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9,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
[WARNING: This is a long post. If you are not capable of reading long posts without getting upset at those who type them, please move along. There's nothing for you to see here. This info will obviously be helpful to some of the folks gathering in Ouray for the Summit, but if you're not interested, please go away :lol: :bigthumb:]

For those that are new to trail leading, or at least new to it in the Ouray area, I figured it might be helpful to have a thread where the more experienced folks can chime in and give us tips, tricks, advice, suggestions or whatever they have to offer to the lesser experienced among us.

I'll be leading some trail runs again this year - like many of you that I know - and although I'm pretty experienced (both in trail leading and the Ouray area), I learn something new and helpful from others just about every time I go out.
So, this is not just me giving advice. I'm here to benefit from whatever you guys have to offer as well. :cheers:

The list I'm starting out with is by no means exhaustive, nor authoritative. I will try to monitor this thread, and take key points from the discussion (if there is one) and add them to this list (and/or change things in the list if need be) with links back to the post so the reader can see where it came from if desired.

* Meet-n-Greet, Quick Poll & Instructions
-Once it seems everyone has gathered at the meeting location, introduce yourself, meet the other participants for your trail run, check them off of your 'official' list, etc
-Do a quick poll to find out what kind of experience levels you have in the group, and whether or not any vehicle order arrangements need to be made (e.g. placing lesser experienced folks immediately behind more experienced ones so they can follow a good line through any tricky spots, etc).
-Make sure everyone knows that it is OK to ask for help (with spotting, or whatever). Put them at ease right off the bat so they never hesitate if they feel like they want some help, or even just reassurance in a given situation. This Event is really more about hanging out with each other in a beautiful place than about 'getting to the other side', and having set that kind of tone may actually help keep the group going since people will be comfortable. :cheers:

* Vehicle readiness (yours and other participants)
Most of our vehicles are pretty new still, and there shouldn't be much need for any serious 'inspections', but just make sure you've done at least a once-over to see that someone isn't riding on bald tires or anything like that, and ask around to make sure everyone has enough fuel for the trip of the day (remember coming all the way back from places like Silverton, Telluride, Lake City, etc). In an FJC, it usually seems like half a tank will do fine for these trails, but I usually just top it off the day before, and call it settled.

* First-Aid kit
Most likely, most rigs in your run will have one of their own, but it's good to actually check, verbally, to make sure....or if you have a good one, make sure everyone knows it.

* CB/Communications gear
As stated elsewhere, it's not absolutely necessary, but it really helps out to have a CB radio when leading trail runs in an event like the FJ Summit.
If you don't have one, it would be wise to at least pick up a set of those little FRS, two-way (walkie-talkie) radios so that you and the Tail-gunner can keep in touch.

* Tail-gunner
You should decide who this will be before leaving the meeting location so that everyone knows who they are, their name/call sign, etc.

* Trail communication
It's important to make sure that you have a good line of communication at least with the tail-gunner. Example: The tail-gunner should know (ask them to fill this role before leaving the meeting location) to signal verbally to you when the group starts moving again after a stop period to let you know that the entire group is once again rolling. Likewise, they should let you know once the end of the group has past any on-coming traffic that had to be dealt with, or significant obstacles in the trail, etc.

