You have decided to make the transition from the day hike to the longer excursions. Sleeping under the stars, carrying everything you need on your back, is an opportunity to disconnect from the daily stress of city life.
While there is no one-size-fits-all pattern for planning every multi-day hike, there are some basic questions and issues that need to be addressed before heading out into the wilderness.
Go alone or in a group?
The question often arises among novice and / or intermediate hikers who venture into unfamiliar conditions. Whether you are walking alone or in a group, the answer to this question depends on three main factors:
Your level of experience
It would not be a good idea to go on the biggest hikes if you have never walked 5 kilometers in your life
The conditions and difficulty of the hike
It is important to know the conditions and the difficulty of the paths you will take during your hike. You have a ton of information on specialist hiking sites and hiking blogger stories.
Some people prefer to walk alone and be in direct contact with nature. Other people prefer to be accompanied and share emotions.
Walking alone in the wilderness can be extremely rewarding. However, problems can arise when hikers venture out on their own over terrain and conditions for which they are unprepared.
It is important to know what your level is and what your skills and experience are before embarking on a difficult and long hike.
Generally, you have an indication of the level of difficulty of a hike on the sites of the tourist offices where the hiking trails are located.
Be well prepared physically
Before embarking on a multi-day hike, it is best to be in good shape. Why ? The fitter you are, the less difficulties you have, both physically and mentally.
This is especially true during the first few days of the hike. By being in good shape, you can focus more on the beauty of your surroundings and less on the distraction of the exhaustion you feel.
In addition, a good level of physical conditioning before the hike reduces the likelihood of stress or repetition-related injuries, such as pain in the knees and ankles.
Do some research before you go
One of the keys to a safe and enjoyable experience is pre-hike research. Guides, maps, weather data, trip reports from other hikers, nature trips can be unpredictable, but by arming yourself with the necessary knowledge before you go, you improve your chances of successfully dealing with all that Mother Nature has to offer. may impose on you.
Once you’ve got all the information for your trip, it’s time to work out the details of the suggested route:
- Estimate walking times and distances
- Determine the possible camping areas
- Know the location of water sources.
- Identify important landmarks and / or reference points along your chosen route.
- Note potentially dangerous areas and possible evacuation routes in the event of a disaster scenario
Be well equipped
Research the terrain and conditions you are likely to encounter and pack your bags / gear accordingly. Keep it simple and useful, focus on the necessities, and cut out the superfluous.
Go over each item you plan to carry and ask yourself two questions:
- Do i need it?
- What will happen if I don’t have it?
Your own wilderness experiences will ultimately be your best ally when it comes to what you can and cannot do without.
Three tips for the equipment before the hike:
- Keep all your hiking gear in one place. This will prevent you from rushing at the last minute when it comes to searching.
- Before you go on a multi-day trip, test all the items you are going to pack. It is never ideal to find out that your filter is not working, just when you are about to “purify” the water in a pond.
- Take at least a few short hikes before embarking on a multi-day trek. Your feet need time to adjust. This is especially true if you are purchasing new hiking shoes, which may require several days of regular wear before they are fully comfortable.
Choosing the right food
Food will play an important role in your hiking plans. On short trips, our body’s natural reserves are such that we can eat just about anything and still be relatively well.
However, for longer hikes, nutritional needs (i.e. vitamins and minerals) come into play, which requires more thought and planning when it comes to our diet on the trails.
The ideal would be to find a balance between the following five elements: quantity, quality, taste, variety, simplicity.
Know the weather
Before leaving, always check the latest weather forecast. Whether it’s hot or raining, the hike won’t be the same.
If conditions deteriorate, you should be aware of your options:
- Shelters or emergency camps. There should always be a fallback solution.
- River crossings which can become impractical in case of heavy rains.
- Canyons which can present a flash flood hazard in heavy downpours.
Dealing with the unexpected
You might have got it all planned out on the second, but Mother Nature has her own ideas. When entering nature, be as well prepared as possible, while keeping an open mind and adaptable. Fixed schedules are rarely a good thing when it comes to hiking.