, there is usually no need for urgent action. Step back and explore all the options.

In a spotting situation, there shouldn’t be a bunch of people yelling out all at once. Observers should communicate their concerns through the designated spotter.

Finally, and very importantly, a good trail leader should not be offended by someone in the group asking for clarification on a judgement call or recovery staging, BUT it’s better to risk offending that person rather than risk personal safety or vehicle damage. As a professional instructor, I expect to be explaining what I see and the judgements I make all day long as a way to help others develop their own on-trail decision-making skills. Ultimately, you, the driver, are responsible for the “go” or “no-go” call for yourself, so, in my book, it is ALWAYS okay to ask for more information.

Happy trails!

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About the Author
Nena Barlow
Nena Barlow

Barlow Adventures owner, Nena Barlow grew up in the Southwest, exploring the back roads by Jeep, horse, and hiking boots. She has been in the Jeep business since 1996, providing tours, 4wd instruction, location scouting, offroad event planning, trail mapping & photography, and recovery.

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