Trekking in Himalayas is an addictive experience. It varies in terms of daily distances, ascent, descend and altitude, but all require specific preparation to ensure you get the most from your trek. I can never wait for my dose of adventure. There are many things to keep in mind when venturing out to forest trails and mountains which I learned the hard way. When you want to explore the mountains for the first time, it is always an adrenaline pumping experience. But if you are not prepared then it will land you in trouble in hills. If you mess around with the mountains, then it will be totally unforgiving.
Hence that’s why it is said “Better be safe than sorry.” For all the first timer’s, here are a few tips or a comprehensive beginner’s guide to look through when you decide to get away from your busy and chaotic city life.
COMPREHENSIVE BEGINNER’S GUIDE / TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
WHERE TO GO:
The first and foremost step and this is where the game begins. Always choose a trek which fits you and also with your timeline. You might be able to complete a trek in 5-6 days and find it easy but the same trek can be strenuous if tried in 3-4 days. You can check here for your best decision on choosing your place “HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR FIRST TREK.”
It is sane to first look up on the web for the information where you want to go. ‘Let’s pack and go’ – it might sound cool and give you a feeling of adventure but some research and general information will definitely help your budget and you. Find a place which is suitable for you and your group according to each other’s fitness level and experiences. Being physically fit will definitely help you in trek. And yes being a beginner always select a trail which is popular so you can get comfortable. Many people choose hard treks just because they fail to understand some basic points and later regret it.
WHAT TO PACK:
People have different views on What to Pack. It is actually true as well because it solely depends on how long and where you are going. A little preparation and you will not be tired and enjoy the trek to the fullest. Never overload your rucksack with unnecessary items. It only makes the bag heavy and crush your back.
I have experienced these situations myself wherein I used to pack like crazy almost a pair of clothes for each day. Trust me it did not take much time for me to get my thoughts straight. Now my favorite style is to pack less required items at the bottom like medical kit and spare clothes i.e. one extra pair of clothes in case of rain or emergency. Keeping middle portion for food and the top one for quick bites and water of course. Pack jackets as per the weather conditions and how can you know is by checking our blog.
CHOOSING THE GUIDE AND TRAVEL PARTNERS:
Now this can be of great help or a tip for all the beginners. No matter how easy or difficult the trail or path is, which you are trekking, always have an experienced guide who can save you in many ways. If in case you are considering going solo on a trek for the first time then I personally wouldn’t suggest it. For a start, you can actually choose a group which will ensure a great helping hand along with companionship plus you’ll enjoy your best. The group need not be a travel agency one, you can find a group offline as well. Groups or partners can be important for a beginner or first timer. If you are enjoying the trek then you will be taking memories with you and encourage you to trek again.
Remember a hectic and back breaking trek will never motivate you the next time. Some people avoid guides and consider themselves one after completing a couple of treks. But you never know when you can suffer some life crisis due to AMS (Acute Motion Sickness) or get lost in the mountains. Try to avoid these problems.
Refer to our article to learn HOW TO PREVENT MOTION SICKNESS.
KEEP BUFFER DAYS:
Keeping a buffer day is actually good, it keeps help you in numerous ways. Things don’t move to your plans always. Bad weather conditions, landslides, getting hit by AMS, not able to complete the daily target in terms of reaching the desired destination. All these factors can come up since nature can be unpredictable and same human plans. If in case you are able to complete everything on time and everything went smooth, the buffer day will let you rest. I know it gets a little hectic to return to the office life the very next day on your arrival. Adding a couple of days should be always in your itinerary.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL PREPARATIONS:
As I have always stressed upon the physical preparation more but you need to equally prepare mentally as well. A lot of people actually don’t take trekking seriously and go unplanned. Lack of preparation can make you give up just before the summit. And somehow this is the worst thing that can happen to a trekker and this will ruin your whole journey.
Start preparing for your trek at least 10 to 15 days in advance. If not more, do basic running and exercise and increase your stamina. You can train your legs and body with exercises like squats, lunges, running and cardio. Also apart from this you will need mental strength too.
There will be times when you will feel the soreness, tiredness and pain in your muscles but you will have to move forward, unless too important to rest. You will get very basic living conditions with limited necessities. Someone who is trekking for the first time might take time to get used to living inside a tent or sleeping in a sleeping bag. In the beginning it will definitely stress you out. It is honestly uncomfortable to sleep inside a sleeping bag. Be prepared and don’t let it stress you out, take it in stride and enjoy the experience and scenery all around you.
PRE, DURING AND POST THE TREK:
These are some tips which you will need start from the beginning to the complete end of your trekking. What all includes are pretty basic and common things. You actually should follow these
In Pre-trek things comes your physical preparation and mental status. Check yourself if you are really ready for the trek, if not then postpone your trek and give time to these factors. Remember they will play a vital role. Pack your bags wisely and don’t load a ton. Keeping a checklist handy is always the best thing to do while packing. Do a little research. Check the weather conditions and temperature before you are going on any trek.
