Sunday, 30 March 2014

Secrets of hiking - general tips for newbies / beginners



Hiking | Mountain trekking, View of the pathway


All the people that have few hikes behind their backs will laugh at this post, but nevertheless there are many newbies who are willing to go for their first group walk. There are some common beginner misconceptions and things that can enhance your experience. My basic personal tips and tricks are as follows:

Suitable hiking shoesShoes factor: I have witnessed people walking on a small cliff with flip-flops (guys think for your families not for yourself) or women on high-heels heading for their Sunday forest walk. Best hiking shoes are the ones that keep your ankles stable. See the picture below. Walk with them beforehand if they are brand new. Trainers or sneakers are not productive due to the fact that the terrain will be rough. You might want to check out this website to decide which the best hiking boots for you are. Oh yeah, socks should not be very thin otherwise blisters are likely to appear.

Packing strategy: There are variations but follow simple rule: bottom – heavy stuff, middle – food and warm clothes, top – snacks, toilet tissue things you would reach for more frequently (flask of whiskey, hehe). As for food, make sure to take a bit more than needed. Take into consideration the period you will spend hiking and whether there will be food stores, restaurants on your way. One thing I often do is just put everything in black plastic bags so that it stays dry.

Sun cream: ..What do you mean by that, I am not surfing on a Rio beach, for god’s sake? Right, but when you are exposed for a longer period to the sun (coupled with low bathing chances) your skin will be itchy and scratchy.

Standing, not sitting: You have just conquered the hill so time to relax and chill out. From my personal experience it is much better just to stand upright and normalise your breathing. This is valid for the short breaks, but if you intend to have a lunch or are completely exhausted - sit down and take your time.


Orientation and hiking trails: If you are completely new few tricks you might have heard. Moss points north, the sun rises from.....(fill the blanks). From time to time when the area you want to cover is not that vast you can rely on your sense of direction. Just when you are on a higher ground note the main pinpoints (marks) and walk towards them. I want to underline: refrain from making assumptions when you are in a not so populated area with few routes and nobody to ask. Well, if you are going in the wilderness you should use compass and map, or GPS instead. Me, myself never used the latter but it’s up to you.


The necessary caloric bomb: Well after you are on the verge of collapse you need to compensate for the lost energy. Feel free to take oats, nuts, fruits and sweets with you, let the tiger out, around the camp fire. Which doesn't mean fill your stomach and then straight start climbing, you should feel light and comfortable.
               Water goes without saying! Refresh your mouth first and then swallow.
By the way sodas and beer are OK AFTER the hike and the meal so that you replenish your level of salts and nutrients. Beer is good to bring back the superpowers and to rehydrate the body but don’t go wild.
       
One last advice: approach the mountains with caution and respect. Don’t think that you are Rambo and will overcome earth, wind and fire. Mother Earth is stronger than us.

Mountain view

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