Beautiful views of mountains and forests, warm fellowship around the fire, sleeping under the starry sky – the romance of hiking attracts more and more people. But you should prepare for a hike in advance. A carelessly packed backpack and an unsuccessfully chosen route can spoil the trip. This article will discuss how to plan the perfect hiking trip.
What are the best mountains for a first hiking trip?
For your first hike, it is best to choose mountains with a moderate level of difficulty and well-developed trails. Bookatrekking has a few recommendations:
Toubkal, Morocco. It offers plenty of easy-to-moderate trails, as well as beautiful views and an abundance of wildlife.
Meru, Tanzania. Here, you can choose short sections of this trail for a day or multi-day trek.
Alps, Austria. Some regions in the Austrian Alps, such as Salzburg and Tyrol, offer excellent routes for beginner climbers. You’ll find well-equipped trails with gorgeous scenery.
Matterhorn, Switzerland. This country offers many hiking opportunities of varying difficulty. You can start with easier routes.
Dolomite Alps, Italy. These mountains are famous for their incredible beauty and well-designed hiking and trekking trails. You will find trails for different levels of fitness.
Before starting a hike in any mountains, it is important to familiarize yourself with the weather conditions, choose the right equipment, and, if necessary, hire an experienced guide or instructor. Remember that safety should always come first. And now, we will discuss how to plan the perfect hiking trip.
Get ready for a hiking trip and leave everything behind
To have a successful hike, you should plan it in advance. Clothes, shoes, backpack, and equipment should meet both the weather conditions and the specifics of the route. Some ideal and universal set does not exist.
Beginners often forget that hikes are different. The choice of footwear depends on the peculiarities of the route. For example, dew often falls in the Carpathians. Therefore, you should ensure the shoes do not get wet during the hike.
Another mistake beginners often make is an attempt to take an example from popular travelers. Beginners think that if some famous travel blogger passed the Himalayas in the same shoes, they would also be comfortable in the same shoes in the Carpathians.
But this approach does not work in real life because what was comfortable in the Himalayas will not suit the Carpathians. Therefore, as for the choice of clothing, equipment, and footwear, beginners should consult with an experienced instructor. A person who knows the planned route well can give useful advice.
The most common mistake of beginners is an overloaded backpack. They take a lot of unnecessary and heavy things. The same thing can be both light and heavy.
For example, a bowl, a mug, clothes. A spoon can weigh either ten grams or thirty grams. Beginners, as a rule, do not think about this at all. They just take a spoon, which is not sorry to lose.
But the heavy backpack is made up of a lot of light stuff. And something heavy in the backpack may not even be there. Beginners don’t realize that.
They don’t think they can save on weight. So what if something is 700 grams? But when there are a lot of such items, the total weight is too much.
Experienced hikers always try to reduce their backpack`s weight. For example, some cut off the handle of the toothbrush. It often loses more than half of its own weight. That’s a wonderful result. You save more than 50% by doing something as simple as that.
Also, beginners make a big mistake when they underestimate the dangers of rain and don’t bring a good raincoat that can protect them from the weather. They focus on urban conditions where you can just come home and change wet clothes. But this is not going to happen on a hiking trip. There may be a situation where it rains for several days.
Plan the route and adequately assess your strengths
Before going on a hike, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with all the details of the route. This will allow you to avoid unpleasant situations when the route is too difficult or long.
All participants of the hiking trip must be informed of the trip’s details – the route, kilometerage, and complexity. They also must be informed whether they can take children with them.
In many ways, the success of a hike depends on whether there are experienced hikers around. Because if beginners are going on a trip, they can make many organizational mistakes.
Experienced guides can avoid mistakes during the hike. For example, they can tell you how to set up your tent correctly. An unsuccessfully chosen sleeping place can lead to big problems. The same rain and wind can both get tourists wet and blow their tents down.
It is also worth remembering that some routes may be beyond the strength of beginners. For example, in winter, the Carpathians are very beautiful. But at the same time, it is complicated and dangerous to travel there.
That’s why going for the first hiking trip in winter is not recommended. In summer, the mountains are more friendly to beginners.
Consider the human factor
The atmosphere of the hike also depends a lot on the people themselves. Experienced hikers advise assembling groups where all participants are more or less equal in strength and ambition. They should also clearly recognize the nature of the hike itself.
After all, some people seek athletic achievements and the opportunity to assert themselves. They will measure daily how many kilometers they have traveled and how high they have climbed in the mountains.
Others will enjoy the hike itself and admire the scenery. They don’t need such achievements.
