Trek Design Framework
In addition to hiking tours and road touring, Nature Trail offers commercial Treks, which are a distinctly different mode of touring and with durations of either 2-Day Treks or Multi-Day Treks (3+ days).
In English parlance, a ‘trek‘ is talked about as being ‘a long, hard walk lasting several days or weeks, especially in the mountains.’ A trek thus is more about venturing across country by foot certainly over considerably greater distance and duration, as opposed to a shorter ‘hike’ – termed a ‘bushwalk’ in Australian parlance. The increased route and terrain difficulty and exertion required for a trek is commensurate.
In our Nature Trail parlance, we refer to a ‘hike’ as being within a day’s duration and its grade may be vary from ‘easy’ to ‘hard’. We also distinguish our ‘hikes’ from our ‘treks’ by defining our treks by necessitating the following characteristics:
- Multi-day Duration: Our treks are either a 2-Day Trek or a Multi-Day Trek (3+ days)
- Presumed Very Difficult Conditions: Our treks are typically over many kilometres along remote and difficult/very difficult graded hiking tracks in often rarely used and in poorly maintained condition. Indeed, some track sections may defer to rock scrambling, but no bush-bashing to comply with our eco tread lightly principle. Whilst we maintain an easy pace and the daily trek distance kept within 10km, the difficulty involved to undertake our treks requires of each participant a very advanced level of fitness, strength, stamina, trekking skills, gear and experience. Each participant is required to recognise these inherent difficulties and challenges and so to be mentally resilient and personally responsible for preparing, exerting the required physical effort and to be a team player under such trying circumstances.
- Remote Bush Pack Camping: all accommodation is by tent of which each trek participant must assume fully responsibility to carry in his/her backpack for their own singular use, along with all overnight sleeping gear.
- Participant Self-Sufficiency: Each participant must take full responsibility and accountability for all his/her self-sufficiency whilst on a Nature Trail Trek – including (but not limited to) personal clothing, kit, drinking water, food sustenance, remote self-catering, camping gear, toileting and sleeping gear. Nature Trail does not provide for any of these needs on any of its treks. This is why Nature Trail treks are priced inexpensively – we facilitate and lead, but we don’t pamper or sherpa.
- Trek Participation Agreement: Each participant must read, agree to all terms and sign Nature Trail’s Trek Participating Agreement before being authorised to participate on any Nature Trail Trek.
OUR TREK BENEFITS
Nature Trail’s Treks offer the following key benefits to participants:
- Exclusivity: Invitation to participate on a Nature Trail Trek is only extended to previously vetted members of Nature Trail’s Alumni Trekkers – those who are experienced and advanced multi-day trekkers and who have passed Nature Trail’s Trek Vetting Process. [Read More]
- Trek Plan: Each trek is comprehensively designed, and each trip pre-planned and led by Nature Trail’s Tour Director, Steve (an experienced local hiker of the Blue Mountains region for more than 20 years, familiar with many hiking tracks throughout the region. Steve holds a diploma graduate of Outdoor Recreation in the Blue Mountains from 2016 and is well trained in professional design, planning and delivery of treks.
- Reconnoitred: Each trek is recently field reconnoitered start to finish, with a schedule, identified hazards and obstacles, risk assessed and mitigated (In-field Risk Analysis Report) for risk mitigation, a current conditions forecast, safe campsites selection, evacuation contingencies
- Participant Stardards: Participants are required to have first registered as Alumni Trekkers which requires satisfyinhg Mature Trail’s rigorous eligibility criteria and tests. Memnbers of the general public are not permitted to participate on any Nature Trail Trek, without first having first registered as an Alumni Trekkers. This means that participants can be rest assured that fellow participants are suitably skilled, prepared and resourced to tackle the high personal demands of a trek with ccomplete self-sufficiency. This is a strategy to mitigate the risk of participanmts not being abe to ccompplete a trek once started, and so cause a trek to be terminated before finishing.
- Trek Notification: The Trek leader pre-lodges the trek route, schedule, satphione number, equipment kits and participant manifest with AMSA with a printed copy held at Nature Trail Base in Katoomba.
- Group Size: Participant numbers (excluding the trek leader) are minimum of 4 and maximum of 7), so avoiding the inherent risks of solo travel in remote areas
- Group Field Leadership – including remote navigation, safety briefings, welfare monitoring, group cohesion, advanced hiking guidance as deemed appropriate
- Remote Navigation: Equipment (weatherproof maps, Silva compasses)
- Remote Technology: (altimeter, 4WD fited out with remote off-road equipment, HEMA HX-1 Navigator in-car and handheld satnavs, range finder, Garmin tactical Instinct GPS watch, Telstra satphone, GME personal locator beacon)
- Bush Survival Skills
- Wilderness First Aid Skills
The following is a summarised outline of Nature Trail’s Trek Design Framework:
1. TREK DESIGN
- Trek Scope: deciding upon proposed trek’s business fit with Nature Trail’s business purpose, territorial range, policies and operational capacities, trek duration, routes, features, benefits, activities.
- Geographic Area: select a specific area range for the tour and draft a Tour Title name
- Route Plan: select proposed track and road route segments, track route patterns, track legs, waypoints, alternates and contingency planning, limit trek duration to avoid fatigue especially driving durations.
