Hiking is one of the favorite sports activities of many travelers for various reasons. On the one hand, it is easy to achieve, although it gives the opportunity to do so at different levels of difficulty. It is an activity that can be done in company, that allows you to enjoy the outdoors and, above all, that gives you the opportunity to discover a new nature course at each outing.
Here are some recommendations you can follow on your hikes to enjoy the experience and avoid problems.
What you need to know if you're starting to hike
Short or long road, what's the difference?
Some experts say that a trail becomes "long" when it reaches distances of more than 50 km, although some experienced hikers consider this distance to be a short walk. Others think that the ideal is to cover hundreds of kilometers over several months.
Personally, I would say that the important thing is to know or discover your own limit or your hike becomes perhaps more enjoyable.
The important thing is that, whether the journey is short or long, you feel good, strong and satisfied that you have achieved the goal you have set for yourself and that your mental and physical health benefits from it.
Do you have to be an experienced athlete to go hiking?
Not at all. Ideally, you should be a regular walker before you start walking. However, the most important thing to practice this activity is to have a strong and open mind, a strong will and a flexible nature to face the different levels of difficulties (height, elevation) and be resistant to assume the time to walk your path.
Very often, we see middle-aged or retired hikers, or even the elderly. They often find themselves at a crossroads of life, looking for new challenges, new answers, eager for change and new experiences. Hikers who, for example, hike more than 600 km have one thing in common: they really wanted to do it.
So if you have that motivation, go ahead, start now!
Prepare to be away from home for a while
If you have made the decision and your mind has this goal, you can look for classic, well-known ways. Find people in your situation (for example in Facebook groups, on the web, in tourist centers, on mobile apps)who have the same goals as you, people who will accompany and encourage you during the trip. Some trail routes can last several months, others will be shorter, depending on your goals and desires, the time you have, the level of difficulty (height, elevation) and the time to get to the trail.
Long-distance trails with steep slopes offer unforgettable experiences, challenges and new places to explore. They can change your life.
Plan your itinerary before you leave your home
Do it with care
You can actually spend more time planning than on the road. You should start researching and planning your itinerary maybe a year in advance so as not to overlook any details.
Check the permits you need to collect (depending on the region or country you choose) and save enough money to cover all your needs.
If you wish, you can take a compass or GPS with you and have the trail guides and maps printed.
Make a list of the luggage you will take with you for your adventure. But in general, don't forget to include:
- A comfortable and spacious backpack (hopefully, you've already tried it).
- A light and warm sleeping bag.
- Trekking clothing.
- Proper nutrition to avoid hunger and adequate nutrition.
- Light, durable and waterproof tent.
- Hydration sufficient; Water is ideal.
- Assess very well the weight you want and can carry. Many hikers use light or ultralight equipment; they carry only essential things and sleep in canvases or hammocks instead of tents.
- If you have any doubts, you can check out information and blogs on the Internet where they will give you many details about the essential items in your backpack.
Is it better to go hiking alone, with a friend or to be part of a group?
Those who apparently walk the most popular long trails alone usually do so alone. A wonderful social scene is developing on these trails; a subculture, so to speak. The experience of meeting new and interesting people, creating friendships, bonds of solidarity and companionship while experiencing moments of adversity and joy, will be very common in these paths. So if you go "alone" you'll never really be alone.
Now, if you're planning a trip with friends, relatives or your spouse, think about it. Be very aware and realistic about whether your relationship with this person or your group of friends is strong enough to withstand the trials and tribulations that may occur on the trail for weeks or even months.
If you decide to go with someone, the long trip will be a reason for success or also a reason for distance. It will be a space to get to know each other really and see all the reactions to unexpected challenges, long walking days and long nights in unknown places.
Will you have problems walking long distances?
It all depends on how you think about it and the planning you've done. It also depends on your willingness to face time, your level of endurance,the equipment you have and your attitude.
With these considerations, think that many long trails cross cities with medical services and all the other comforts of civilization. You can always take a break and spend a few nights at the hotel. In addition, in some trails, there is a network of something like "angels of the way", people who can help you, advise you, cover some of your needs and even offer you "candy" to recover your energy.
How do you prepare before you leave?
During the period before walking (simultaneous to walking planning), you can train constantly to keep up the pace. It must be well oriented, disciplined and have clear walking goals that can be achieved daily so that you can get used to it. Make sure you can do this training with your hiker behind you to measure your strength and the weight you can carry on the trail.
Other basic tips for practicing
1. Preparing the itinerary
2. Weather information
In addition to knowing the general conditions of the territory through which we will transit, it is very important to know whether the weather will be on our side. There are weather conditions that prevent hiking and others that, although they make it difficult, can be saved if we take appropriate measures in terms of equipment. Let's make sure that walking will not be hampered by the lack of visibility caused by dense fog or torrential rains, just as we must pay attention to high temperatures.
3. Hiking shoes and clothing
Not just any trekking shoes. And not only do we have to avoid heels or shoes out of sheer logic, but also shoes with thin soles will be very uncomfortable for us. The ideal is to have shoes adapted to the mountain, with a thick sole, which supports the ankle and is waterproof. Ankle sprains and skids are the most common accidents during hiking. Similarly, the clothes must be adequate, you must wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move well and you must be prepared with a little warmth in case a change of weather surprises you.