* Trail Etiquette
(these are things that you can pass on to the other participants in your trail run to help everyone enjoy a safe and fun day on the trail)
-stay on designated roadways (set a good example for the others that may be very/brand new to this sport).
-uphill traffic has the right of way; try to make room for them if possible. Communicate with them in-person to negotiate passages if need be.
-Loosely monitor the vehicle immediately behind you, and slow down to accommodate if need be, and/or stop to wait for them if they disappeared behind the last corner or bend in the road. We don't want anyone to get too far behind, and we always want to make everyone feel like they are together with the group and that they matter.
-If you need help with anything or need to stop for any reason (food, water, restroom break, vehicle damage/repair, photo-op., or whatever), communicate that fact to the group as soon as you know the stop will be needed. Sometimes, there may be a well-known stopping location just up ahead, and the trail leader might suggest waiting till we get there. If that doesn't work for you, make that clear. There's never a problem with stopping for a fellow trail runner.
-Whenever possible, pick up trash that you find along the way. Obviously, this is not a requirement, but it sure helps.
-Please, do not use alcohol or any other (legal or not) intoxicating substances on these trail runs. There will be plenty of time for that back at camp or the hotel room :cheers:
-Fire/Shooting/Smoking Bans, etc (link). Since we're still in the middle of fire season, please follow all current fire restrictions for the city, county and federal lands that we'll be traveling through during these runs (according to the official message that we just received from the FJ Summit organizers, this includes smoking outside in the NFS, which is where the vast majority of most of the trails around here are located).

* Extra fuel
While I have never needed it for myself on a trail run, we have shared with others over the years. Last year, it was a motorcycle on Imogene. In that case, it was just about helping someone out, but if it had been a large vehicle, it would have been necessary in order to help them get moving again and out of our way on the trail. Again, not absolutely necessary, but if at least someone in the group has some extra, it may come in handy.

* Food and Water
(Note: Obviously, these aren't in any particular order :) )
Be sure to check on the estimated length (in both distance and time) of your trail run/s, and be prepared with whatever you may need (and perhaps a little extra, cause you never know what's going to happen out there) for the day out in the mountains.

* Recovery Gear
While not always absolutely necessary (not many ways to get 'stuck' on these trails), it is always nice to have the peace of mind, knowing you're covered, in case anything crazy comes up.

As for those doing Poughkeepsie Gulch...
Even thought he FJ Cruiser is very capable, and we went up the 'Winch Wall' completely stock one year, the next year, with lift/armor/biggerTires, it was just wet enough that we had to winch up it. Good thing was that two guys in our run had winches, and were willing to help everyone else out.
That just to say, even though it's been really dry for a while, since it looks like we may be getting some rain while we're there this year, it would be best if at least one in the group has a winch, and you need to check with them to see if they are willing to help out if need be. Stress to them that there is absolutely no expectation whatsoever, and that it is completely up to them. Oh, and if it comes to that, you might want to consider asking to take up a collection to give them a tip for being willing to help your group out with their equipment....maybe buy them lunch or something. That's not a plug for myself either since I still don't have one of my own. :bigthumb:

* Spotting
-When traveling over an obstacle in the trail (or one of the many optional rocky spots along the way, if you so choose), make sure that you offer to get out and be there to spot anyone that needs it - or establish someone else in the group that will take that roll if that's your preference. I'm more into recording video of people doing stuff. So, if there's a more experienced guy or gal that wants to spot, I'm all for it when I'm trail leading.

-Besides the spotter needed for when we all come to a large or complex obstacle where everyone is sort of gathered around for a while, watching each other go through, in light of the fact that these are fairly large groups (~10 rigs per timed run), it may also be helpful to have someone assigned to these kinds of duties in the middle of the pack (a waistegunner of sorts), so that they can help with the folks around them, and save the leader and tail-gunner from going the full distance whenever there is a little help needed here and there throughout the trip.

* Attend the Official Trail Leaders Meetings and Follow Official Instructions from FJ Summit Organizers

Here is the e-mail message which was just sent out to known trail leaders early this morning...

-----Original Message-----
From: FJ Summit [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 1:10 AM
Subject: Trail Leading at the 2012 FJ Summit

Dear Steven,

Thank you volunteering to be a trail leader at this year's summit! We really appreciate your dedication to make this a great event for everyone.

As a trail leader, there are several responsibilities that we need you to assume. Please read this over carefully and let us know if you have any questions.

1) We will have trail leader meetings at 8:00 pm on Wednesday and Thursday nights at the Summit. Please plan to attend these meeting so that we can make sure that all of the trail leaders are on the same page.

