Checklist for First Timer/Amateur Trekkers
As soon as the rains arrive in Maharashtra, people take off immediately to the nearby Mountains to enjoy the rains and witness the beauty of sahyadri in it's prime. Every year thousands of people are entering into the world of Trekking. These first timers and amateur trekkers have very little idea about what Trekking is. Almost all of them are lured into Trekking by Photos/Videos on social media.
Such sudden and unprepared entry into the world of Trekking could not just ruin your experience but also put your life at risk at times.
So first of all let me explain to you what Trekking is (or rather I should say What Trekking is not), Trekking isn't just any adventurous activity or a one/two day picnic destination, it has some pre-requisites. I know not everyone is going to make it to the end of this write up so I have made a basic Check list in First half and explained it in detail in second half.
If you want to know the reason behind each item of the checklist you can read in detail in latter part of the write up.
Following is the basic Check list for One/Two Day Treks in Sahyadri Region
1. Are you fit enough for that Particular Trek ? (Check the difficulty Level - Try an easy level trek for start)
2. Gather information about your trek organiser (Check their website, experience of trek leaders, Batch size, Avoid going to Trek with Batch size more than 30, Leaders to Participants Ratio, Safety precautions etc) (Avoid going alone or without any guide when you are amateur in Trekking)
3. Gather information about trek place (What is the ideal season to visit the place, if it's risky in a particular season then avoid, How much time does it take to climb, does it include any technical climbing, availability of food at trek place, availability of mobile network, base village name and nearby city etc.)
4. Are you properly equipped for trek ? (Trek Shoes are not just a requirement, it is mandatory, Action Trekking Shoes are ideal for treks in Sahyadri which costs less than Rs 1000, Running/Gym/Sports and any other shoes with soft sole are not just useless but also put your life at risk on many levels, wear quick dry clothes in monsoon, totally avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless clothes and cover your body as much as you can to protect from insects bites, backpacks over sling bags, rain cover for bag could save your valuable items and also keep your spare clothes and other stuff dry)
5. Basic Things to Carry (At least 2 Litre of Water, energy bars, electrol powder, snacks and food items depending on availability of food at trek place, torch (Mobile torch light not recommended), odomos, extra clothes, floaters or Sandals, medicine as necessary to you, windcheater, avoid wearing expensive ornaments)
6. Get detailed itinerary/schedule for the trek from your trek organiser, ask them query if you have any.
7. Strictly avoid consumption of Alcohol and avoid smoking too. (If you can not stay away from them for one or two days then you already need some help)
8. Stick together with the Group. If you are going on a Trek with a Trek Group or Group of Friends, always stay together with the group, do not try risky alternative/shortcut routes just for the sake of adventure.
9. Listen to the instructions of Trek leader carefully and follow them.
10. Avoid littering (Carry all your waste and garbage back to the place where proper dumping facilities are available)
11. Capturing your trek experience is not the most important thing. (Avoid taking pictures and selfies at places where it's risky)
12. Inform your Parents and Loved ones about the Trek Place you are going and also give them contact details of your Trek Organiser, so that they can contact you in case of emergency.
13. Don't hesitate to ask for help during the trek from your trek leaders or fellow Participants and also help others in case anyone need.
14. Don't play loud music, mountains and forests are home to many other animals, we are just visitors, don't disturb them.
15. Inform your trek leader about your medical history and also give them emergency contact details in advance.
16. Don't expect luxury on treks.
17. Protect your valuables. (Especially Mobile Phones)
These are some of the basic things which one need to keep in mind, we are getting news of people getting stuck, getting rescued, getting injured and also some deaths on Treks, and many of them are happening not because of the inherent risk of Trekking but because of Ignorance and Carelessness of our own.
Trekking can be most enriching experience of your life and it will not just take you up and close with nature but will also teach you a thing or two about yourself and life if you do it right way.
Please step into this world when you are ready and not when you just want to.
Thank you for reading. If you find it useful please share it among your friends who are new to the world of Trekking.
If as a First Timer or as an Amateur Trekker you have any suggestions then please let me know, together we can make this checklist even better.
PS : You can find Basic First aid kit list in the end.
For detailed importance of each aspect of the above points read further.
