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It is approximately 9:00 a.m. on August 23rd, and you and four friends are about to set off on an all day hike in the mountains of Southwestern Alberta, Canada. Having driven southwest from Calgary, Alberta, you have arrived at Kananaskis Provincial Park, located on the boundary between British Columbia and Alberta. Just off Highway 40, you turn into the Mist Creek day-use area and park the car. You can see a sign indicating the beginning of the Mist Ridge trail, which you have selected for your hike, but you know that from there on the trail proceeds along unmarked paths and logging roads. You can also see another sign that allows campfires only in designated rest areas.
Since it is mid-week, few others should be on the Mist Ridge trail. You and your friends are looking forward to an enjoyable day walking the long grass and rock ridge, as it is usually dry and sunny at this time of year, whereas a mere few kilometers (couple of miles) away, across the valley, Mist Mountain can be covered in rain clouds. Hiking from the parking lot to the ridge, along the whole top of the ridge to Rickert’s Pass, and then returning at ground level alongside Mist Creek is a minimum eight-hour trip. In guidebooks it is classified as a long day hike, covering a total distance of 23 kilometers (14 miles), with a height gain of 808 meters (2,650 feet) and a maximum elevation of 2,515 meters (8,250 feet).
The weather at the moment is cool but not cold, and the sun is beaming down, beginning to heat the air. In general, the climate of Southwestern Alberta is cold continental, having long cold winters and cool summers, though summers do have brief hot spells. Annual precipitation peaks in the summer, and thunderstorms occur regularly. Hikers at this time of year must be prepared for rain or cold weather. Snow has been known to fall by the middle of August in this area, with accumulations on the ground of up to 20 centimeters (8 inches). Also, the weather can be somewhat changeable and unpredictable. What starts out as a warm sunny morning could easily change into a cold, snowy afternoon. Therefore, experienced hikers will make sure that they have adequate reserve clothing for the rain or snow that could develop. It is also known that temperatures are expected to be cooler at the top of the ridge, as temperatures decrease, in general, 2 degrees Celsius for every 300 meters (1,000 feet) of altitude.
There are a few dangers to watch out for during your hike. If you get soaked crossing a river, loss of body heat may result in hypothermia, even when temperatures are above freezing. Death from hypothermia is quite possible within a few hours of the first symptoms if proper care is not taken. On the other hand, the exertions of walking and climbing will probably cause you to sweat. Dehydration can increase your chance of sunstroke and hypothermia. In terms of animals, you may encounter a bear looking for berries. While bear attacks on humans are not common, they are not unusual either. It is also possible that elk or moose may be encountered. These large plant eaters are not usually dangerous to humans, but they should be avoided during the mating season. There are also some insects to be considered. Ticks can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can be fatal if left untreated. Bees can also be dangerous if the person stung has a strong allergic reaction.
You are all currently dressed in warm clothes, including wool socks and sturdy hiking boots, and each person has a day pack in which to carry those items that you deem necessary.
Part I: Individual Decision
There are 15 items listed below. Before you set out on your hike, your task is to rank these items according to their general importance for a hiker, not for you specifically. Rank the items from 1, the most important, to 15, the least important. No ties are allowed. You might want to consider, “If a hiker was allowed to take only one item, what would it be?” That item would be ranked number 1. Then, “If a hiker was allowed only one more item, what would it be?” That item would rank number 2. Write your rankings in the column titled “Your Ranking.” It is important to remember that the decisions that you are making are for your group as a whole and should not be influenced by factors affecting you as an individual.
ITEMS YOUR GROUP EXPERT YOUR GROUP
RANKING RANKING RANKING SCORE SCORE
Canteen with water ________ _______ _______ _____ ______
Matches ________ _______ _______ _____ ______
Compass _______ _______ _______ _____ ______
Hat ________ _______ _______ _____ ______
Repair kit (includes short
length of cord, string,
duct tape, and shoelaces) ________ _______ ______ ______ ______
First aid kit (includes blister
protection and aspirin) ________ ________ _________ _______ ______
Five sleeping bags ________ ________ _________ _______ ______
Sunglasses ________ ________ _________ _______ ______
Flashlight ________ ________ _________ _______ ______
Topographic map and
Kananaskis Country Trail
guide book ________ ________ _________ ________ ______
Food ________ ________ _________ ________ ______
Five-person tent with
waterproof fly ________ _______ _________ _________ ______
Sunscreen ________ ________ _________ _________ ______
Rain gear ________ ________ _________ __________ ______
Insect repellent ________ ________ _________ __________ ______
Part II: Group Decision
Now form groups. Take a few minutes to examine and discuss your individual assumptions before you begin to discuss how to rank specific items. Use constructive controversy decision rules to guide your decision method and rank the 15 items again. These rules are as follows: (1) Be critical of ideas, not people; (2) focus on making the best possible decision, not winning; (3) encourage everyone to participate in the discussion; (4) listen to everyone’s ideas, even if you do not agree; (5) restate what someone has said if their point is not clear to you; (6) bring out the ideas and facts supporting both sides of the argument and then try to integrate them; (7) try to understand both sides of the issue under discussion; and (8) change your mind if the evidence clearly indicates that you should do so.*
Write your group’s answers into the “Group Ranking” column.
Part III: Scoring
Your instructor will inform you of how experts have ranked these 15 items. Write these rankings into the column titled “Expert Ranking.” To calculate your personal score, calculate for each of the 15 items the absolute difference between your ranking and the expert’s ranking, and then sum these 15 absolute value differences. Determine your group’s score in the same manner. Write these scores and summary statistics into the spaces below.
Your total score ___________
Average of the individual scores in your group _________
Your group’s total score __________
Number of individuals in your group with a lower score than your group’s total score _________
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