2) We expect that you will be at the trail staging area at least 15 minutes before your trail departure time, and will be the primary point of contact for anyone in your trail group that has problems or questions.

3) While it's not necessary that you personally have full recovery gear, it's important to make sure that your trail group leaves with at least the essentials: Tow straps, jack, basic tool kit, and first aid kit. If you do not have any of these items, just make sure that someone in your group has it covered. If your group is missing anything, find one of us and we'll see if we can supply it.

4) Leading the trails can be done without a CB Radio, but you'll have an easier time and more fun with one.

5) You will need to pick a tail-gunner from someone in your group. If you have a radio it helps if the gunner has the same type. Leader-to-gunner is the most important communication link on the trail to ensure that your group doesn't get broken up.

6) We'll provide you with a list of people who are signed up for your trail run. We need you to make sure that you get home with everyone that you left with (or that we at least know if someone jumped off of the group).

7) You'll have a few minutes while everyone lines up for the trail to judge people's comfort levels, and maybe discover who is new to this activity. It is usually helpful to put new drivers behind experienced drivers so the new drivers can follow someone else's line.

8) Should an emergency come up, we expect you to call 911 or send someone appropriate to seek help.

In return for all this, you get to drive with your windows down since you aren't following anyone else's dust! This is a fun job and we've had very few problems.

You have signed up to lead the following trails:
Thursday Trail Run: Poughkeepsie Gulch at 8:00 AM
Friday Trail Run: Volunteer Trailwork at 8:30 AM
Saturday Trail Run: Imogene Pass to Ophir Pass at 8:00 AM

We are counting on you to be there, so if you cannot be there to lead a trail, please let us know so that we can fill that slot.

Thanks again for volunteering for this -- We could not do this without your help!

-The FJ Summit Team
[email protected]

p.s. Oh, and...

* Watch out for people like this on the trail :lol:

Premium Member
1,901 Posts
Re: Trail Leader Tips, Advice, Suggestions?

Looks like I will be taking over the 7:00am thursday Poughkeepsie run so be affraid be very affraid, I got my schooling from the Jess school of trail running!

9,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Re: Trail Leader Tips, Advice, Suggestions?

Looks like I will be taking over the 7:00am thursday Poughkeepsie run so be affraid be very affraid, I got my schooling from the Jess school of trail running!
Note taken, and OP updated :bigthumb: :cheers:

309 Posts
Re: Trail Leader Tips, Advice, Suggestions?

Hey Vandy,

Just wanted to throw a couple of things at you from my past expierences (not sure that's spelled correctly).

With a large group, it is helpful to have a waistgunner as well as a tailgunner to help with spotting duties and recovery duties.

Also at your group meet before running a trail try to make everyone feel really at ease to ask for a spot when they are not sure which line is best at obstacles. This will save time with a large group besides all of the obvious reasons. I mention this because you are leading Poughkeepsie Gulch, the only trail at the Summit that spotting is needed for the most part.

You probably already know of these but I did not see them listed.

Hope everyone has a great time at the Summit. I really wanted to go but the one and only person ahead of me in seniority picked this week for his vacation.:flame:


59 Posts
Re: Trail Leader Tips, Advice, Suggestions?

I might reccomend a quick discussion about trash collection, and even though I can't believe I have to (and had to last year)say this...briefly make sure that everyone knows that alcohol on the trails is a no-no.

9,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Re: Trail Leader Tips, Advice, Suggestions?

Great points, guys.
Thank you, very much.

OP updated :bigthumb:

962 Posts
Re: Trail Leader Tips, Advice, Suggestions?

If I remember correctly...
There will be someone taking the TL's on a short route to make sure you know where the starts to a lot of these trails are. If your a little unsure, make sure to get involved with this!

And if I may, Steve...
I would like to add more thin got your list.

Make sure that you keep an ear open to any potential issue that will restrict the amount FUN we are here to have. Be willing to maybe smooth something over before it becomes full blown issue.

Back to you, Steve! :bandit:
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