If you’re a beginner to trekking, here are 10 trekking tips that should help you prepare for your first trek! And even if you’re experienced, it’s never too late to brush up on some information.
Trekking Tip 1: Double check everything.
Equipment matters. You don’t want to be out on a hike, and when you need something important, you don’t have it. It can be the difference between life and death. Trekking usually takes place in remote locations, where facilities are scarce, so there’s a good chance you won’t find what you’re looking for.
Even if it is available, why would you want to waste money and buy something you already have?
Trekking Tip 2: If hit by AMS, descend.
Mountains can be your best friend, but also your worst enemy. Acute Mountain Sickness hits when you don’t acclimatise properly. Presuming you’re past the point of acclimatising and are already facing symptoms of altitude sickness, the best solution is to descend. While Diamox etc. can help curb the symptoms and effects, removing the cause(high altitude) is the most logical solution.
Trekking Tip 3: Prepare adequately.
Make sure you’re physically and mentally fit to go for a trek. Fitness can make the difference between making a trek really easy to complete, or really difficult to manage. You don’t want to be left lagging behind!
Trekking Tip 4: Climb high, sleep low.
Once over 3000 meters above sea level, climb slowly, sleeping no more than 300 m higher at the end of each day. Going higher during the day is fine as long as you go down to sleep. It’s a good idea to reach your destination for the day and then go for an acclimatisation walk somewhere high around, thereafter returning to camp.
Trekking Tip 5: Start early, reach early.
It’s a rule I follow religiously. Early morning usually makes for glorious weather, with astounding views. Plus, if you start by around 5 or 6 AM, there’s a good chance you’ll be at your intended destination by 12 PM or max, 2, just in time for lunch. Plus, the weather usually gets cloudy and rainy post noon, and it’s never fun to trek in that.
Trekking Tip 6: Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photos. Kill nothing but time. Keep nothing but memories.
Global warming is consuming our planet at a rapid pace, and the Himalayas have one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. Add to all this, the throngs of tourists visiting them each year, and you have at hand a disaster waiting to happen.
In light of all these, it is our prerogative that we keep our ecological footprint to a minimum. We leave them as we would like to find them. We do not harm the flora and fauna. We take away nothing but experiences.
Trekking Tip 7: It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.
This one applies to both trekking and mountaineering. If we keep wasting time thinking about how much further the destination is, we make it mentally tiring for ourselves. So it’s best to concentrate on the next step, on the immediate present, and where to put our foot next.
Trekking Tip 8: Take care of your feet.
Your legs and feet are your most valuable companion on any trek, and that’s why it’s really important to pay attention to them. Make sure to wear the right socks, and the right number of layers. Break in new shoes before taking them for their first trek. Get comfortable in them. Lace them up to the top to reduce chances twisting your ankle.
Trekking Tip 9: When you reach a destination, set up camp first before anything else.
Before doing anything else, it’s necessary that you pitch your tents first. When you do that, you have a base to function out of, out of which you can organise all other activities like cooking. In the event of unforeseen weather, you have a place to take shelter.
Trekking Tip 10: “Aur kitni aage hai?/How much further?” is always a bad question to ask, and one we hate answering 😛
We all know “Bas thoda aur/just 10 minutes more” is a blatant lie we tell just to keep you satisfied, so why make us say it 😛 ?
We recently interviewed Kratika Jain, a digital marketer from Ahmedabad. In a candid chat, she tells us about her first time trekking experiences to Hampta Pass in July. Read on!
Q: How did you start trekking?
A: Actually, this was my first time trekking, and it all happened rather quickly. Quite a lot of my friends were doing it, and I couldn’t handle their pictures, it was too beautiful, and I really needed a break from my job as well! The satisfaction of the mountains couldn’t be felt in a city like Ahmedabad, and I really wanted to get away. So I quickly opened up Google and started looking for a trek to do.
Q: How did you end up choosing Hampta Pass?
A: I simply searched which trek was popular during July, and Hampta Pass popped up!
Q: What was Hampta Pass like, for you?
A: It was easy to moderate, even though it was my first time trekking, but the last two days were quite difficult(during the pass crossing and descending). Even the day we crossed Hampta Pass, we walked for 12 hours. I thought to myself, “Oh shit I’m killing myself !”, but looking back when we finished it, it was a really nice experience, and at that point, I realised that we(the group) had actually done something exciting in life!
Q: How did it feel when you reached the pass itself?
A: Actually, I wasn’t feeling that good, since there was still some portion of the trek remaining. When I reached the pass, I was jubilant, but then thought “Oh shit, abhi aur chalna hai(I still have to walk more!)”. Then, on the final day, my feelings were the exact opposite and I was thinking “Oh damn, it’s the last day”, and then we felt like it was too short, we wished it was longer. Suddenly all my energy came back that day and we wished we could do it all over again!
Q: Sounds like it was quite a task managing the trek. What inspired you to keep walking?
