A Beginner’s Guide To The Art Of Trekking

jim-1Whenever our family goes into the mountain to trek, whether as a family bonding or as trek guide, it is never a dull moment. Each trek adventure always feels like the first time. Even before we could start conquering the slope, I could already feel the excitement and adrenaline to do it. If trekking is like food, I would definitely munch it right away and go on with my day just like any ordinary day.

Out of the hundreds of trekking activities that my family and I had done, I would definitely say that we have reached a level of expertise. And just like food, trekking has a proper way on how to do it. The initial requirement if you want to trek is you have to be interested. And the rest, you leave it to me.

Keep in mind essentials in trekking equipment which should include:

• Wind-cheaters that can bounce off the strong, cold winds, providing some insulation within the layers of your clothing. Next, it could house many knick-knacks depending on the number of pockets in it. Finally, it would likely have a hood that you can use when it is sunny so that you do not suffer sunstroke.

• A good pair of Sunglasses that can protect your eyes from the strong sun rays, especially in terrain where you could get snow-blindness or a sunstroke. The light bouncing off the snow could exceed what the eyes can handle, so it would be advisable to have a quality pair each time you go on a trek.

• A good backpack that features water-resistant material and a design to accommodate a wide variety of items in pockets and compartments. It is necessary for it to be lightweight so that you could carry it around with ease.

• A good pair of cargo that has plenty of pockets as well as a zip system to detach the pant sleeves and turn it into a pair of shorts. It should also be made of quick-drying material so as to prevent excess moisture retention in case you have to cross a water body or get caught in the rain.

Apart from keeping these things ready for your trek, you would have to take into consideration some tips on how to begin your journey in trekking.

Off To An Easy Start

If you are a complete newbie and horribly out of shape, sending yourself out on an eight hour trek through the unmapped wilderness is incredibly unintelligent. You can start slow, and pick places around your town that will allow you to stop when necessary and get back to your car or home quickly. There’s no need to be a hero. It is always better to come back excited and say “wow that was easier than I expected!” than to realize you are six hours from home and out of steam. Practice makes perfect, the more experience you can acquire the more enjoyable the most daunting of treks will become.

amily-catherineTime Your Trek

As this is a beginner’s guide to trekking, we’re not looking to trek the Alps but rather trails that can be done in less than a day that won’t require you to pack a tent or bring extra change of clothes. Pick a trekbased on how much time you have.

Choose The Right Trek

The first step to pleasurable trekking is gauging your physical limits and choosing a trip to suit. Key factors to consider are distance, elevation change and the type of terrain. If you’re a newbie, start with short, easy walks and work your way up. If possible, trek with a companion or in a group with more experience. Not only will it be safer and more fun, you can share in others’ knowledge and skills. Clubs and guided walks are also great ways to learn the basics.

jim-3Invest in Good Pair of Boots

We cannot emphasise this enough! The amount of times that we’ve gotten blisters on our feet or hurt our ankle while on a walk is ridiculous, especially when it can be avoided by investing in a high-quality pair of walking boots. Walking boots will help to provide grip in slipperier terrain and help to support the ankle. Comfort is key and make sure they fit perfectly, otherwise they may cause more harm than good. Pay particular attention to the sole. There should be a clearly defined heel, and a tread made from high-quality rubber.

Navigate Carefully

Unless you’re setting out on easy, well signposted trails, always carry a map as a GPS receiver is useless with no signal or when batteries run out. A topographical map is essential for wilderness hiking; learn how to read it and navigate using a compass. The best companion for a map is a sense of direction. Read the landscape, looking for significant landmarks such as rivers, peaks, or forks in the path. The best way to avoid getting lost is to know where you are.

martinPace Yourself

Enjoyable trekking hinges on stamina, not speed. Expect to walk much slower than normal, settling into your natural pace and rhythm. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Should there be a hare in your group, ask them to slow down or relegate them to rear guard. Trekking at a rate that suits the slowest in your group will ensure harmony, and encourage appreciation of the scenery – arguably the point of the whole exercise. Take regular rest stops to take the weight off, rehydrate, and nibble some nuts – three moves guaranteed to keep you smiling.

Pack Light but Pack Well

Be scrupulous in packing as light as possible, especially on a long trek in hilly terrain. Invest in lightweight equipment and pool anything that can be shared among your group such as cooking equipment. Distribute this load according to the physical ability of each trekker. Take lightweight food, decanting it into plastic bags rather than carrying unnecessary packaging. Also, consider water – you needn’t carry vast quantities if there are potable supplies en route. Lugging liters of Evian mineral water into New Zealand’s Fiordland is simply impractical.

mountainsEat And Hydrate Well

Food is your fuel, and to keep firing on all cylinders you need to eat well on the trail. Always take more than you need, especially if there’s any chance your trip will take longer than planned.For overnight trips, pack foods that are high energy, nutritious, compact, indestructible, and easy to cook. Tasty treats such as chocolate can also work wonders for morale when the going gets tough. Stay hydrated, but if you are unsure of the quality of water, treat it.

Determine The Weather

Weather conditions have a major bearing on a trekker happiness. Rain, snow and whiteouts can transform easy trails into treacherous ordeals, while intense heat is draining, dehydrating, and can cause heatstroke. In some circumstances it may be advisable to change your plans. Check forecasts and learn how to read the weather. On the trail, keep an eye on the skies especially in the mountains where conditions can change rapidly. Beware of rain clouds if you have rivers to cross, and don’t be afraid to turn back or take shelter if conditions deteriorate.