Preparing for hiking and trekking is vital for both first-timers and seasoned mountain goers alike. In the event of something goes awry, it can make all the difference in the world. At Spiky Tours we have come up with a few finger tips our hiking visitors should consider dated from our personal experience and mountaineering knowledge.
Tailor your workout to match the terrain you plan to tackle. Don’t be intimidated by exercise machines that look like they appeard in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. For fitness results that translate to the trail is recommended walking on an inclined treadmill since it resembles hiking dynamics motion and mimics the stress put on your joints.
But, even on treadmills and steppers, you can’t perfectly simulate hiking because the surface is stable and most don’t allow downhill walking. Train for uneven surfaces, like rocky ledges, mud, bogs and vegetation. Do squats and planks to beef up legs, core and balance. Start training at least 2 months before the trip, and do three to four one hour (or longer) sessions a week. For whole body conditioning, carry a weighted pack that matches your typical load on training trails. Make sure your feet are well protected by the right footwear before embarking on any outdoor excercise.
In the back of your mind, always remember that you can never be an expert than the mountain itself. Conquer yourself not the mountain.
High altitude for humans is considered any elevation above 8,000ft/2,400m above sea level. Higher elevation carries a slew of unusual risks, such as altitude sickness, more extreme weather conditions and boulder fields, so you will want to acclimate and train for high altitude hiking and carry the right gear.
As you go up in altitude, the pressure and density of the air decreases. The spread-out gas particles mean you are taking in less oxygen with each breath – which is why the air is sometimes referred to as ‘thin air’ – and your body has to work harder to make up for this change. Experts say it takes up to four days to initially acclimate to high elevations, and up to four weeks to fully acclimate. If you hike above 8,000ft without acclimating first, you are at risk of experiencing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness varies from person to person. It can be moderate to severe, and symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headache and shortness of breath.
Before and during your hike, try out the below few things and will make your high altitude experience more successful.
(I) Cardiovascular training – Increasing your cardiovascular training at least a few weeks before you go for a hike. Even if you hike regularly, doing so at higher altitudes will put more strain on your body so the fitter you are to begin with, the better. Increase the duration of your aerobic activity and make sure you are doing it on an incline, whether you are walking, biking or running up a hill or on the treadmill.
(II) Start Drinking more water – Dry mountain air combined with breathing more heavily can easily lead to dehydration at high altitude. You will want to drink more water once you arrive, but unfortunately that can be easier said than done. Start gradually increasing your daily water intake for a few weeks before your trip so that your body has time to get used to the increased volume.
(II) Practice deep breathing – Deep breaths are more efficient than shallow breaths, allowing your body time to properly exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, slowing your heartbeat and stabilizing your blood pressure, helpful at high altitude. It can also help calm you down on the hill if you start to feel panicked, which can be a side effect of shortness of breath. Practising deep breathing can be done by itself or in a yoga setting and involves strengthening your respiration muscles like the intercostal muscles and diaphragm to allow for more expansion of your lungs. You can practise deep breathing by lying down on your back and taking long, slow breaths through your nose. Imagine that you are breathing all the way down into your abdomen, back and sides and make sure you are breathing all the way out.
(III) The pace – Pace yourself comfortable with your breathing(though our guides will kindly help setting the rythym), be willing to take breaks, carry a hydration pack to encourage frequent sipping of water and bring snacks for fuel.
Finding a pace and rhythm where you are not using too much energy and walking efficiently takes a bit of practice, but we definitely consider it a vital skill for hiking. Even if you have a lot of distance to cover and are concerned about time, if you start out too fast, you will tire yourself out quickly and then you will have a new set of problems.
Find an easy walking pace where you will be breathing more heavily than when you are resting, but you feel you can keep going for a long time. You shouldn not have to take breaks every 10 minutes, but you should take breaks occasionally to fuel up, perhaps once an hour or so for about 5 minutes. Slow down on the uphills but lean into the hill, and use plateaus and downhills to catch your breath, rather than stopping completely. We commonly refer the pace as “pole pole” simply meaning slow but sure in Swahili language.f
An active person loses 2 litres per hour in very hot weather and about half litre in temperature condition. You need to hydrate everyday enough drinking 2.5-3 litres of water. We recommend whilst at home and on your training sessions few weeks before the main hike, familialize your body drinking about 3 litres of water a day. Bear in mind that dehydration will be one trigger to Altitude Mountain Sickness. Drink enough that your pee is nearly clear.
The water from alongside rivers can be used but you need to purify it either with purifying tabs, boiling or filters.
Hiking gears are the most important aspect for a successful hike. Committing crimes of fashion will expose your body to cold, sun, rain and a miserable hiking experience. Wearing cotton, once dump it stays dump, sucking away body heat. Opt for adjustable layers of wicking fabrics like wool and polyester.
Starting with too many layers, ten minutes into the hike you will be overheating and need to shed some layers. Start from the trailhead a little chilled. Letting yourself sweat siphons away your warmth. Check out our hiking gear essentials checklist page.
1st Layer – the clothes that goes immediately next to your skin like; long sleeve under thermals top and bottom.
2nd Layer – To provide some insulation, retaining your body heat in cooler conditions like; fleece and down jackets.
3rd Layer – Full waterproof jacket and pants defending you from the wind and rain. Hat and mitts for quick adjustments.
Make sure your boots are as comfortable and stable as possible, waterproof, insulated, good ankle support and a bit bigger in size creating room that you can wiggle your toes while wearing summit socks. Feet swell by at least half size by afternoon after a long hike.
Walk in your boots at home climbing up and down that hill close to your house especially with about 2 pairs of socks to ensure that they perfectly suites you. Do not hike in wet socks as soggy skin blisters faster; change into dry asap.
Trekking poles will help you to alleviate the strain and force of gravity on your legs. They offer traction, good stability and additional support on uneven and slippery surfaces. In most cases, walking poles are multipurpose, since they may be utilized as animal defense and medical sprints in an emergency situation.
Setting poles, your elbows should bend 90 degrees (lengthen for descents so you can lean on them).
Downsize your aid kit by replacing supplies you can improvise (like triangular bandages) with essentials like more adhesive bandages, duct tape, ibuprofen, sterile gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, antihistamines, antidiarrheal medication, tweezers, safety pins, swiss knife, hand sanitizer and sugar.
With many people on the hiking trails than ever these days, it is crucial that you don’t be that annoying trail user who is blasting music or tossing your banana peels into the bushes. Brush up on your hiking etiquette before you hit the trail to help protect yourself, other trail users, local wildlife and the environment. Remember to take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints