THE preparation phase for a multi day trek is just as important as actually doing it. A bit of time spent planning and organising packs, gear, food and other details could be the difference between an enjoyable trek and biting off more than you can handle.
1. Get fit
Unless you’re 21-years-old or an avid sportsperson, you’re probably not going to be ready to just start walking tomorrow if it’s a multi day trek. Even for those that have a solid fitness, multi day walking can be a challenge. Building a fitness base can be fun particularly when you involve family and friends. Take your pack out on day hikes and get used to how it feels, break in your shoes so they are comfortable and try out walking gear and other equipment.
2. Pack light
Taking all the right gear is important but not when it weighs you down so you can hardly walk. On some trips being self sufficient is very important and it can mean lugging around a lot of food, tents, stoves etc for awhile. Be ruthless going through what you need, see if you can do food drops, or purchase items you need along the way. A rule of thumb is not to carry more than 20% of your body weight; some would recommend even less. Try to share items amongst your fellow hikers as much as possible eg. tent, toothpaste and toiletries, stoves etc.
3. Know your food intake
This can be hard when you aren’t familiar with some of the food items you might be taking with you – eg. freeze dried meals. It can be a good idea to sample meal sizes first as there’s nothing worse than not taking enough food, or taking far too much that you have to lug around.
4. Study the maps
The terrain, altitude gains and drops are all important on multi day walks. You may only hike 10km but if you have to climb over 1000m in altitude that may well be enough. On days when the terrain is flatter you might want to stretch out to 20-25km easily. Studying the maps isn’t enough, you must take it with you – preferably in a waterproof protective cover – with a compass.
5. Read trip notes
There are blogs and websites out on all key hiking routes and even lesser ones. Study what other people did, note the sections they found easy and hard, and make your preparations.
6. Understand the weather
Walking in the high Himalaya or the deserts of Australia may pose very different weather patterns to where you may live. Altitude, extreme hot or cold temperatures, wind, rain and snow can be factors that you need to be ready for.
7. Walk slowly
On a lot of walks people get into trouble usually when they are trying to finish something too quickly. Take it easy and you’ll enjoy it all the more.
8. With or without a guide
In some national parks it’s imperative to have a guide, and often for good reason, so obey the rules. Where the choice is left up to you, you’ll have to make a decision. If you’re a well seasoned trekker and don’t mind heading out alone you may feel comfortable. On many trails in high season that isn’t a problem. If the location is remote or you are under experienced it may be best to be in a group – people often post on forums if they want a trekking partner – or to find a local guide to assist you.
9. Walking ideas
Countries like Nepal and New Zealand are renowned for their walking tracks. But did you know about the Great Walks of Australia (check this post for more ideas also, or this one on the Overland Track), south east Asia’s highest peak Mt Kinabalu, or even far flung mountains like Ramelau in East Timor? There’s plenty out there to climb and trek. Enjoy.