You definitely donâ€™t want to count on somebody you donâ€™t know (other than a guide) for route-finding or anything else that affects your safety. But letting a stranger tag along can turn out well.
Back in 2012, I was planning a March dayhike of the Mountaineersâ€™ Route with RichardP. Richard used to post frequently on WPSMB, and his accomplishments include dayhiking Whitney every week for a year. Somebody posting as â€œHappy Trailsâ€ asked to join us. One of us replied with something along the lines of â€œIf you can keep up with us, you can hike with usâ€. End of conversation.
As Richard and I were preparing to leave the Portal, a tiny Korean girl approached us. â€œHi, Iâ€™m Happy Trails!â€ We both rolled our eyes and expected her to disappear in our rear view mirror before we got to the first stream crossing. She cheerfully kept up with us until stomach cramps turned her around at 13,600â€™. Richard and I summited, and we all hiked down together.
Over the next several years, Happy Trails and I dayhiked Middle Palisade, Mt. Langley, Mt. Tyndall, Split Mtn., Mt. Shasta, and Mt. Whitney (the Mountaineersâ€™ Route in April and the main trail in December). We also did technical climbs on North Peak and Cathedral Peak. Iâ€™m sure glad we let her tag along.