Qualifying a hike is naturally easy. Depending on our state of mind, we often do it intuitively. Mild weather conditions, volunteer hiking companions and pleasant landscapes can influence our perception, as can our physical fitness, the small energy bar or the hot drink taken at the right time. All these elements are small pleasures that soften the steep slopes. Exit the drops of sweat on the forehead, the slippery stretches of trail or the monotonous kilometers between two viewpoints.
On the contrary, if one or more sources of well-being do not have the desired quality, our appreciation of the trail can be significantly influenced. Thus, a path described as easy under the sun becomes difficult, or even very difficult, with uncomfortable shoes or in the rain. This is a qualitative dimension that is very evolutionary. The challenge is to separate the qualitative from the quantitative. In other words, to separate the walker’s walk from the trail on which he walked.
A few years ago, a trail with the same physical characteristics was easy in Gaspésie National Park, but considered difficult in Oka National Park. This divergent appreciation of the trail was based on the fact that the qualification of the trail was rather a qualification of the hike. The message that park officials wanted to send to hikers was that the most difficult trail was Trail X. At the park level, this can be defended quite well, but across the national park system, it was becoming incomprehensible to hikers.
Ideally, the trail manager tries to objectively qualify his trails rather than subjectively qualify them, so that they can provide hikers with the most accurate information possible so that they can make a hiking choice that matches their aspirations. The hiker will then be able to prepare adequately in order to keep a smile throughout his outing.
The secret is in the choice of criteria that will make up the classification parameters
The Sepaq hiking trails are classified uniformly using an in-house method. It is based on factual criteria such as distance, height difference and travel time.
1st – Distance
2nd – Time
3rd – Leveled
4th – Slope
Difference between the lowest point and the highest point of a trail.
Of these criteria, it takes a minimum of three to categorize a trail into either category: easy, intermediate or difficult.
As a last resort, the quality of the walking surface and the proximity of trailside services can be considered when classifying a trail.