Mountain Slayers-Kenya goes to many different destinations to slay and in these places the mountains, hills and valleys are as different and numerous as there are stars in the sky. Planning and preparation for a hike is generally the same, the differences become clear as advised by the expedition leader. For the purpose of this document, we will look at general hike preparation tips;
1. Planning and preparation
This of course becomes easier and almost seamless with time but the attention to detail that one needs to pay to this is very important as it can make or break your hike. Find out as much as possible about your destination; the terrain, the weather conditions, the duration of the hike.
The team that you will be hiking with (this is especially important if you are going to be together for an extended period of time), safety and security measures in place. All these are important in preparation and planning. Skipping any of these steps could determine or influence the outcome of a hike in the positive or negative.
2. Actual hike
- Dress – It is always important to pay attention to what you wear. Jeans, skirts, dresses are generally a bad idea- shorts are acceptable depending on the environment you will be in. Avoid cotton material as much as possible, it traps moisture and will make you cool off too fast.Synthetic fabrics work better. Dressing is dictated to a large extent by the environment you will be in. Long sleeves are advisable in virgin territory to avoid scratching your arms. Use sunscreen regardless of the weather.
- Pace – It is important to pace yourself and keep up at a rate that is comfortable to you, if the group rate is too fast, inform the team leader and they should be able to accommodate you.The hiking journey is about you and you need to enjoy it. Take time to take in your surrounding and appreciate the beauty, freshness and quietness around you. This is the one place you can comfortable unplug from all channels of communication.
- Hydration – Every 15-20 minutes take a sip of water to keep hydrated, you may not know it, but your body is losing water and essential salts. An isotonic drink is good as it helps replace lost electrolytes. Avoid caffeinated drinks as these will dehydrate you.
- Food – Every 45min-60min eat a fruit (bananas, grapes, oranges and apples) or energy giving snack to keep your body fueled. About mid-point of your journey, have a heavier snack (a sandwich or cheese and vegetable sticks) to which will slow burn and give your body energy for the remaining part of the journey
- Rest – Every hour or two (depending on the group dynamics) stop for a five minute break. Use the break to adjust your clothes (remove or increase) depending on the weather conditions. This is the perfect time to analyze your surroundings and look at where you have come from. Doing this will give you hope and confidence in your ability to finish the journey.
- Share – If at any point you need assistance or experience any discomfort, share with the team leader and allow them to make a professional suggestion that will assist you on the remainder of the hike.
3. After the hike
Most times people overlook this part yet it is as important as the hike itself. Here are a few things that one should do in order to protect yourself;
- Stretch – This is the first order of business and very important. This makes the difference between waddling like a duck the next day and being able to walk normally. I am normally quite poor at this and I do feel it the next day.
- Dry down – The clothes you have been trekking in are possibly drenched in sweat. It is a good idea to get them off your body and wear clean dry clothes. Especially in high altitudes, the possibility of hypothermia is high as the body cools down really fast and you may start to freeze.
- Keep warm – Wear a warm layer to prevent your body from losing any more heat. You have just been on a long arduous journey and your body is in recovery.
- Eat – Ensure you have a snack to eat after the hike. Your body has been burning calories and now needs nutrition in order to start the process of repair and recovery.
- Rest – Ensure you allow your body to rest and recover. Do not rush off to the next activity. Give yourself the time to recuperate. You have earned it.
These are just a few pointers, as you continue hiking you will customize them to suit your needs and also discover things that work for you that have been omitted. If you have any tips that you wish someone had told you when you begun hiking, please share them.