When trekking, it doesn’t matter how stunning the scenery or wonderful the weather is, if you aren’t physically prepared for your trek you probably won’t enjoy it as much. Though treks vary greatly, here are some staple guidelines for any multi-day hike. We’ll leave the specifics of conditioning up to you.
1. Cut your Toenails!
One of those easy things to forget that will haunt you all trip. The slightest unkempt little piggy can become a huge annoyance 3 days into hiking. On the other hand, be careful not to go too short!
2. Gear Up
Finding quality gear means enjoying the hike much more. When I first moved out to Montana I was the queen of cotton layers. After sweating to death and then freezing to death I finally schlepped out for some decent sportswear – much nicer.
3. Train in the Gear You Plan to Wear on Your Trek
Maybe not 6 months beforehand, but definitely a few months prior. Especially those hiking boots. Break those in ahead of time. Working your gear in allows you to address any issues that come up ahead of time.
4. Know What is Expected of You and Plan That Into Your Training
– How much weight are you expected to carry? Lead up to that much as you train – using the backpack you intend to use.
– How long will you be trekking each day? It’s a good idea if you will be trekking 6-7 hours a day to plan consecutive days of longer walks/workouts/etc. Walking for an hour a day is something, but it hardly compares to full day of strenuous hiking.
– What are weather conditions expected to be like? Weather in the mountains is anything but predictable. Prepare for the unexpected. It is miserable to be cold and/or wet because you heard “it was the dry season”.
– How much elevation gain? If you live in a non-mountainous area find a way to simulate uphill hiking… whether it be high-rise stair climbing, the local sledding hill, or your gym’s StairMaster.
5. Include Training in Your Daily Routine
Besides setting aside your “work out” time, incorporate activities into everyday life. Decide to walk to work. If that’s not an option, bike to work, park a ways away when driving, get off a stop early for buses or trains, walk during your breaks, stop watching t.v. (that’s my own thing – always feel like you do a lot more when the t.v. doesn’t suck you in). The more active you become, naturally, the more natural hiking hours a day will feel.
6. Cross Train
It breaks up the monotony of your work outs, balances, and prevents injury from overuse. Go on a bike ride, play a game of tennis, take a yoga class, swim. You still get a workout, you develop other muscles and “rest” those crucial muscles.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing and overworking yourself could lead to an early burn out, injury, or pain on the trail. In even the most intense training programs, one day of rest is critical to it’s success and longevity.
8. Fueling Up
From on trail pick me ups to meals the week before, a healthy diet makes a difference. And learning how to properly re-fuel while exercising takes some time to get right. For instance, waiting until you are thirsty means your already dehydrated and chugging a bunch of water – while totally satisfying – will leave you bloated and perhaps a bit woozy.
9. Allow Plenty of Time to Acclimatize
Many treks involve traveling to high altitude places. At the very least, allow a full day, preferably 2-4 days, with no plans. Rest, restrain from physical activity, drink water (at least 1 liter per day), don’t drink alcohol, and eat small portions of food – mostly carbohydrates.
10. Take ‘Er Easy
First day out, no doubt you’re excited. That doesn’t mean you need to race your porter up the mountain. Pace yourself!
Want to know more about Trekking in South America? See all of Detour’s diverse trip options here: https://detourdestinations.com/travel
Also, check out our Inca Trail Trekking guide here: https://detourdestinations.com/inca-trail-trek-guide/
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