It’s not as difficult or complicated as a first-timer might imagine. In fact, trekking is an easy activity that the whole family can enjoy.
It is, after all, a walk in the hills. And there are many kinds of walks: easy, enjoyable walks; demanding hikes; nature walks to observe flora or fauna; walks to reach a peak or fort; walks for a photo opportunity, a fishing trip, or camping experience. Everyone can choose a walk that suits them best. Your reason for going determines your destination, and how you prepare yourself to reach it.
1. Invest in a good pair of shoes
Your feet are your most crucial body part on a trek, and it doesn’t take much to keep them in toe-tappingly tip-top shape. First, invest in a pair of good-quality, water-resistant hiking boots; you want plenty of support and ventilation too. Then, wear them in. How do you do this? Wear ‘em everywhere. On your training runs, on walks to the shops, to work, to formal events (well, maybe not).
You get the idea though; by wearing them in as much as possible in the weeks and months leading up to the trek, it’ll help avoid blisters, bunions and lost toenails. Then, stock up on a few pairs of really good hiking socks (preferably a wool/nylon blend), that will wick moisture and keep your feet dry. If you want to get a bit crazy, wear two pairs while walking to minimise your chance of blisters.
2. Train with a backpack
On almost all of our trekking trips, you won’t be carrying your main pack, but you will need to carry a small daypack, packed with essentials like your camera, snacks, sunscreen, water and wet-weather gear. So with all your days/weeks/months of training, make sure you’re challenging yourself with a weighted bag. If you really want to push it, pack your bag with a few extras, so it’s a little heavier than what you’re planning to hike with on the trip – it’ll make the eventual trek feel like a walk in the park (chortle).
3. Try using walking poles
walking poles will become your two new best friends. They take the pressure off your knees on the downs, and give you extra support on the ups. Incorporate poles into your training sessions so you get used to walking with them.
4. Walk in all types of weather
It’s also unlikely you’ll get ten straight days of perfect weather on your trek, so prepare yourself for all conditions by walking in cold, windy, rainy, warm and humid conditions (where possible, of course!).
5. Make sure you’re walking properly
You’ve been doing it since you were around one year old, but it’s super important to monitor how you’re walking and if you’re doing it correctly. Make sure you’re hitting the ground with your heel first, then rolling onto your toe, which propels you onto the next step (this will help reduce the risk of shin splints and tendon pulls – ouch). Walk with your head up, eyes forward and shoulders level.
6. Start walking now (it’s never too early to start training)
This may seem like the most obvious step to start with (pardon the pun), but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do it. The best way to prepare for a really long walk? Do some really long walks. You should start with small-ish distances and work up to the length you’ll be trekking on your trip.
When you start your training, leave a day in between each walk to let your body recover. But as your body gets fitter, try to do back-to-back sessions each day – it’ll help build your stamina for the relentless nature of a ten-day trek, where you won’t have the luxury of rest days. Ideally, you want to be able to walk 4-6 hours – comfortably – before you leave.