Up for Trekking? - Part:II
First of all, there's no part-I. This concept is inspired by the movie Waisa Bhi Hota Hai - Part: II. No other logic is involved.
Trekking is fun. However, it can be actually fatal if we miss our part of carefulness. So here are some points one can consider before being out to trek the next time:
The book I referred titled "Trekking in India" (by a phirang trekker, yet another crazy lover of the Himalayas) and my domain is also limited to my exposure to trekking (in India only). Moreover, there are some explicit issues that might come into the picture in the case of trekking in India, which otherwise wouldn't (I presume; I've never been out). Before moving ahead, I'd also like to talk about one myth (not completely wrong, though) about trekking.
Trekking is not tough! (that's a fact !=myth) Trekking is no big deal unless you've made up your mind to look at it as a task-I-can-never-accomplish. Though different dictionary meanings of "Trekking" associate it with the term "difficult", it's simply not the case as far as my experience is concerned. My Mom went for her first big trekking Saar-pass (Himalayan Valley, 16 days route, almost 112 km in the valley, involving rock-climbing and river-crossing) at the age of 46, and she's been regularly making it for small and big treks ever since. Mind you she has already broken her leg in the past (which could be fixed only after a complete bed rest of almost 6 months) and has had this permanent knee-pain complaint (some sort of vaa) ever since. Bonus: she also has flat feet! (And so do I, I'm her beloved son you see!) Any issues (whatsoever) we faced during our first treks were simply because of the lack of knowledge about precautions. I'll try to list them all here, some from the book, and all others out of my own experience:
(I'm not sure how synonymous "camping" is with "trekking". I'm talking about "trekking" as in "trekking" that I've been doing in the last some decades. In fact, please bear with my confused jargon, and feel free to refer to some reliable resources if you're seriously looking forward to some instructions for trekking. Just kidding!)
Trekking is a completely different world of activities when compared with our normal life. There are uncertainties, and they have to be faced with courage and determination. Trekking is adventurous and still fun, yet terrains often demand the unexpected. We can only make sure on our part of homework, stick to the rulebook and keep our fingers crossed till we get back to civilization in original shape.
Here are some points you must check before moving for the trek:
- A complete medical check-up prior to starting trekking (and recommendations from your physicians for the same)
- Toning up of the body and acclimatization should be strictly observed. (My personal suggestion is to spare at least a couple of weeks of good body stretching before hitting the adventure. Cycling/jogging can do wonders. Nothing like swimming, if one can take up)
- Collect maximum information about the trek (so as to prepare yourself psychologically as well as physically for the same. No trek's impossible; however, it may demand promising fitness at times. It's better to be prepared than expect the unlikely on-demand miracles. In the mountains, Murphy rules!!)
- It's also advised that patients with asthma and diabetes should restrict their climb up to 3000 meters above sea level (now, it's a magic figure from the book - no clue of the source of information; but if Uncle Sammy's said so, follow it!)
Apart from your body-shaping, there is a list of things you must collect beforehand, before leaving for the trek (from home):
- A small backpack of about 40 lt. It will contain all that you need during the entire trek and will need to be carried by you.
- A good sleeping bag
- A waist-pouch (apart from the camera-holder; for keeping some emergency medicines, matchboxes, storing wrappers, and other non-biodegradable garbage)
- A walking stick (optional; even redundant and a pain in the a$s on times)
- A frontal lamp or an electric torch
- Some sort of self-inflating mattress
- Hiking shoes (Hunter-shoes as we call them in India, I recommend at least one-size extra)
- Extra pairs of shoe-laces
- At least four pairs (my magic figure this time) of good warm socks (if your trek includes snow picks, you will need to put two pairs of socks on for good-fitting shoes and protection from chilling cold)
- A sweater
- A fleece jacket
- A waterproof jacket preferably Gore-Tex (Yes! Apart from the fleece one)
- Good waterproof trousers preferably Gore-Tex (I personally prefer trek-suit pajamas)
- A sufficient number of undergarments (based on the number of trek days; consider the worst-case scenario and stay ready for that as well)
- Caps (sun-cap/hat as well as a monkey cap)
- Sun cream, cold cream
- A water bottle
- Candles (for waterproofing your shoes) and Matchbox
- Keep a handsome amount of medicines (and keep extra to be distributed to local people)
If you're associated with a trekking organization like YHAI (like I am), things become way too easier, since they guide and help trekkers with their baggage. They provide backpacks and sleeping bags; they set the tent for you, they manage the food and the route for the trek, etc. However, if you're on your own then do consider one fact at heights, people often fail to carry the weight of their own worn clothes (and believe me, I've seen people throwing out their favorite Levi's and expensive chinos). There's no room for excess baggage, however, the prerequisites must be met.
Once you've hit the trek, it's just you and Mother Nature! However, to make sure your fun is not spoiled, do take care of the following points:
- Be prepared for emergencies. In case of any severe sickness, provide first aid and immediately make arrangements to bring the patient to the lower area and to the hospital.
- Always protect your body from sudden changing weather.
- Use well-broken comfortable walking shoes.
- Keep all the equipment and foodstuff in order.
- The campsite should be preferably near the source of drinking water. (In case you have the option to select the site)
- Never camp under trees. (again, subject to options)
- Pitch the tent on an inclined surface and dig a small trench around it.
- Set off for a trek early in the morning, fording a stream will be easier at that time.
- After finishing cooking or after packing up the kitchen, extinguish the fire completely, especially while camping in forests.
- Clean the campsite before setting off and dispose of waste and litter to protect the natural beauty of the area.
- Always recheck the first aid kit before starting off for the next camp.
While going through this book "Trekking in India", I was repeatedly reminded that "India is here to change you not for you to change her". The author obviously had had better insight into the life and civilization in the Himalayas and he actually understood the importance of preservation of the same. The last part of the article is simply Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V from the book. The reason is it's not just the foreigners, but also the Indians (on more occasions statistically) who often miss on their responsibility (while exploiting their right to enjoy nature). Here are some dos and dont's for trekking in Indian Valley:
- Respect local traditions, customs, values, and sentiments to help them protect local culture and maintain local pride.
- Respect privacy when taking photographs
- Respect holy places
- Refrain from giving money to children as it encourages begging
- Respect for the local etiquette earns you respect
- Let the Himalayas change you - Do not change them
- Protect the natural environment
- Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it
- Limit deforestation - make no open fires
- Burn dry paper and packets in a safe place
- Keep local water clean and avoid using pollutants
- Plants should be left to flourish in their natural environment (don't pluck/cut their branches, or entire plants for clearing your path. Kindly move them aside, and place them back after you're done)
- Have a break and give the World one!