Conflicts can arise when someone asks to rest, but a clearly defined plan already exists. In reality, this rarely happens because the trek has rest points.
Also, households can raise disputes. That’s why it’s better to discuss the details of camping in advance and distribute roles – who is responsible for cooking and who will collect firewood and maintain the fire. The group can start chaos if you do not clearly voice such details.
The leader’s authority and how much others recognize him are very important. If, for some reason, the manager cannot be a leader, that is a problem.
There is also another important point: you need to make a clear route plan. And everyone must clearly understand where we are going, at what time, why, when we wake up, etc. Often, people miss it.
With a clear hiking route plan, problems can be avoided. People should clearly understand all the details of their route and not get their hopes up. Then, the hike will be much more rewarding and enjoyable for everyone involved.
What to bring for a hiking trip?
Being well-prepared is important to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience when setting out for a hike. Here’s a checklist of essential items to consider bringing:
The 10 Essentials. Many hikers adhere to the “10 Essentials” guideline for hiking, as the American Hiking Society recommends. These items include rain gear, shelter, a knife, and more. Carrying these basics can provide you with peace of mind on the trail.
Food. Hiking can be physically demanding, burning around 900 calories per hour during strenuous uphill climbs. Pack enough food to keep your energy levels up. Opt for energy-rich options like honey-based snacks or protein-packed foods like nuts and jerky.
Water (with a water filter). Start with at least a liter for every two miles of your hike, adjusting based on your personal consumption. Staying hydrated is crucial, so drink water regularly, even before you feel thirsty. If you’re going near streams or rivers, a water filter can be a handy tool for refilling your supply.
Appropriate clothing. While a complete change of clothes might not be necessary for a day hike, prepare for varying temperatures, including cooler evenings. Always carry a rain and wind jacket, even if the forecast predicts sunny weather.
Optional extras. Personalize your hiking experience by bringing items that cater to your interests. If you enjoy birdwatching, pack binoculars. Artists can bring a sketchbook and pencils. Keeping a trail log can also be a fun way to document your hikes.
For more extensive backpacking or overnight hiking trips, you’ll need a broader range of equipment, such as a larger backpack, cooking supplies, a tent, extra clothing, and possibly items for wildlife encounters like bear bins or bear spray.
Key safety considerations for a hiking trip
Here are some crucial safety tips that demand special attention:
Have a clear plan. Prior to hitting the trail, always establish a well-defined plan. Knowing the specific trail you intend to take is vital for packing and preparation. Equally important is informing someone trustworthy about your plans, including your intended route and estimated return time. This person becomes your safety net in case of unforeseen circumstances.
First aid. A first aid kit should be a constant companion on your hikes. Familiarize yourself with its contents and know how to use them. Accidents can happen on short, one-mile hikes just as easily as on longer, more challenging ones.
Rescue preparedness. Understand how to summon help should the need arise. Keep emergency rescue service contact numbers readily available, and have a backup communication plan for areas with poor or no cell service. Investing in satellite communication devices like Garmin InReach or Spot X can be a wise choice for frequent hikers. Carrying a whistle is another lightweight yet effective tool for alerting nearby individuals to your presence if necessary.
Respect for nature. While wildlife typically avoids human contact, being aware of potential encounters is important. In bear country, make noise to alert bears to your presence, and carry bear spray as a precaution. In areas with rattlesnakes, opt for ankle boots. When hiking in regions with poisonous plants, safeguard yourself by wearing long pants, tall socks, or gaiters to prevent accidental contact.
Remember, prioritizing safety is fundamental to enjoying your hiking adventures to the fullest.
Planning the perfect hiking trip is not just about selecting the right destination and packing the necessary gear; it’s a holistic process that involves careful consideration of various factors. From researching the trail and understanding weather conditions to preparing physically and mentally, numerous elements are needed to ensure a successful and enjoyable hiking experience.
Remember that safety should always be a top priority, and it’s crucial to inform someone of your itinerary and expected return time before setting out on your adventure. Additionally, embracing Leave No Trace principles ensures that you preserve the natural beauty of your hiking destinations for future generations to enjoy.
Ultimately, the perfect hiking trip is not solely about reaching the summit or completing a challenging trail. It’s about the journey, connection with nature, personal growth, and memories created along the way.
So, take the time to plan meticulously, be flexible when needed, and savor every moment of your hiking expedition. With the right planning and mindset, you can embark on unforgettable adventures and forge a deeper connection with the great outdoors. Happy hiking!