Trekking 101 for ladies
So, you have finally decided to do it…You might have seen your friends doing it and posting a gazillion photos, watch Bear Grylls doing his nature antics on television, or better still, see the amazing Ed Stafford trying out his superb skills ad hoc in some austere environments. Or you feel curious and would like to try a different type of holiday…instead of a beach holiday, you feel like merging with nature and walk for hours on end, sweating and panting up the next hill which will take you to your campsite, and where you will be able to light up your stove and cook your next meal. As someone who loved lazy holidays, preferably beach ones, where all I had to think of is what cocktail to have next or whether I should go for the grilled fish or green papaya salad for lunch, I have to admit that trekking was not on my ‘I would love to do’ list.
But then I discovered walking. I love to walk. And I could do it for hours! Walk the city, the park, the forests, along the beach. The Forest Gump of walking. And the satisfaction of getting somewhere, of reaching point X marked out on the map. Knowing that ‘You are here’ turned to ‘You are there’. The first time was daunting, I will admit that. My childhood while being fun, was an overprotected one; no cycling on the streets, no climbing on trees, NO CAMPING (ever!), no swimming where you need to tread water (in case I drowned), and every fall I had, meant another one of those horrible Tetanus shots. The riskiest thing I ever did was use magnifying lens to set fire to some dried up leaves and boy was that fun! I loved it. I also grew up to be quite fussy when it came to cleanliness; clean hair, obsessive about hygiene, and clean clothes etc. So, you can imagine that if you are setting off on a 7-day trek…some compromises need to be made. And because I know that I am not the only one like this, I thought of writing some simple tips for ladies who are about to set off on their first…or second or any number, trek. There will be ‘Trekking 101 (For guys)’ later on.
Ladies, those are the tips I found the most useful, and which actually made a difference to my trekking experience:
- PLAN AHEAD…
I know you’ve heard this one before. But really, do plan ahead. Get as much information as possible on your trail (maps, terrain information, weather information, peak season) so that you are informed of the area you will be trekking in, the likely temperatures and the number of days you are likely to spend in the wild. Once you have figured out how many days you think you will spend, start preparing for those days…
Prepare yourself mentally, physically, and morally. If it is going to be a long trail (maybe start with a short one if you are a beginner, you do want to enjoy it!) Mentally means be ready for all situations, if setting off on your own, be ready for some ‘I’m feeling lonely’ moments, especially if you’ve had a rough day, or if you are a huge fan of being connected to the world constantly. This is the ‘let’s disconnect’ adventure, but to be honest, you’ll have such a fantastic time, that you might want to stay in the disconnected world.
Physically, be ready. It’s a walk, you have to keep a certain pace. There will be uphill and downhill terrain, and you will be carrying quite a load in your backpack, particularly if going on a multi-day trek. For multi-day treks, you need to make sure that you are on track as there is the issue of meals and how many supplies you brought. Train, walk daily. Use the treadmill or if near a beach, walk on the beach regularly in your trekking boots as this will develop your leg muscles and get you used to walking briskly on irregular terrain.
Morally…if it’s raining today, just keep moving, tomorrow the sun will shine and if not tomorrow, then the day after…!
- GET ADVICE…
Read blogs, connect with friends who might have trekked before and who could have useful tips (good reason to meet up for a drink and catch up!), visit equipment stores such as Patagonia (B-Corp) as the store assistants have a lot of experience and are more often than not, happy to share their tips and answer questions to calm your concerns. We are Patagonia fans as they share the same values as us when it comes to sustainability so please see whether your next piece of equipment could be from there: http://www.patagonia.com.au/womens/performance-baselayer-underwear?SID=l36f69ap8ggc2c1qpipq6o5d66
- YOU CAN PACK YOUR LITTLE EXTRAS…
While I know that weight is always an issue and that backpacks should not be crammed of useless things (leave that face mask behind, you will have no time to use it. And the mirror might not be of much use either…unless if it’s a multi-use equipment which could also double up as a mirror…a VERY shiny saucepan?), us ladies do sometimes need some extra bits that we like to have with us.
If you are like me and need a little wash every day, especially after a long day walking, use Dr Bronner’s (B-Corp) baby soap which is biodegradable and which can be doubled up as a liquid detergent for clothes and for washing up your utensils. You could try it at home first: http://www.drbronner.com.au/collections/baby-mild-unscented/products/dr-bronners-liquid-castile-soap-baby-mild
Carry some extra olive oil/coconut oil which can be used for moisturising dry skin and for cooking, and it also conditions your hair and prevents your scalp from getting horribly itchy after a few days of not washing (I do wash my hair as it is rather fine and dries quickly). Want to try? http://www.drbronner.com.au/collections/coconut-oil/products/dr-bronners-coconut-oil-white
If there is a water source nearby, carry some water in a folding bucket, which can also be used to soak tired feet (sea salt can be used for the soak and used for cooking too!), and to wash up dishes, or to wash clothes. But please always remember to dispose of the used water, responsibly. Need one? Here’s a link: http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/kitchen/folding-bucket/
For your face, use a Konjac sponge (it is a sponge, and is therefore wonderfully light), you will not need soap with it, and it cleanses your face wonderfully. I have sensitive skin and finds that it just keeps my face from suffering unnecessarily. Interested? Here’s a link: https://www.konjacspongecompany.com/
If you happen to be having your period, then I find that the most comfortable tampons or pads are the ones made of cotton. Always remember to bring plastic bags as you will have to carry your used pads with you (sorry). For those of you who can use Menstrual cups (please try using one, it is superb), then I find that it is the best solution to periods on a trek as you will not have to carry your used tampons/pads, which will add weight to your backpack. Just remember to take a handkerchief to wipe the cup clean with some water, or just let it air dry before reinserting. Then have a wash in the evening. Interested? Lunapad (B-Corp) can help you find out more about those cups: http://lunapads.com/
If you need any more help or advice about any particular aspects of a trek you’ll be undertaking, go on, just Contact Us and ask! The team will be more than happy to help. Good luck and happy trekking!