Getting Started with Trekking
Dying to head into the hills but don’t know how? Well, before you jump in into the activity, there are few tricks and tips that you might consider before you and your fancy gears tackle any of the great sierras on your list. These tricks and tips on trekking for beginners are worth considering before you take on the trail which could mean a little less painful trek and a lot more pleasure. For all first timers, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Trekking for beginners can be of course has a lot of dimension to it and involves detailed planning before you can actually be in the wild. This will be your guide to look through when you decide to get away from all of the chaos in the city life and hop into an enlivening trek in the great outdoors and be one with nature!
Read: 13 Reasons why you should start trekking
Trekking for beginners: Deciding where to go.
When you have decided to start trekking, choosing where to start the activity is crucial. The first trek experience usually is the deciding factor for the many, whether they will continue engaging in this type of activity or drop it in the trash bin.
Choose an Easy Trek First
Don’t rush. You may start with small or medium level treks. Remember that most people who rush to the wild because they’ve been pumped up by few episodes of an outdoor show usually end up badly in the wild. We really need to take it slow. This is not a competition nor a race. You need to take baby steps. Baby steps will bring you to the most treacherous mountains someday if that’s where you want to go. So, if you are new to the trekking scene, ease yourself in.
For beginners, you should not go for the tough treks immediately as they are generally meant for the experts and the experienced. Be wise. Choose an easy trek first. It will be a wise move as you will get experience, enjoy the thrill and can relish a wonderful tour on such trek as a beginner. A tough trek may prove hazardous for you.
Read: How to make Trekking a lot Easier
Trekking for beginners needs research
Search for decent trekking spots nearby your city. It is sensible to look up first on the web for information around places you want to go or new places you want to discover. I suggest you choose a spot good for a one-day trek. Although it is ‘cool’ to say ‘Let’s just go for it’, but doing research about the place and getting the general information on the route. Getting lost there then is fun too! But by doing so, can turn the whole experience into a complete disaster.
Find a place appropriate to you and your group’s capability levels and experience. You may choose common trails initially so you get comfortable with the activity. Then with experience, you can be more adventurous in your succeeding jaunts and maybe chart out new trails!
It is worth noting that planning and research for the trek should be done very cautiously. A proper research is extremely important and its prominence grows even bigger if you are a beginner. Only after you have done proper research on the location and climate that you may encounter during the trek, you can do further planning of your jaunt.
Trekking for beginners needs proper scheduling
Make a comprehensive schedule when you are planning for your first trekking activity. One must deliberate the schedule as per the climate and situation of the destination. Make sure that you have informed a relative or a friend about your schedule, as they can come to your aid if you get into any trouble while in the verge of your activity.
Coordinate with the proper authorities (LGU’s, etc) or the local tourism office, as they will be in the front line when misadventures happened. Register in any registration site when needed.
Trekking for beginners: What preparations are needed?
Make Certain That You Are Perfectly Fit to do this strenuous activity
Get a medical clearance. Medical checkup should be the first and foremost priority before planning a trekking trip. Many trekkers suffer from cold, cough, stomach upset, etc while trekking. These can cause the whole journey less enjoyable and worst case, aborting the entire activity. It is every joiner responsibility to inform the trek organizer or leader if you have any medical problems.
Moreover, while on the trail, you must tell the lead if you are suffering from any discomforts like dysentery, bad blisters, headaches or dizziness, cramps, etc.
Being physically fit for your trek is a must. That way you can enjoy the climb and not get bogged down by sheer fatigue of walking and make the whole experience fun. Easier said than done right? Trekking requires practice and getting used to carrying a backpack on ascent and descent. So how to master and get used to with it? Well, a good way to start off is jogging and eventually increasing the tempo steadily to build stamina.
A good trekker going on major ascents needs not only strong legs but good core strength. Always remember that there are no short cuts to this kind of activity and a little exercise like jogging or going to the gym never killed anybody. It is very important to keep in mind that different treks may require different training regimes. So make necessary adjustments.
What is the Budget?
One of the important factors to consider when starting this kind of activity is the budget. Expenses for food, accommodation, etc, should be given enough consideration while planning a budget. It is wise that the money you will be carrying should be a little more than the estimated. It is because there are many unforeseen expenses that may come up on the trekking trip.
Trekking for beginners: What to wear?
Here is a rule of thumb – When starting on your flirting affair with trekking, wear too much rather than too little. It is always better being too warm and be able to take off a layer than being too cold and not having anything to wear on top. The mountains you choose may have very cold winds that can froze your bones. So, always carry a change of clothes that can help you in the rain and as an extra layer on top. An extra pair of socks and windbreaker or poncho may be of great help to shield you in case of rains.
To protect yourself from the fiery heat of the sun, wear a cap or hat. These can keep you warm also when in the cold. As much as possible, wear dri-fit shirts (wool or fleece). Wear protective accessories like arm sleeves or leg sleeves/guards. Scarfs can be a better alternative too. However, if you are like me, you can use an umbrella as protection from heat. Yes, you read it right. (Payong mountaineer here 🙂 ). But do not use umbrella when trekking on trails that need you to free your hands.
Footwear is one of the most crucial and important thing to consider when trekking. Wear comfortable hard-soled trekking or walking shoes for off-road or unpaved trails. Most outdoor enthusiasts suggest that the best trekking shoes are the ones that keep your ankles stable. If you are buying a new pair of shoes for the trek, break-in those shoes so that shoe bites do not ruin your trek.
