Trek In the Himalayas………Beginners guide to a successful trek
There is more to Mountains than driving down the curvy roads, Cool Breeze, Snow, Greenery, holidaying.
A trip to mountains had always been a leisure family affair until I saw SM preparing for his first high altitude trek for Stok in Leh. He suddenly started a disciplined scheduled health and fitness regime. He aced his trek and came back with so many memories and a pride of having achieved a great trek. This led to a secret desire in me of attempting one myself someday but always thought that it would be super tough and would rather stay in my dreams until I jumped and booked myself for a Trek.
This trek too came to me as a compulsive trip and I actually got to train myself for the same, But it left me all the more confident and now ever ready for many more.
How is Hiking in mountains different from a walk in the hills
Hiking In mountains often sounds like a tedious term and is definitely different than just walking on the road in a hill station. Hiking is usually referred to an uphill walk to a point at a higher altitude which is usually not reachable through a motorable road or air route, and hikers may or may not return back to a base point on the same day.
Hiking vs. Trek
A trip to the mountains can be a mix of trek and hiking. Treks usually refer to a journey on foot through the mountains and last for days. A trekker carries his stuff from one base camp to the other at a higher altitude and camps overnight before moving further to another point at a higher altitude.
What it takes to prepare for your first ever Hiking trip to the mountains
Hiking in mountains is a sheer combination of Healthy Body and strong willpower.
Adventure is just an emotion that one attains by attempting Hiking or trekking In the mountains. Hiking is a kind of adventure, which calls for a lot of discipline. But here, the excitement begins at the thought of attempting one. The decision of attempting the hike shall bring several doubts which are good if dealt soon along with the physical preparation.
Factors and preparations to be taken into consideration, before you pack your bags.
Analyse Your health status with the help of a simple health check-up and consultation with your doctor.
If you Have not been keeping a tack of basic parameters, do take a Primary Blood test ( Under a doctor’s advice). However, if you get your health check-ups done regularly, you would fairly be able to make a decision with the help of a visit to your physician on the basis of a recent record.
Start taking your walks seriously.
Many of us might find it weird but a basic daily routine of the walk may not take you up your trek easily. Start brisk walking mixed with short jogging stretches to train your muscles for tough terrains.
Running also increases lung capacity and Stamina. Start training yourself at least a month before any trek. Difficult treks might require longer training.
Try and walk up an elevation or take stairs whenever possible to train the leg Muscles for a trek up hills.
Do muscle training By taking squats, Sprint running and planks. Trained muscles make your hiking more of fun than a forced activity. The body has to take up various unavoidable difficulties on the trek, like low oxygen levels, climatic changes etc. So a fit body would at least make the task a tad easier.
It’s Not Just About strong Legs, You need to have strong shoulders to be able to carry basic necessities on your shoulder up the trek, like your water bottles, rain gears. Take long walks with a backpack while you train in the plains, to prepare your shoulders.
( This was one challenge for me while I prepared for my trek as I always had a bit week shoulder and the thought of carrying a back Pack sounded like an upcoming nightmare)
A disciplined Pranayam Routine ( Breathing Exercise) can increase your lung capacity tremendously.
An incidence along one of SM’s Trek reinforced his faith and mine. He Was at a high altitude at their last base camp before starting to reach Stok peak. He went low on Oxygen and showed signs of Acute Mountain sickness. He was asked by the Trek leader to rest and do Pranayam for an hour( Yes You read it right An hour) His oxygen levels went up from 65 to 90 percent.
Read and Know more about the place you plan to trek
It is always wise to find out more about the place, the suitable weather, altitude, Difficulty levels, Travelling Options. For first time trekkers, it is wise to trek in a group with some experienced members.
Things to Pack Before you leave for your Trek
Either Invest or Borrow in good trek gears.
A Trek bag
It is a must as they are convenient to carry all your requirements in a compact way and Can be carried on shoulders.
Trekking shoes are different from canvas shoes or walking shoes. Always chose a pair which is waterproof, and has good ankle support.( Ankle support is very important as it prevents injury while hiking downhill and on uneven treks where the inclination is high)
Trek Pants and T-shirts( Lightweight and Dry fit)
Invest in a Lightweight, Dry fit trek pants, and Tshirts
Full sleeves T-shirts are always handy as they can be used to create layers along with short sleeves T-shirts and the top one can be worn and removed according to the altitude.
A fleece jacket and a Wind Proof Lightweight Jacket
A lightweight fleece, and a Warmer jacket for windy or snow terrains
Good Rain Gear
Rain covers for your backpack and A rain Poncho or rain jacket and Pants is what you require. Always opt for good quality Rain covers.
A pair of waterproof Light Gloves
A pair of trekking pole
Shockproof poles One or a Pair is always a good idea to be used while trekking as they minimise any kind of pressure or injury to your knees.
A headlamp is preferred to a torch as it keeps your hands free
Leak Proof water bottles
Neck Warmer and Warm Cap
These are the basic One-time Investments and the gears would keep adding if the level of trek that you plan to attempt changes, with the terrain you wish to attempt. Like while planning to trek to snow peaks you will require to add Gears like Crampons or gaiters.
These gears and pieces of equipment are available on rent at various sites and base camps.
Empty bags ( to bring back dirty clothes, Non-biodegradable waste )
Electrolyte solution Packs
Sunglasses and sunscreen
A great trek Is all about Balance of Gears, Favourable Climate, Terrain.
And A successful Trekker is About Balance of Fit Body and Fit Mind.
The content shared in the post is based on my Partner SM’s previous trek experiences and my personal experiences and some expert inputs from all our previous trek guides.
I would personally like to thank all my trek buddies for a great trek to the Valley of flowers and My team Leader Gaurab for an immense support.