Nervous voices from the other side of the phone often tell us how they want to start hiking or graduating to longer treks and expeditions. And when we tell them about the slight preparation that it requires, the nervousness soon changes to enthusiasm. We thought it would be a good idea to allay any myths or confusion about trekking and write a short note about it. So if you are planning your maiden hike or a long trek in the Himalayas, you’ve hit the right page. A little bit of anxiousness didn’t do harm to anyone. Read on, brace yourself and get packing and escape to the hills from the summer plains.
- Choosing the Right Trek: This is first tryst with the mountains, but unfortunately it entails no proximity to them – well, not yet. This is the time for research. Before getting started, assess your fitness level and enthusiasm, dial it down a couple of notches, and then start choosing the trek or hike (if you are just beginning), to embark upon. It’s a good idea to talk to seasoned trekkers, casual hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts to get a wholesome perspective on the options chosen. But you should use the expertise of an established trekking outfit to nail that one trek down. In all likelihood, they would have been to the trail repeatedly, would have had a variety of experience with different clients and handled various unexpected conditions over the years. It is not a bad idea to sign up for a small group with similar fitness level and trekking experience. Sometimes, it’s reassuring to watch others manage a hard portion and then follow suit.
- Fitness: Do not shock your body with excessive exercise by going on a trek if you peg your fitness level at 0/5. This means, that it is recommended to be reasonably fit before starting out – this willnot only make your own experience more enjoyable but you will possibly be of least nuisance to others on a trip. Regular brisk walks, cycling or swimming can help you get in shape – you may need to stick to a more rigorous schedule if you are planning a tougher trail. Speak with your tour outfit on the level of fitness required for a particular trek.
- Technique :Once on the trek, keep some simple rules in mind. The idea is to conserve energy and not waste it on anything except reaching the summit. Do not be in a hurry to reach. Keep a steady pace, enjoying the views and the process. Do not speed up or slow down erratically - it will only tire you out sooner. The tendency is to breathe from the mouth if you are maneuvering a high slope. Try and avoid this. Once you have fallen into a comfortable rhythm, you will find it easier to breathe through the nose. Taking rest in the middle on assigned pit stops is the best way to go. If you stop too often, it will hamper your pace and enthusiasm and also cool your body down. Restarting each time will seem more challenging.
- Splurging on Gear: Trekking shoes with a good grip, ankle protection and waterproofing is certainly a good investment. Light but hardy rain gear also goes a long way if you chance upon erratic weather. Good rucksacks and day knap sacks should be next on your list. For your first trek, focus on light and comfortable clothing. While there is no limit to spending on gear, start with these essentials. If you are trekking with an outdoor company, they will take care of other infrastructure like tents, mats and a sleeping bag.
- Packing: There is only one mantra to packing – keep it light and simple. You might have the support of mules or porters on a trek, but that only means that someone is carrying your luggage. While stick to the suggested packing list from your trekking operator, but do not pack excessive things. Extra shoes, spare laces and too many contingency things are not required to be packed. At the same time, do not forget essentials like specific personal medication, camera and excess GB cards to take pictures