Do you get tired of the hubbub in the city and want to get lost in nature for a bit of peace and quiet? If you do, I’m sure you’ve considered going for a trek.
Walking through nature, breathing in the colourful, mysterious flowers, washing your feet in the small bubbling stream after crossing a muddy patch and smiling at locals as you pass by all combine to form the perfect natural immersion but at the same time, there are elements that you don’t want to experience again. Branches slapping your face because the person in front of you is inconsiderate, dragging your feet because the mud added half a kilo to your shoes, getting yelled at by people for trespassing and being desperately lost because your according to your compass, you’re supposed to cross a river whose currents could smash your head open on a rock when there’s not a bridge in sight are probably memories you don’t want to relive while passing your trekking knowledge on to your grandchildren.
So, I’m going to give you a few tips on how to avoid mishaps and have an enjoyable, injury free time.
When you’re conquering mountains, the last thing you want to do is drag a huge backpack behind you, constantly untangling branches and thorns from it. However, you are going to need sufficient water and food and as much as I love them, only chocolates and candies are not enough. Carrying one big bag and rotating the duty of holding it sounds like a good idea but all it’s going to do is tire one person out and slow down the entire group because they need to keep up with them. Rather, everyone should carry a small bag with a variety of lightweight food. Packets of rice or wheat puffs are both nutritious and tasty and are perfect for a quick bite. Don’t empty them into boxes because they’ll weigh a lot more than the packets. To save space, deflate the packet by poking a hole through it and then covering the hole with tape or just folding it. You can also salvage water by having candy or chewing gum to satiate your thirst.
More important than anything else are the people you’re trekking with. You don’t want to be stranded with someone you hate or celebrate at the peak with someone who slowed you down and killed your enthusiasm. Trekking with friends is most enjoyable because they won’t steal your food, they’ll share water, when you snap at them because you’re tired and your feet hurt, they’ll understand and most importantly, you’ll will have the coordination and cooperation essential for making critical navigational decisions. Also, if you’re having fun while walking, the weariness gets lost in the laughter and the stomach hurts more than the feet.
Be resourceful, not foolish
On hikes, we generally rely on our map and compass but sometimes, they can fail and lead us in the wrong direction or you can make a mistake while reading them. Instead of blaming each other or throwing the compass in frustration, look around and make use of what you see. If you see people, talk to them and ask for directions. If there are sign boards then look for those places in the map and try to figure out where you are. Often, trees that are painted with numbers are marked on the map as well. Look for small clues that can help you orient yourself and then decide on one plan of action. Always try to get back to your original path instead of finding a new path from somewhere else.
Other problems that can arise are a shortage of water and food. If you’re thirsty, drinking lake water that you can clearly see mud floating in, is not the best idea. You could carry carbon filter bottles that would make any water drinkable but it’s still risky so refrain from using sources that you’re not sure of. Ask locals for food and carry some money on you to pay them back. They’re generally helpful, especially if they are getting something in return.
I know it’s difficult to look up when you’re trying to place your foot in the right spot and not fall but the whole objective of the trek is to explore the nature around you. While focusing on the stones beneath your feet, you’re missing out on vast plains, rocky hillocks and other beautiful scenery. The local life also forms a part of the landscape. If you’re trekking in rural areas, you might get to see an example of the irrigation systems that you learnt about in tenth grade. If you look up, you’d notice the small houses and vast farms, their simple clothing and their self-sufficient lifestyle. If you’re on a mountain, you might come across rare trees or a cave and find interesting markings on the stones. If you look closely you might even see some animals while making your way through the trees.
Instead of taking pictures and disturbing the purity of nature, just look at these sights and preserve them in the concrete jungle of your mind.
[Written by Niyoshi Parekh]Hiking Mistrek