Your first foray into the outdoors always makes you a bit nervous. But there’re always those who have been there and done that. From whom we can learn a lot. And there are some of my own tried and tested ways that I would like to share with you all.
Yes, we all love spending time in the outdoors, sometimes we do that for weeks together. But there’s a lot that should be done during your time at home too. The Internet is a source of information like no other and very often, hours and days go by when I am glued to my laptop. Reading one article after another and gobbling down as many tips and tricks that can be handy in the field.
The blogs coming your way over the next few weeks are an attempt to present what I’ve read online, all the second-hand knowledge gathered scouring corners of the net – to present it in a condensed, meaningful way. So that you can save some time and spend it more wisely outdoors.
So here are a few pointers you can keep in mind when starting out:
Choose your first trek wisely
First of all, trek difficulty and trek are to be considered. Start with short weekend hikes around your city before heading into the Himalayas. You will learn many things from shorter, easier treks that will make it much easier for that long
Select a trek keeping your specific interests in mind and what you want to experience. All treks are not made equal – some have more wildlife while others have spectacular waterfalls. Simply joining a trek because that’s where most of your friends have been before is not the right way to go about it. For you may simply want to relax and hike through forests rather than trek up a challenging mountain pass.
Also keep in mind distance from the nearest city. Unlike countries with a more developed rescue options we do not have the luxury or the means to call for a rescue. In case anything untoward happens you’ll be far away from civilisation and days away from any help. Start small, with easy treks and slowly build up your confidence in the wilderness.
Know your trekking style
Decide if you want to trek independently or with a trek organizing company. For beginners it might be more reassuring to get the logistics sorted out by the trek organizers even for the shortest of treks. Customizing a trek to suit your needs can be a slightly expensive affair though, if you’re not in a group of 4-5 trekkers or more. Alternatively, there are the fixed departure treks where you can simply sign up for a trek starting on a particular date and join other trekkers who have also signed up the same trek.
You can also trek independently though this will definitely require more grit and determination. You will have plan and arrange the trek logistics by yourself. This should only be opted for by experienced trekkers though, or when accompanied by an experienced partner / team.
Go along with an experienced partner
Solo treks can be extremely rewarding but resist the urge to venture out on your own, especially when you’re new to the outdoors. Unless you are a seasoned trekker with plenty of experience, avoid heading out alone. Join like-minded adventurers and head out along with a group. Accompany someone who knows their way around and can get you out of tricky situations, so that you don’t find yourself completely over your head if anything goes wrong.
Carry appropriate gear
Gear to be carried depends on the region that you’re heading out in and the season you are trekking in. Your gear should cover all probable incidents that you might face.
The ten essential pieces of gear to carry to be prepared for emergency situations has evolved over the year and is now referred to as these ten systems:
Leave No Trace
You must have heard this before and you will keep hearing it. And you must, for this is the mantra all trekkers MUST follow.
It is a lot of fun to be out in the wild but it is also very important to keep the wilderness as we found it. Indians are known for their dismal ways when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. I’ve come across campsites littered with food wrappers and toilet paper flying in the wind. The pollution so common in the cities will only spread to the mountains, if not conscious of your actions. Better stay indoors and let the outdoors be, if you cannot take care of your surroundings and keep them clean.
Leave No Trace (www.LNT.org) lists seven principles that promote ethical, low impact outdoor recreation. The major principles: carry back your own garbage and stay away from wildlife. Ethical outdoor recreation in detail will also follow in another blog.
Cleaning up your own trash is the least that you can do. If possible, try and carry back some garbage other trekkers might have left behind. Go ahead, set an example for the others!
Your trekking plans and expected date of return must be communicated to someone. A family member, friend or any other responsible person must know about this. It helps to sound an alarm if your return is delayed for whatever reason. It also helps rescue teams to plan their search & rescue properly based on the information you have passed on to someone before leaving.
More trekking tips for beginners
Keep these things in mind and your first trek should go well. You will surely make mistakes and learn from them. We all do, even experienced trekkers go wrong every now and then. But trust the outdoors to teach you in its own style, slowly but surely. Eventually you will understand your own body, its shortcomings; your trekking style and how you need to prepare for the tougher treks you always dreamed of.
This is by no means all there is to keep in mind for beginners. Do share more points you feel will help those who are yet to head out on a trek...