A: You see so much natural beauty and variations in weather, which you would not get to see in a crowded city like Ahmedabad. The scenery is amazing and beautiful, sometimes it’s flowers, mountains, waterfalls, sometimes it’s rivers. It all inspires you to keep going!
Q: Speaking of rivers, how’d you find the river crossing at Jwara?
A: At first, I felt like not doing it, then I felt a lot of adrenalin during the actual crossing itself, and then I felt like doing it again! It was adventurous, but thankfully I was never scared.
Q: Once you cross Hampta Pass, you come to Spiti and Chandra Tal. How did you like those?
A: It was absolutely beautiful! I had never seen mountainous landscapes, especially since it was my first time trekking. My immediate reaction was “Why don’t they shoot Bollywood movies here? Why do people go abroad to countries like Thailand? Spiti is equally, if not more beautiful”. The truth is, Himachal is really unexplored. That is because of its inaccessibility. But it is this same inaccessibility that allows this region to remain peaceful, calm, and serene. By contrast, we saw Rohtang Pass on the way back, and wahan pe to mela laga hua tha!
Q: Being an Indian woman, was there any hurdle you faced while informing your family about going for the trek?
A: I just told my family, don’t wait for me, agar mai waapis nahi aayi! They were asking for a phone number to contact me in case of an emergency, and were shocked to learn ke waahaan pe signal hi nahi aata. They could not comprehend that there are still regions in this country jahaan pe signal nahi aata! All jokes aside, they were mostly fine, they just wanted me to stay in touch, since it was my first time trekking.
Q: Was there any particular event from the trek which stood out for you?
A: The truth is, I wasn’t in a good condition, and desperately wanted a break from my life. I wanted to move out of the city and go to the mountains. So this trek was a big break for me, and genuinely a life changing experience, which I felt I needed. So I would describe the entire trek as an event that stood out for me. To top it all, the Renok staff were really nice and supportive. The group members too were very cooperative. Some of the group members and guides are now friends of mine!
Q:Do you have any advice for first time trekkers?
A: What I witnessed on the trek was that people were scared of the altitude, saying “No, mujhse nahi hoga(I will not be able to do it), I can’t do this” etc. If we keep this sort of mindset, we will not be able to concentrate on the trek and enjoy it, enjoy the scenery all around. For those for whom it’s their first time trekking, I have to say this. We should soak in every moment, because every moment is unique, memorable and enjoyable, and we should not forget this in our tiredness!
Q: Finally, has this trek had any lasting effects on you?
A: Apart from being in touch with all the group members, I have realised a lot of things about the mountains. Trekking is not boring, ever, and it probably won’t be for anyone. Anyone can go for it, people from all walks of life, age, etc., so everyone can disconnect from their individual backgrounds and connect together to the mountains. Trekking also helps you get to know yourself as a person, and nothing can be better than staying with nature. I felt so much positivity when I returned from Hampta Pass, it’s been life-changing for me. Whenever I’m faced with a negative situation in life, I think of the mountains, and I channel positivity through them into me. When I returned from Hampta, I kept telling my family and friends the tales of my trek, and now they’ve started to grow bored! Even now, I am in the same mood, dreaming of the mountains. Ab to keeda lag gaya hai(I’m hooked to the mountains now), to trek once or twice during the year.
It looks like Kratika had a gala time. Do you think Hampta Pass could be your calling too? Head on over here to find out!
Layering is the tried and tested method used by Mountaineers for a long time. The beauty of this simple concept is that it allows you to make quick adjustments based on your activity level and changes in the weather.
We can divide our clothing into broadly three layers for your upcoming treks.
1. Base Layer – near the skin, manages moisture
2. Insulation Layer – protects you from the cold on upcoming treks.
3 Shell or Outer Layer – protects you from Wind or Rain.
This Layer is next to your skin and helps in regulate your body temperature by moving perspiration away from your body. Keeping dry is important for maintaining a cool body temperature in the summer and avoiding hypothermia in the winter. If you have ever used a cotton T under your rain cover while hiking or trekking, you will get wet not from outside but from inside.
Cotton is not a good material for this clothing layer instead synthetic fabrics like MTS, Capilene, PowerDry and CoolMax polyester or Silk are better alternatives for upcoming treks.
Insulation Layer – protects from cold
The insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Fleece vests, jackets and tights are classic examples of insulation ideal for outdoor activities and for more extreme conditions feather jackets are most appropriate. Down has a very good warmth:weight ratio, and can be packed down (squeezed) to take very little room but are very costly.
They not only trap air but are also made with moisture transferring fibers to help keep you dry.
Shell or Outer Layer – protects from Wind or Rain
The outermost clothes are called the shell layer, they block wind or water and have good mechanical strength. Ideally the shell layer clothes are breathable i.e they lets moisture through to the outside while not letting wind and water pass through from the outside to the inside. This layer is a must is your upcoming treks are in the monsoon like the Valley Of Flowers Trek.
Gore Tex is extensively used for outer layer and it is Waterproof and breathable made of the very strong fabrics. It is founded by W. L. Gore & Associates and they are best known for their this product which is used in various world leading brands.