“The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”. As of 2003, it has been observed every year to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.”
Thus reads the backgrounder on International Mountain Day as posted on the UN website.
Sure, you could argue a case for an overload of ‘Days’ in your calendar – there’s everything from a Chocolate Day to ‘Hug Your Teddy Bear Day’ (we are sure).
But you could alternately rejoice at the fact that there is at least one day that celebrates not a frivolous made-up occurrence, but an element of nature (because, that’s rather rare.)
There are few things in life that compare to the joy of a trek. That sheer burst of happiness when the chill breeze brushes your cheek, that absolute satisfaction when you reach your destination after a long, hard climb – these are hard to explain and can only be experienced.
But here’s what you should know – trekking isn’t just about reaching your summit, it’s also about your journey. Your trek score soars only if you’ve done all your homework beforehand.
Basic tips, such as lining your backpack with a polythene bag, backpack storage tips , et al, have been repeated time and time again. So, we aren’t going to bore you with these. Instead, here are some real rad hacks that experienced trekkers follow.
And yes, you can totally thank us for these at the end of your trip!
Head Strap Torch
We won’t be saying anything new if we tell you about the absolute necessity of carrying torches on a trek. But what you need to do is think out of the box and carry head strap torches.
When you are on the climb in low-lit areas, you will be holding the hiking stick in one hand and will have to hold the torch in the other. But, you need to keep at least one hand free to balance yourself. This is where the head strap torch proves a boon.
Buy One Size Bigger Shoes
When you trek the mountains, your legs are your best friends. You become dependent on them to complete your trek, so keeping them happy is top priority!
There are a lot of pointers to keep in mind while buying your trekking shoes – from quality to comfort. Exercise a little foresight and do a bit of research on the terrain and weather conditions as well. Also, as any experienced trekker will tell you, it’s advisable to get shoes that are one size larger for comfort. Sometimes, legs tend to swell while trekking and so wearing the exact fit would be uncomfortable.
Avoid Pain Killers in High Altitude Climbs
When you are climbing those snow-clad peaks, pain killers are a strict no-no. But if you have to take some,inform your fellow trekkers or the team lead in advance. Certain medicines have sideeffects because of the altitude (less oxygen areas).
Carry Glucose Shots and Dry Fruits
This is definitely a lifesaver!
Small titbits such as these help amp up your energy levels during the climb. Glucose, dry fruits or even small pieces of chocolate help restore energy that you’re constantly losing during the climb. So don’t forget to stuff your backpack with these – particularly since they also double up as energy boosters!
Take Small Sips of Water
When on a climb you will feel thirsty at short intervals. This is because we tend to breathe through our mouth while ascending and thus the moisture evaporates, leaving us thirsty. At this time DO NOT gulp down water.
The trick here is to take just a small sip and roll that around in your mouth for as long as possible. This helps in two ways – first, it tends to quench the thirst keeping the mouth wet and second, it saves water.
We’re sure we don’t need to tell you that the higher you climb, the more scorching the sun’s rays will get. So whether you trek to the coldest of places or the hottest of them, sunglasses are a must to protect your eyes.
Sure, this sounds funny and totally banal and unnecessary – but trust us, you’ll thank us for this later! Carrying chappals is as essential a trekking hack as any. Remember, your feet will need a break from the hard, unyielding grip of the trekking shoes – which is why, when you’ve camped at night, you can slip into these chappals for some much-needed comfort.
Bonus tip? Remove your shoes whenever you take a break for more than half an hour. And if there is a stream nearby, dip your feet in for a while. This will ensure your feet are safe from blisters.
Sesame Seed Oil to Keep Your Feet Warm
Seasoned trekkers will advise you to carry sesame seed oil if you are heading to really cold places – and for good reason. Rub the oil on those tired feet before getting into your sleeping bag and you will stay warm the entire night.
(A die-hard romantic and foodie, Sneha turned into a storyteller after her trekking expedition in the Himalayas while conquering the Chanderkhani Pass. Currently, she is busy ticking off things to do and places to visit from her bucket list. Also, you will never hear her say “I have travelled enough”.)
(This travel season The Quint reposts this piece from our archives, originally published on 11 December 2015.)
Join The Quint on WhatsApp. Type “JOIN” and send to 9910181818.
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)