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Walk On The Wild Side



Walk On The Wild Side

A handy guide for first time trekkers in the Indian Himalayas

With the Himalayas in its backyard, India is blessed with plenty of beautiful trails to trek and hike on. Many of us are excited to go on a trek but don’t know what to expect, what to do and what not to do. Trekking in the Himalayas is strenuous but with these tips, you can ensure happy trails in the deepest woods.

1. When’s the Best Time?

Trekking season in the Himalayas begins from March (spring) and lasts until October (autumn).

Weather is unpredictable, but seasonal treks promise good trekking conditions and fine views when the skies clear. Off-season treks (during winter) are for experienced trekkers.

2. Start from Below

In the wild, your trekking boots are your best companion.

Invest in a pair of waterproof, high-ankle support boots from renowned brands such as Salomon, Quechua, Merrell and Columbia.

For warm, mostly dry terrain use hiking shoes.

For colder trails, involving occasional snow and water crossings, trekking boots are recommended.

Wear your new boots for at least 2 weeks before a trek. Never break in new shoes on an actual trek. Also bring at least 3 pairs of thick, synthetic wool socks.

3. A Home on Your Back

Camping gear should be chosen based on the season and weather you’re likely to encounter.

In general, a down jacket, 3-season tent and a sleeping bag rated around -1 degree celsius are adequate for most treks from spring to late-autumn.

A quality backpack with lumbar support and trekking pants (not shorts) are a must for a comfortable trek.

A rain coat and backpack cover will help keep your belongings dry if you’re caught in a spell of rain, which sometimes continue for days.

4. Solo or with a Group?

Going with a group makes a trek more affordable, plus you’ll have friends in remote places.

Trekking with a reliable guide/company shifts the burden of extensive planning and leaves you free to enjoy your time in the wild.

Local guides and porters often offer interesting trivia about trails and villages en route.

5. Building Strength

Whether Easy or Advanced, all treks are tiring.

“Walk regularly for 4-5 kms with a loaded backpack, several weeks before your trek,” says Brighu Acharya, founder of Himalayan Brothers Adventure.

Building strength in your calf muscles without losing breath is a great asset for trekking. “Trekkers should be able to carry both – their gear and body weight. Most serious treks are multi-day, where stamina matters more than speed,” he adds.

6. On the Trail

On group treks, everyone works as a team. “Patience is a trekker’s best strength. Everybody has their own speed, it’s not a competition to the top,” says Brighu.

Good trekkers encourage their partners and are never shy to rest when their body tells them to.

7. Trekking with Sensitivity

Keep trails and campsites free of sound and plastic pollution. Carry and dispose your trail garbage at home and encourage your fellow-trekkers to do the same.

Toilets at campsites should be dug at least 200m away from water sources such as streams and lakes.

Following simple hygiene rules ensures that the Himalayas continue to charm future trekkers.

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Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.

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