Trekking has become an increasingly popular sport with many embarking on long distances in distant countries. Scale the heights of Mount Kinabalu or trek Barsey for a rush of adrenaline and breathtaking sights! But where does one begin?
If your first time turns out to be less than positive, it can affect your willingness to try out new experiences and tours. We have made it our mission to help you embark on your first trek with ease. Here are 5 essential tips for beginners!
Plan, Plan & Plan!
This cannot be stressed enough. Take some time to read guidebooks about the location, access forums and ask questions about the terrain. Each terrain is different and one cannot assume that just because you can walk long distances in a city, walking in the wilderness will be the same. For beginners, it is important to choose the right season for a trek. Get aquainted with the weather and seasonal conditions of the region so that you can prepare accordingly.
Ideally, pick drier and warmer times of the year when you are just starting out. Rain could result in tougher trails, soggy grounds, innumerable leeches and an overall negative experience. Also stay away from winter treks initially as the bitter cold is tough to navigate through, even for experienced trekkers.
Because treks bring you up to high altitudes, it is important to dress accordingly. While you may complain about the number of layers at the beginning, you will feel thankful at the summit when the cold bites the exposed parts of your skin. 3 essential layers have to be present- the base layer, the mid layer and the shell. The base layer is meant to remove the sweat from your skin so avoid cotton! The middle layer insulates against the cold and the shell will fend off moisture and wind. As you move along the trek, add on layers if you have to. Also, don a beanie, gloves and thermal socks to ensure that you are fully protected.
Pack Snacks and Water
Treks are exhausting and your body needs fuel to carry forward! Do not risk getting lightheaded due to the lack of food in your body. Packing full meals are terribly inconvenient but snack packs are the best alternative. Not as satisfying, but they keep you going. Dried fruits and nuts are incredible sources of energy and they are not messy to deal with.
Prepare your own trail mix of granola, dried fruits and nuts in an airtight container and munch on the goodies as you move along. If you have a nut allergy, substitute the nuts with more granola, seeds (sunflower/pumpkin), raisins or even bits of dark chocolate.
Bring a sturdy bottle of water in your backpack too. This will ensure that you are kept hydrated throughout. When hiking, we tend to lose a lot of water and thus need to replenish ourselves often. Without water we can risk having dizzy spells and lightheadedness due to dehydration.
Use Walking Poles
Walking poles are of trememdous help as you make your way help. These poles will help to distribute your body’s load more evenly. As such, it will reduce the strain on the knees, back and legs during the uphill climb! It can also aid with balance on uneven trails and ensure stability.
Overall, your fatigue will be reduced and you will be able to tackle trickier parts of a trail with more ease. When purchasing the poles, test for strength, check the handles and comfort of the strap. These play essential roles in ensuring that the poles do what they were made for!
Trekking is not an easy feat. Spending hours each day, for a few days, moving through dense jungles, rocky terrains and steep slope requires training. You would also be carrying a bag of essentials on your back. Hence, start training as early as possible. Training sessions should include cardio of varying intensities, stairs-based training and strength training with particular focus on the legs.
Walking is an essential part of training too! While we do walk on a daily basis, our walking style does not compare to walking on a trail. Trails combine long distance with elevation and thus requires you to be physically prepared. Furthermore, during training sessions do carry your backpack (weighted) so that you can adjust to the feeling of completing long distances with a weight on your back.
Switch up your training locations often and explore new terrains. Get yourself used to both simple and more challenging walks so that you will be prepared for any unexpected scenarios. Do this with your trekking shoes so that you will have a chance to break in your shoes.
Adequate preparation and exercise are essential to maximise the benefits you will get out of an experience. If you dive into the deep end of the pool, with respect to trekking, it can potentially be dangerous. Dangers can include extreme fatigue, dehydration, broken bones and other severe injuries. Do ensure that all risks are weighed out beforehand and stay informed!