- Itinerary: road segments schedule: and rest/break locations, sunset timing, and duration buffers for delays
- Transport: vehicle type(s), total road distance, refuel needs, logistics (best routes, access conditions, parking locations, car shuffle requirements,
- Tour Equipment: including trek vehicle kits, remote communications, guest kit hire options
- Accommodation: options, facilities, pricing researched and contacted
- Risk Management: Risk Analysis and risk mitigation. A Risk Analysis Report drafted
- Compliance: insurances, licensing and access permits
- Commentary: initial research of likely relavant topics of guest interest
- Trek Advertising: Tour brochure, webpage design initiated in draft form.
2. TREK PLANNING
Following the completion of a Trek Design framework (for each iteration of a designed tour, Nature Trail undertakes detailed trip planning followed by at least two field reconnoitres to trial, document and fine tune the trek offering.
The following list is a summary outline of the Trip Planning tasks in sequential order. This allows us to evaluate whether this trek design in practice will be a quality and commercially viable tour service offering.
- Recces + Practice Trips: at least two recces, one being within a week of the scheduled trip date
- Trek Plan and Variations: itinerary refined, mapping prepared, waypoints identified and Trek Plan
- Transport Plan: transport route, vehicle(s) choice, mapping, logistics (parking & shuffles) alternates and contingencies, checking access/road closure information, providing for the driver(s) and trip leader, driver familiarisation with trek including a recent prior reconnoitre of the trek route start-to-finish by the trip leader
- Trek Risk Mitigation: Risk Analysis Report including hazards identified, assessed for likelihood and severity of injury, risk mitigation measures prepared after each recce by our trip leader
- Trek Leader Equipment Kits: for hiking, trekking and/or road touring according to the tour type, including catered sustenance, drinking water supplies, communications devices, first aid kits, trekking attire for variable weather conditions, benighted contingencies, maps, etc.
- Briefings & Commentary: content of safety briefings to be immediately prior to locational context and commentary content
- Applied Research: undertaken by Steve in his joint roles as tour director and trip leader to build a varied folio of commentary content
- Trek Sales: Process tour guest enquiries, bookings and pre-payment processing
- Conditions Forecasts: – route standard, weather forecast, closures, any known or forecast bushfire risk
- Trek Guest Guidance: reference to Trekking Protocols on Nature trail’s website, what to expect, weather forecast, recommended touring attire, what to bring (touring kit), and what not to wear or bring
- Trek Notice:- trip plan route, schedule, kits, and guest manifest logged at NT Base. For each hiking and trekking tour this is posted by us on the AMSA website
- Trip Prep Checklist: responsibility of the trip leader
- Trip Journals & Recordings: scribed by the trip leader for each recce, practice trip and commercial trip for a given trek.
3. TRIP DELIVERY GOVERNANCE
For each designed Nature Trail Trek that also undergone a completed Trip Planning framework, our aim is then to ensure best practice in service delivery for each trip iteration of a given trek. The tasks to achieve this are prescribed in Nature Trail’s Trip Delivery Policy within its Operations Manual.
The following list is a summary outline of these tasks which are the compliance undertaking of our delegated Trip Leader on the actual day(s) of a given commercial version trip – before, during and after.
- Pre-Trip Self-Assessment: conducted by the trip leader on the early morning prior to scheduled Trip Start: included fitness readiness of Trip Leader, Tour Vehicle(s), Trip Equipment, conditions suitability, no closures, trip prepayments received from all tour guests
- Visual Screening of Trek Guests: good health and fitness, appropriate touring attire, kit and suitability at Group Meetup time ahead of the Tour Start
- Adherence to Tour Brochure and Trip Agreement: adhere to route plan and schedule including dwell duration limits at rest spots, avoid route deviations or splitting the tour guest group.
- Group Field Leadership*: in a field/remote group leadership situation, focusing on small group dynamics, individual tour guest safety and wellbeing, avoiding group separation, delivery of timely and appropriate verbal communications and instructions, monitoring tour guest performance and conduct, fosetring mutual respect and group cohesion, effective immediate management of interpersonal tensions and conflict, appropriate leadership style in time of incidents and emergencies.
- Post Trip Chores: conducted by the trip leader after Trip Finish such as trip log update, unpacking disposables, rubbish disposal, equipment stowing, refueling and detailing tour vehicle, clothes washing, devices recharged, writing up trip journal, scribing tour yarn on Nature Trail website, finetuning tour design, and tour budget, etc.
- Governance Debrief: – conducted by the trip leader at Trip Finish as part of our Quality Development Cycle
- Trek Yarns: tour write up on Nature Trail’s website which is scribed by the tour director
- Trek Brochure: designed and scribed by the tour director.
For each commercial tour offerred by Nature Trail a Trek Design Folder has been created with all the above information listed on this webpage included. Each folder is a dynamic record that is updated and refined after every trip of that trek. This is an output of Nature Trail’s Quality Development Cycle Policy.
*Group Field Leadership is a Nature Trail term that recognises the specific people leadership challenges that tend to arise amongst a group of strangers (typically on a tour) whilst day hiking or multi-day trekking in a remote area and sometimes under adverse conditions. Group Field Leadership is those advanced interpersonal skills, people management and leadership traits, skills and style/approaches required of a professional tour leader under such situations. Often once such a trip commences, it is difficult to alter or terminate the trip without costly repercussions, so interpersonal difficulties need to be appropropriately managed in the field at the time, especially when the group encounters an obstacle, hazard, unforeseen problem, conflict, incident or emergency.