Inform your family or friends about your itinerary before going. You will not have access to any network in almost all the treks. Ensure they are not worried while you are enjoying in nature, away from technology. Make sure on the last point where you are getting the network, just call them. Let them know about your schedule and for how many days you will be out of network. You can ask your guide or group leader about the last point where you can get the network.
During the Trek, take things easy on you since it is your start to the trek and you have a long journey ahead. Enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and the beautiful journey. Don’t overdo or over-exert.
Always help your travel partners and pump them up with encouragement whenever needed. Talk to your fellow group members and smile and greet when you pass someone. They will feel good and probably energize their mood.
Also listen to your body, pushing too hard might lead to serious injuries. Adjust your pace and acclimatize properly. Trekking is not a race and completing first would reward you the same way as last. Keep your guide or group aware if you are moving slow and always be in their insight to avoid any sort of risks.
Most important, please do not pollute the nature. You all are aware about the condition of our mother earth. Carry a garbage bag or keep all the plastic waste in your bag and dump it at the end in the dustbin. Leave mountains as pristine as you saw them, it is our duty to keep the mountains clean. Don’t think what harm this little candy wrapper can do. If we all start throwing these wrapper then the mountain will be covered with the plastic in no time. Little steps in preserving ecosystem will take you and future generation a long way.
Now since you have completed the trek. So in Post-Trek, the first thing to do is to call your friends and family and inform them that you have completed the trek successfully. Give them a sigh of relief. Secondly, dump the garbage or plastic used by you during the trek in proper channel so it can be disposed properly. And most importantly, give yourself rest before rushing into your regular corporate lifestyle.
Well a complete smooth trip is a myth, and the same rule applies for trekking as well. It will bring you out of the comfort zone which you are used to, hence the above tips will help you to open up and handle the situation in an efficient way. Below are a few extra tips which you can refer.
FEW EXTRA TIPS FOR TREKKERS:
Trekking Shoes is actually a really basic of trekking. I have seen many people wearing sports shoes while trekking assuming it won’t make a difference. Never be hesitant to spend on trekking shoes specially. I personally have made this mistake while I was trekking in Dayara Bugyal and learned the importance of trekking shoes (link buying guide for trekking shoes). If you don’t wish to buy new shoes, then now a days a lot of options are available wherein you can rent them.
A good trekking shoes will ensure comfort and support in rough terrains and protect during rain and low temperatures. Choose a shoe which fits you snugly with socks on. But make sure you don’t wear a brand new show straight on trek, wear it for a week and adapt it. Wearing new shoes can result in shoe bite and blisters.
Layers of Clothing needs to be packed keeping in mind the altitude and temperature. You will have long days or cold night and as we all know weather in mountains changes in a moment. Always ensure you are wearing comfortable clothes and also breathable. Keep dry fit t-shirt, trekking pants will be must and fleece are great options for every trekkers. Wear a hat or cap to protect from sun and sunglasses for your eyes.
Trekking Poles actually work as your third leg and provides you with constant support. This is one of the most useful trekking gears, and also the most ignored. A lot of people take these gears with their ego and show great confidence without them. But trust me during a good ascend or descend, these will give you so much support and prevent major injuries. I myself have ignored them for so long. Touché.
First Aid Kits, few simple stuff does the trick. Band-Aids, gauze tape, a small squeeze bottle to irrigate wounds, scissors, antibiotic ointment, anti-inflammatory and pain relievers are the basics. You cannot predict the weather in the mountains, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. This implies perfectly here so carry basic aids which you can use in an emergency. Acute Mountain Sickness medicines are must.
Sunscreen and Insect Repellants, since you will exposed to sun all day and insects at night (not everywhere). UV protection becomes important if the skin is exposed to long periods of sunlight which can happen in trail with less trees. Always apply sunscreen even if the trail is covered with trees because you don’t want to have sunburn on your neck. It will hurt whenever your burned skin will come in contact with your t-shirt or with rucksack straps. I personally have suffered from these burns. Use insect repellents for mosquitoes and bugs at night.
Water Bottle, mountains are sources of clean and fresh water, just carry a bottle and refill it. Don’t spend the money in buying new bottles every time, it will increase your budget. You won’t get these bottles on MRP at such high altitudes, you might have to pay 50 to 60 bucks. Also all the bottles which you have consumed will be difficult for you to carry back. If you throw them after one use, it will add to the garbage and hamper our environment. Make it a habit of carrying atleast 1 Litre water bottle in your rucksack.
Miscellaneous, a pocket knife, flashlight with extra batteries, fire making tools, navigation tools, biodegradable toiletries etc can be very helpful. Don’t forget to carry your ID card and necessary permits (if required for specific treks). Lastly, one golden rule of trekking never rely on plastic money, carry extra cash always.
By now I am sure you all have learned a lot and this guide will come in handy when as a beginning you will be going for trekking. Choose your trek according to different factors. Refer to the guide above about where you want to go, what you need to pack, what extra precautions you need to take and so on. An easy trek can also become challenging if unprepared.
HAPPY TREKKING TO ALL