For river crossing, hiking sandals are recommended or you can just remove your socks when crossing rivers. One can wear boots too, but boots are not advisable to wear during cold weather.
What not to Wear?
Keep in mind that sneakers are not recommended when trekking. Avoid cotton clothing as it does not dry quickly and does not keep you warm in the rains. Go for wool or fleece instead if you have one. Never wear cotton socks either as much as possible. Thick synthetic or woolen socks can help prevent from getting blisters when wet or sweaty.
Trekking for beginners: What to pack?
Pack All the Essentials Carefully
People have different views on this and it does depend on how long and where you are going. Pack the less required heavy stuff like the medical kit, cook sets, burners, or change of clothes at the bottom. Food in the middle and quick energy bites, water and other needed stuffs while on the trail at the top.
As you are a beginner, you must know that the foodstuffs and clothes are something that may not be available during the trek. Hence, you must carry food and clothes in sufficient amount. Please consider the quality of the clothes you will be wearing and bringing in, as there will be a possibility of clothes being torn while on the trail.
While packing your stuffs, you may follow these sub-divisions:
- What you are going to wear on the trail?
- What are the things you have to carry in the day pack?
- What you are going to pack in the duffel bag?
What are the Trekking Essentials?
Being well equipped with essentials is mandatory for a pleasant and enthralling trekking activity. Here is the list of suggested items you may bring along with you on your trekking:
* Waterproofed trekking boots /Trekking shoes (Running shoes will do but no sneakers please)
* Jacket or something that has a hood
* A sweater as the weather may get chilly
* Extra shirt / shorts
* Pairs of underwear as you may need to change while on the trek
* Wind-gear and rain-gear * Sun hat
* Gloves / socks
* Personal first-aid kit including medication for common ailments such as headaches, dysentery etc., moleskin, antiseptic cream, surgical tape, band aids, sun cream and medicines
* Water bottle that can hold sufficient water
* Trash bags
* Day pack
Optional Accessories that You May Carry
* Camera / fully charged batteries / Power bank
* Binoculars / Umbrella
* Extra water bottle
How to be safe?
You must be Familiar with Your Limitations. If you have no habit of walking very long distances, you should try covering short distances first. Fatigue is a general problem that the beginners usually face while engaging in this activity.
Make your own decision. You are one who best know about your capabilities. Be aware of your physical strength and endurance. Keep your limitations in consideration always.
You should keep up your confidence while trekking. As a beginner, you will feel the ultimate thrill on the trekking tour. If you follow all the tips and guidelines properly, you will complete a memorable jaunt that you will never forget in your entire life!
What you need to know?
Respect fellow trekkers by not being too loud and leaving markers alone is an unsaid rule. Remember to follow the etiquette always. Enjoy the adventure, click pictures and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers!
Leave No Trace Principles
There are no trash pickers in the countryside, no one to clean away your waste. So take away what you take in – plastics, packets, food (and of course that toilet paper too if it is not biodegradable!)
Read: Leave No Trace Principle
Pay attention to keeping our nature pristine and untouched. Avoid much impact to the place you are visiting.
Here are some useful trekking tips for beginners:
* Water. Carry enough water depending on how long your trek is. Water is an essential thing that everyone must carry because it is easy to get dehydrated while it’s warm. Do not rely on finding drinkable water along the trail unless there is a safe water source with drinkable water. Natural spring water is sometimes potable but discretion is important. Bring enough water if you have a very sensitive stomach.
* Food. Trekking can take up a lot of energy. Carry lightweight high-energy food. For short day treks, carry energy fruits like bananas. Avoid bringing perishable foods when in long treks. Instead, bring with you some dry fruits, energy bars or biscuits. You can bring also trail snacks like jelly ace, salted peanuts, etc.
* Sunscreen. Bring protection from the scorching heat of the sun especially when your destination is an open peak. Scarfs, hats, umbrellas can be very useful. When crossing swampy areas or bushes, you might want to apply some insect repellant especially if you have the sweetest blood. J
* First aid kit. Pain relievers, antihistamine, and bandages may be useful. Avoid bringing in your Med cabinet.
* Miscellaneous. Bring pocket knife, flashlights with extra batteries / torch. Bring navigation tools if you are heading a little deeper into the woods. And don’t forget biodegradable toilet paper (you don’t know when shit happens :))
* Carry IDs and money in case of emergencies.
* During the trek, keep a lookout for potential dangers. Don’t touch suspicious looking flora. Poisonous plants are another hiking hazard.
* Do not use strongly scented skin/hair products. It can ignite the strong senses of animals around. Protect yourself against scrapes, plants and insects by wearing full-length garments.
You may want to read other tips here:
How to make your Camping Experience more comfortable?
How to stay clean and fresh on multiple day trekking?
There you have it, a basic guide in trekking for beginners. This is a long read but it maybe helpful when you are really serious about pursuing this activity.
Trekking is more enjoyable with a fellow adventurer. Going in groups means being able to help each other along. With the companionship, you can have a better shared moments and an exciting adventure. Before you head out in your adventure, always inform friends and family about where you intend to go. Inform them when they can expect you back. Enjoy the adventure and keep in mind that when you’re in the mountains, every day is Friday!
When engaging in this physical activity, chances are that not all will go as per plan. But, that is the fun part though. Don’t forget to tag along some of your friends for the trek if still you are not sure to go all by yourself. The easiest way is to contact any local trek club. Cheers and Enjoy!