It grows on you, the love for altitude, love for scaling up the treacherous pathways in attempt to achieve something as great as the creation of mountains on this Earth. As they say, climb not so that the world can see you but so you can see the world.
Honestly, the first time I started trekking (that too after living more than two decades of unhealthy city life) – I was constantly regretting my decision for putting my body through such uncomfortable conditions throughout that session but unfortunately I couldn’t back out from any of the plans as there wasn’t one but multiple treks awaiting us and I didn’t want to be the one left behind so I continued. And to my surprise, with each passing day, my frustration started reducing, so much that my body just wouldn’t like being at rest. It craved for action, craved for hills to climb, rough terrains to cross and limits to be pushed. Although I would still curse every time I would run out of breath or collapse on some meadow, but I knew I had become an addict because that dis-ease made me immensely happy and gave me bliss, that was unknown to me until then.
And then of course, there was no looking back, yet the fact remains that I am no born mountaineer nor do I have their excellent stamina to match. Despite all workouts and health regimes, the unhealthy city life still remains somewhere, making it a tad bit strenuous to pursue my love for trekking even now.
So how to combat such issuea and yet enjoy an activity as rigorous as Trekking.
Below are some prepping techniques that one can apply to make it less of a hassle and more memorable instead:
Daily 30 – Minute Walk + Leg Exercises
Make it a habit! start small by walking regularly for at least half an hour. It is not only a great way to keep the body active, although it’s not close to hiking at all, but it gets your metabolism rolling and you’ll notice wanting to increase the time frame as your body starts to enjoy this simple workout. Plus brisk walking is excellent for keeping a blood flow and burning those calories real quick and easy.
Also add leg presses, squats and lunges to your regular exercises to get those muscles sturdy and ready.
Invest in Good Hiking Shoes
Your feet are the your primary source of transportation from one end to another, the comfort (or discomfort) of your shoes has a great impact on your stamina and motivation to continue a certain trek
I once made the mistake of hiking in regular sneakers and had a slip on the way down coz, duhh those don’t come with extraordinary grip for steep descents and Boom! I was on the ground spraining an ankle pretty bad. From then on, I make it a point to wear my hiking boots however small a hike is.
Where good quality shoes can have a pretty big hit on the pocket, another simpler solution is to buy these shoes from places like Hunza, Skardu, Shimshal etc. They have second hand shoes at literally a 70% price fall and they’re in perfect condition. I got mine from Hunza for a mere Rs. 600/- some 4 yeas ago and I’ve been proudly using them for all my treks since then.
Pro Tip: Always wear shoes that are properly fit and worn in several times – never wear new shoes to a trek!
Use Trekking Poles
This is a must for all level of trekkers. There’s nothing to feel embarrassed in using some help. Know that even the most advanced ones have to use poles on rough terrain – don’t try to be a hero unnecessarily and then regret later by straining your ankles or putting undue pressure on your knees. Poles help spread out your weight on the ground and give you a good grip in case of a slippery terrain. Spreading the weight is important as it protects your feet from getting strained alone by all your weight.
This helps build breathing stamina and also strengthens thigh muscles and glutes. Just gradually increase the pace and duration of the climb to get your body used to rising heights. It’s alright if you pant for air too soon, I do too and that’s mainly due to my sinus issue that keeps my nose majorly blocked making it difficult to breath and talk while ascending heights. Normalizing your eating habits and increasing activity methods will gradually reduce this problem as well.
Also if you’re coming from a polluted city like Karachi, chances are you definitely have nasal problems, hence it’s always advisable to keep the nose covered during treks to protect the nasal pipe from getting dry too soon.
Practice Using Your Backpack
Get yourself a suitable sized backpack according to your height and weight and carry it to your practice trails every now and then. Make sure to have to those straps set in place around your chest and shoulders and that they’re neither too tight nor too sloppy.
Using Heel Push Method
This is just a smart tool to avoid your feet from hurting a lot during ascends. A large number of people exert pressure on their toes while climbing uphill, which results in getting tired pretty quick and also hurting feet. Hence the best way is to exert pressure on your heels instead of toes with a slight bounce that enables you to take larger steps with relatively less effort avoiding damage to the toes.
As the body goes through an extensive continuous motion for long hours, it’s bound to sweat a lot thus resulting in loss of necessary salts and energy depletion. To fulfill that, just water simply doesn’t help. Carrying a few sachets of ORS with you is of great use. Keep roughly 1:3 ratio of ORS and water and take a few sips at a time as large intake of salts is going to dry your mouth faster making you want more too soon. This works as an instant energy boost and gets you refreshed!
Eating too much before any extensive activity is always a no no. But then eating light doesn’t mean we fill ourselves with Amy kind of junk. Instead go natural!
Did you know that dried apricots, that are abundantly available in the North are probably your greatest food buddy for treks along with other items like dates, tamarind (for nausea) and dry fruits.
Dried apricots being the best and most recommended food source as they’re high in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that give your body endurance, energy and stamina. Probably the best for brain, heart and bone health. It’s also highly suggested to eat these in case of altitude sickness as it’s juice helps stabilize blood pressure levels.
Get A Fit Kit
If you’re spending so much energy, time and money on planning a trek, might as well spend on buying suitable attire for the journey as well. Keep the terrain and temperature in mind and don’t get too layered up as trekking makes you sweat heavily and you can’t burden yourself with tight and heavy clothing. Instead wear the most comfortable but durable attire that is stretchable and airy; unless you’re going for a snow trek which requires a totally different kind of clothing and must certainly include best quality down jackets, gaiters and downers.
By following the tips above, not only will you be well prepared for possibly a trip of a lifetime but you’ll get so much more out of your trekking experience.
Have something to add? Please add in the comments below!