How to prepare for your first hike in the Himalayas?
With the social media bustling with pictures of the famous mountains and treks, are you excited to embark on a new adventure, but also a tad bit scared to take the first steps? Well, fret not! Trekking can seem daunting, especially when you’re planning to go on your first trek. But the silver lining is that unlike mountaineering you do not need any prior training. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to prepare for your first trek and all the essentials that you’ll require to make the trek a success.
Step 1 – Choose a Location
As a beginner, make sure to choose a relatively easier trek to see how your body copes, physically and mentally, to the demands of trekking. My first trek was in the lower Himalayas- Nag Tibba. A 1N/2D trek, Nag Tibba is definitely one of the best beginners treks in the Himalayas, I would recommend along with Dayara Bugyal and DeoriaTal – Chandrashila – Chopta. Going to Nag Tibba helped me in understanding the limitations of my body, the logistics involved in trekking and how to respect nature and everything that it has to offer.
Step 2 – Decide between a Solo Trek and a Group Trek
Once you’ve selected your trek, you need to decide whether you want to do a solo trek or with a group.
If you are going solo, you need to clearly check every minute little detail involved in trek from carrying food to having an emergency radio on hand. As a beginner, I would not recommend going on a solo trek even if you are physically deemed fit. It is important to gain experience from people who have acquired knowledge about trekking, mountains and everything related to it.
Step 3 – Choose the right Trek Operator
If you are going with a trek operator or a trek company, choose a credible one. I went to Nag Tibba with a small organic company named Himalaya Shelter and ever since I have booked all my treks with them. Being a solo female trekker, I have never felt unsafe amongst the staff and the groups that I have gone with. Make sure you clear all your doubts with the company you are going with. Contact them and ask them about all the extra essentials that you’ll require if the trek demands something specific.
Step 4 – Start Packing
Now that all the planning and booking is out of your way, it’s time to pack!
To begin with, know that everyone functions differently and that essentials can be a subjective concept ranging from people needing their skin care essentials to those who simply carry a water bottle and an extra pair of clothing. But there are some essentials which are necessary for everyone to carry:
- Durable and waterproof shoes
- Socks ( both thick and normal)
- Trekking Pole
- Refillable Water Bottle – MUST
- Torch (with spare batteries) – Head Torch recommended
- Medical Kit
- Toilet Paper
- Hand Sanitizer
- Swiss Knife
- Munchies ( chocolates / dry fruits / energy bars)
- Tent and Sleeping Bag ( if trekking without a trek operator)
What all would you be needing for your first trek? – Personal Tips and Recommendations
One of the most important things on the trek is to avoid an injury, especially foot injury. Wet feet is one of the most dreaded situations on a trek and hence it is necessary to carry thick socks along with you. Besides socks, make sure to carry a cap, an extra pair of waterproof trousers and a sweat absorbent shirt to avoid heat strokes.
You will also need waterproof shoes with good grip and traction and a trekking pole (just to be on the safer side). The key to understanding a good shoe for you is understanding its durability. Many companies put the label of “waterproof” on their shoes, but it is impossible for a shoe to not get wet after a certain amount of time. What makes a good shoe is its durability.
Water bottle, chocolates and fruits – A lot of people prefer carrying energy drinks on the trek but I find them completely useless as they make me feel more thirsty and dehydrated. Also consumption of Alcohol is a Strict NO NO, specially when you are trekking. I also do not recommend drinking coffee while trekking because of dehydration. Not all companies provide fruits and chocolates so it is always better to be prepared with your extra nutrients!
If you are not trekking with a company, then make sure you get proper sleeping tents, bags and a small stove. You will also need to make a log of your ration.
Torch, personal medicines and a plastic bag to add your waste in – At night, going to the bathrooms or anywhere becomes tricky without a torch, so you can either carry a daily use torch and buy a head torch. Make sure to carry your personal first aid kit and a plastic bag to dump your waste in like wrappers, etc. Also don’t forget Toilet Paper. It comes very handy.
Strictly carry what is essential. Avoid carrying unnecessary items like alcohol and too many clothes. Minimalism is the key to keeping your backpack light.
Swiss knife and pepper spray – As a female traveller, I am always aware of my surroundings and have my gear ready in case of an emergency.
Step 5 – Hop on a bus / train / flight and start the Journey
Jump on that bus or catch a flight or a train and head to a new destination that can surprise you with something you never ever expected!
Ambika is an avid traveller and trekker who loves to hop from one mountain to another. She is extremely passionate about backpacking, mountaineering and adventure sports including skiing and surfing. Currently studying in Delhi University as a political science student, she jumps on a bus whenever possible and tries to find a story in every corner while travelling, penning down her thoughts.