Trekking for the first time?
For most of us, the anticipation of a trekking trip is as exciting as the trek itself, especially for the first time. And why not! Which other activity promises you adventure, indulgence with nature, discovery & exploration of new destinations, physical challenges, meeting new people, making friends, understanding new cultures and through it all – discovering a new rejuvenated self. Trekking is one of those few experiences, that opens up not just your heart but also the lungs and your mind.
“Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”
And while the above are real & pleasant facts around trekking, it is also true that the most beautiful trekking trips can turn sour if one forgets to prepare a bit beforehand.
An ankle sprain, a muscle pull, sore muscles, chronic injury, fatigue can all prove to be painful on one hand, and a kill joy on the other as they adversely affect your trip schedule and plan. Indulging in some preparation beforehand goes a long way in ensuring that you are able to avoid the most common problems that one may face.
And while experience will soon make you a pro at such expeditions, here are a few tips for the beginners planning their first trekking trip:-
- Start Walking
Really? I mean, who doesn’t walk! While walking is one of the simplest activities and a part of our everyday life, just walking room-to-room in your home or your workplace doesn’t compare a bit with the amount of walking required in a trekking trip which numbers in several kilometres a day. Hence, the very first step in the preparation is to start taking long walks every day, morning or evening whenever possible. Begin with short walks, and gradually increasing the distance over a period of two-three weeks till you can comfortably walk for around two hours at a stretch.
- Strengthen your body, especially legs
We’ll come to the eating part, but focusing on the strength building part through physical activity, start playing a favourite sport of your choice that involves running, sprinting, jumping or hopping to build those leg muscles. You may also visit a gym if possible, to indulge in some equipment training for focused strength building, or doing compound exercises like squats and lunges.
If you are taking up jogging as a training activity, try slightly rough & rocky terrains to accustom your feet to uneven surfaces. This will prove to be of great benefit.
- Eat well and hydrate your body
If you are a healthy eater, you are good to go with some added focus on proteins and essential nutrients just weeks before the trip. If not, then make sure that you start having highly nutritious, protein and vitamin-rich meals inclusive of fresh fruits and vegetables, at least a month ahead of the trip. Also start hydrating your body well by drinking lots of water, fresh fruit juice and coconut water. If your body is well prepared, you are sure going to make the best out of the trip.
- Adequate Footwear
While buying a pair of new, good quality shoes for the trip is a great idea, wearing them for the first time in your much–awaited, much important journey is not. New shoes that your feet are not accustomed to may cause blisters when you walk long distances, causing pain and adversely affecting your experience. Start using your new set for your training & exercising routines so that they’re worn well enough, and the risk of blisters and shoe bites is avoided.
Always research your list of destinations thoroughly to ensure that you’re your trip is safe, responsible and meaningful. The most important points to research beforehand are the climate & situation of the destination, local culture, local facilities & points of contact, food & accommodation availability, traveler help-lines, experiences of previous travellers, available modes of transport, alternate routes, etc.
As a trekker, researching and understanding the local culture of your destinations goes a long way in ensuring that you enjoy the support and help of the local people in general and well as sticky situations. More so, you end up striking a pleasant chord and sometimes making great friends too. Remember, ‘a good relationship is about two things: first, appreciating the similarities, and second, respecting the differences.’
- Prepare a Schedule
Always prepare a well-planned schedule for your trekking adventure keeping the climate and situation of the destination in mind. Also do share it with at least one family member, friend or a relative so that they can reach you just in case you’re stuck & need help.
- Pack the Essentials
This list comprises of few core essentials, and some items which may vary as per the type of destinations being covered. Depending on your plan, do not forget to pack:
- Hooded jacket
- Hooded rain-gear
- Sweater, hat & gloves
- Running shoes
- Trekking boots (waterproof)
- Personal first-aid kit
- Tablets to purify the water
- Toilet kit (with towel, soap, toilet paper)
- Water bottle
- Torch (with extra cells)
As the above tips cover the basics in trekking preparation, as a first time trekker you are good to go. Also some effort invested in preparation goes a long way in ensuring that you are inherently confident and have a relaxed fun-time during your entire trekking experience!