20 Things Every First-Time Hikers & Trekkers Should Know

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Hiking and trekking are great ways to explore the outdoors and get some much-needed exercise. But it’s crucial to be prepared, and even more so if you’re a first-time hiker. You need to get yourself mentally and physically prepared for the challenge. Here are a few beginner tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Nethravathi hiking trail and route

Tips For First-Time Hikers & Trekkers

Read the following points carefully:

  1. Start with a shorter, easier trail, and work your way up to longer, and more challenging routes. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. Always be aware of your environment and aware of your limits.
  2. Plan ahead. Thoroughly research the trail you plan to hike or trek, including its length, difficulty level, and elevation gain.
  3. Don’t expect mobile networks to be functional throughout the trial. Make sure you have a reliable map, a compass, or a GPS device, and learn how to use them effectively. You can download offline maps, maps.me app, or have recorded GPS files handy.
  4. In certain trails, some areas are restricted to civilians, and neither trespassing nor camping is allowed in these areas. So research the trail and get all the required forest and national park permissions prior to starting your hike.
  5. Do not use perfume or any aroma enhancer before setting off for your hike. The odor tends to attract wild animals even from far away distances.
  6. Never ever measure the flow of water visually or by gauging it with an astute peek. The current might appear slow but it usually tends to be much faster than your precursory anticipation. Always be very careful while crossing streams and rivers.
  7. Wear proper clothing and sturdy, supportive footwear —hiking shoes (they come with a very different and more effective grip than running shoes). 
  8. Always check the weather forecast before setting off. In the remote mountains, you can’t often predict the weather correctly. Be prepared for unannounced showers, rains, or any other changes in the weather. In general, we recommend you pack in a manner that has you sorted for both cold and hot weather climates.
  9. Find out about the existence of different fauna and insects in the area. Learn how to safeguard yourself against them. Carry things like bear spray or mosquito spray depending on the area that you hike.
  10. Use a good backpack with reliable chest and hip straps. It takes the load off of your shoulders when you’re hiking. The different compartments also help with storage and easy access.
  11. Ensure you pack light and only the necessary items. First aid and safety kit, toiletries, clothes (depending on the duration of the hike), and other hiking essentials like headtorch, etc., should be given priority. Avoid carrying matchboxes, lighters, or any hazardous and flammable items.
  12. Carry nutritious, high-calorie food that burns fast, and boosts your energy and sufficient water. Refill your bottles in freshwater rivers, streams, or any other natural water bodies found en route. Regardless of the source, it is always prudent that you purify the water by adding purifier tablets or employing filters before drinking.
  13. Learn to adapt. Hope for the best, but ensure that you are well prepared for the worst. You can unexpectedly get lost or injured. Prepare yourself by learning basic first-aid and emergency response techniques and have a plan in place in case of an emergency.
  14. Respect nature, be responsible, and follow the “Leave No Trace” principle.
  15. Pay attention to your surroundings, including the trail ahead and the shifting weather conditions. Be aware of potential hazards, such as steep drop-offs or unstable ground.
  16. Stick to the designated trails. Exploring is great, but do not carelessly wander off. This significantly reduces the risk of getting lost.
  17. Be considerate of other hikers and trekkers. Do not play loud music, or music on your speakers or talk in a loud manner that could disturb others and attract wild animals.
  18. Be aware that you are dependent on nature for peeing and pooping, especially if you’re hiking for multiple days and camping in a tent. 
  19. Hiking and trekking trails are long and that’s the idea. To explore, exercise, and enjoy nature in a manner that only explorers can. So do not ruin the experience by constantly asking how much longer the trail is left. It is always about the next 100 m, not the destination. The journey is the point of the experience. If you feel too tired to carry on, rest up, eat your snacks, recharge, and set off again. It is highly encouraged that you take long walks and build up your stamina before you plan for a hike.  Enjoy the journey and experience.
  20. Inform someone where you are going. It is extremely important to inform your friends, family, or neighbors about your whereabouts – where you’re starting, where you’re ending, and how long it will take you. In case of something unfortunate, these are the people who will do what is required and send someone to look for you. So do ensure you inform someone.

Remember, safety should be your top priority when hiking and trekking, so be prepared and stay aware of your surroundings at all times. With the right preparation and mindset, enjoy your time with nature.

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