Wednesday, July 29, 2015

7 tips for the new hiker

In my last post I provided 7 travel tips for the new backpacker, so for this post I thought I would continue the trend.  Having done quite a few hikes now in my three months of travel, I have learnt some tips that should make your hike a lot more enjoyable and much less frustrating.  

These tips are outlined below, but first I would like to give you a call to action: if you haven't done much hiking or mountaineering yet, give it a go.  Hiking is one of the most rewarding activities you can do, both at home and abroad.  It is something that the benefit you get out of it depends on the effort you put into it.  Nature is something that is extremely precious and the natural wonders that exist all around the world are absolutely phenomenal. I firmly believe the quote: "The bigger the challenge, the greater the reward".

1. Invest in a proper detailed map, you won't regret it.
By definition, backpackers are on a budget.  They won't pay for something unless it is absolutely necessary. I was the same and refused to pay money for a map, especially when the hostel had free ones.  However, these free maps just don't cut it.  If you are serious about the hike, it is important that you know where to go, as well as the quality and difficulty of the track that you are attempting to conquer.  Many times I have had to hike around in circles for three hours just to find the correct track. I have also ended up on a track that led me to a cliff face with loose rocks and trees blocking the way. A few extra dollars for a map would have cut all of this trouble out.

2. If it doesn't look like a well used track, it isn't.
Unfortunately some tracks that you want to hike down aren't well marked.  Often there are tracks leading off the path you are on in the direction that you think you need to go.  However, through my experience of ending up in the middle of a forest or down by a creek with no track in sight, it is important that you only follow tracks that look well used.  Again, a detailed map will help out here.

3. Take more water than you think you will ever need. 
Hiking can be extremely hot and very tiring.  As such, you will need more water than you thought, guaranteed.

4. Plan ahead. Use huts or campsites along the mountain.
Many backpackers travel without a concrete plan.  This can be very rewarding and flexible, however there will always be things that you wish you had of known about earlier. This is one of those cases, and throughout the hike I kept hearing about huts that are strategically placed throughout the mountains. They are extremely cosy with great food and drinks and relatively cheap accommodation. Staying in these huts will allow you to see more of the mountains and hike a lot further in more interesting terrain.  Some less touristy national parks also provide free shelter in huts along the mountain.

5. Face your fear
You can do so much more than you think. Trust your instincts, take your time, and be rewarded when you make it.

6. Respect the mountain and other people.
As always, you need to be aware of your surroundings.  Mountains can be unpredictable and can be very unforgiving if you aren't careful. So can people for that matter! Be aware that there are other people on the hike and are there to be in nature and to enjoy some really special scenery.

7. Keep concentrating even when you are almost home
I like to run down the mountain hikes in order to challenge myself and have a bit of fun.  However, this requires a lot of concentration to ensure you don't injure yourself.  In my experience, hiking is comparable to traffic accidents, where one in three accidents happen only 2km away from home.  I have similarly injured myself because I relaxed and lost concentration once I thought that the track was safe and close to home.

So there you have it!  If you have any other tips, please feel free to share them in the comments below.  In the meantime, make sure you are living life to the fullest and get out into the mountains and do some hiking.  It is one of the most rewarding hobbies and is also free... even better :)

No comments:

Post a Comment