Train, Prepare & Conquer
Joseph provides valuable advice on how to prepare for a day's hike or a hiking expedition.
Joseph has spent years building up his endurance and mastering the art of hiking, from small day treks to half a month Himalayan expeditions. He has done it all in the past ten years, and today he can proudly say he has witnessed the glory and fierceness of Mother Nature like many people have never seen. Today, many close friends and acquaintances ask him for advice on how to hike. His answer always remains the same – train, prepare and conquer.
The three things you must have in your backpack
Before we move into the ground details, I would like to share with you the three essential items that greatly helped me to traverse the wilderness and scale the mountains. Apart from the usual hiking gear, trekking poles, pocket blankets, and dry bags are the three things that you should not even think of leaving home without.
Preparing for a hike
Now that we have got the essentials covered, let me tell you how you should plan and prepare for your hike in advance. If you want to have enjoyable trekking experience, you must train well in advance. Proper training will give you better mobility and protect your feet, legs, and other joints that would be working all day long. Strengthening your quads and hips will lead to improved cardiovascular endurance, thus minimizing the impact on the body.
Regardless of your destination, train your lower body strength to reduce fatigue and decrease the chances of injury. It will also prepare your body to handle steep inclines.
If you hit the gym, drop the weights for a few days and concentrate on cardio. Your goal would be to reduce the resting period in between the sets and develop more lung capacity.
Yoga is a great practice that can not only improve flexibility but also prepare your body for movement. It will also add strength that will aid in the post-hike recovery process.
If possible, devote some time to cross-training by running on a trail to develop overall endurance. Never underestimate the importance of training and get at least two weeks of training if you plan to head outdoors for more than three days.
Plan your hike
If you are going to a destination that you have not been before, you must read up on features of the trail, associated dangers, and safety tips from people who have already completed the hike. Planning is imperative when hiking for the first time so never go out on the spur of the moment. Doing a quick Internet search can tell you a lot about the right location and stuff to keep in mind.
Packing your backpack is an acquired skill that you will get better with time. But for starters, try not to fill it up to a point you are having difficulty lifting the bag up. Remember, what feels light now will feel a lot heavier when you are going up a slope or travelling on uneven terrain. Keep your essentials in the outer pockets (e.g. food) so that they are within your reach. Heavy clothes and other non-immediate essentials can be put at the bottom of the hiking backpack.
If your hike has more than one route, be sure to choose the one that you feel comfortable taking. The scenic route might provide better views, but as a first-timer, your objective would be to have a safe trip. You may start with less water on your backpack if you have an idea of fill-up locations along the trail.
Navigate the trail carefully
Going on a simple day hike? What could ever go wrong? Over the years, I have learned that the duration of a hike has nothing to do with the possibilities of encountering unfortunate incidences. I have been to month-long walks with no difficulty but came face-to-face with injury, getting lost, and being stuck on much shorter trips.
Plot your route before embarking on the trail and make a habit of keeping notes or sketches of intersections that you can use as reference material. Look at your map frequently and match how much progress you have made. Always keep GPS as a backup, even though a map and compass are two favourite things of veteran hikers. Remember to tell someone about your planned hike - where you are going, when you will be going and when you expect to be back.
There is no substitute for precaution, and you must do everything within your reach to make sure you have a safe and memorable outdoor experience.
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About the Author
Joseph is an experienced trekker.