1. Fitness : Just because you are young and have normal body weight doesn't make you fit, your body is acclimatised with your routine activities, if you suddenly throw yourself on some Mountain, it will react accordingly. So before you go on a trek make sure you are fit enough for it, even easy level treks require good amount of fitness. Participants sometimes complaint their leaders that they have been misguided by them about the level of trek, where they feel the trek is very difficult even though it was very easy one, so before you go for any trek make yourself fit, running is the best form of activity to improve your fitness and basic stretching always helps. If you are fit enough for a particular trek, it won't just make things easy for you but you will be able to enjoy the trek so much better
2. Gathering information about the Trek Organiser is necessary, because not all trek organisers have same philosophy, some may suit you and some may not, some keep small batch size, some big, some charge less and some more, some arrange luxurious facilities, some basic, everyone in good in their own way you just need to choose which suits your requirements. If by any chance you are going privately by your then prefer hiring a local guide and carry first aid kit of your own (Basic First Aid Kit List in the end)
3. As I said earlier, people just go for a trek because they saw a nice picture on social media, they don't check whether it is appropriate to visit that place in a particular season, for instance Devkund Trek can be a very risky one in Prime monsoon, and as people rush to these risky places and give an open invitation to troubles and these accidents force forest departments and other authority to ban some places. I m not saying the ban is not necessary but if this trend continues most of our beautiful forts and treks will be banned and will be out of our reach forever.
4. Being properly equipped is so important on treks. Treks shoes not just ensure proper grip but also ankle length shoes help you safeguard against any accidental injury on ankle and also provides some protection against twisted leg. Plus wearing shoes means your feets are totally covered and it will safeguard you from insects bites. Wearing Sports shoes or any soft sole shoes doesn't make any sense because they are not made for Trekking, those expensive shoes will wear off in one or two treks and the flat sole will make you slip on almost all trails and keep your life at risk. And besides that it will make your trek experience miserably tiring and painful. Apart from shoes, you need proper backpack and not just a sling bag, which can make you off balance, also pack your bag to protect it from rain so that your valuable items don't get ruined. Wearing quick dry clothes will help you a lot too.
5. Carry all the items mentioned in the list, you may or may not use some of the items from the list however as you trek regularly, you will realize why it is important.
6. Read the itinerary carefully so that you have a rough idea how long is the trek, at what time your will be reaching at what place and hence inform your parents or loved ones about your whereabouts. Ask the organizer if your have any query.
7. Smoking and consumption of Alcohol will not only make your trek difficult but will also make others around you uncomfortable. Smoking will make you breathe hard and hence will make your body get tired faster, alcohol not just dehydrates your body but also drains your energy.
8. Group treks are called Group treks for a reason, you have to stick together with the group all the time, Trek leader already has to keep an eye on so many people, make sure you stick together with the group and make trek leaders task a bit easier. Besides that in every group some participants will be quicker and some will be slow, everyone has to match each others pace, faster ones has to slow down themselves and try to help them in need and the slower ones has to avoid any unnecessary breaks and make an effort to keep up the pace to avoid delays for the entire group and also inform the trek leaders if they are facing any problem during the trek.
9. Trek leader has surely spent more time in Mountains than you and he knows the trail and conditions better than anyone, listen to his instructions and follow them. Some basic and easy techniques for climbing and descending can make your trek experience better and will save you from some pain too.
10. Littering is irresponsible not just in city but in Mountains too, at least in city there will be someone to pick it up but in Mountains it stays there for long time and some wild animals end up eating plastics and also it ruins the experience of others. Make sure you carry your waste back.
11. Clicking pictures is fine, but make sure that doesn't cost you your life, people go over the line just to get that crazy picture they saw on social media, please avoid that. Apart from that excessive time spent on treks by Participants causes unnecessary delays and disrupts the schedule of trek. So make sure you click some pictures and enjoy the surroundings too. Clicking pictures should not be your only motto.
12. Inform your loved ones about where you are going, if possible also share the itinerary and contact details of trek leaders with them and as soon as you get the network inform them that you are safely back, trek involves inherent risks and it's obvious that it will make your parents and loved ones anxious, so be a little responsible and keep them informed.
13. Trekking is not an easy activity by any means, it tests your physical and mental limits and no one can finish the trek without the help of one another, make sure you don't hesitate in asking for help if needed and also if you see someone struggling, provide them a helping hand.
14. You can listen to the music in the city anytime you want but the sounds of bird, sound of rain, sound of the trees waving from the winds, that you only get to hear in Mountains, apart from that many people come to the Mountains in search of peace, and be away from chaos of city, playing loud music will ruin their experience. And the most important, Mountains are home to many animals, making loud noises disturbs them too.
15. Without fail inform your trek leader about your recent medical history, they will guide you if it's appropriate to do that trek or not considering your case. And the emergency contact details will surely come in handy in case.
16. Trekking is an adventurous activity which involves wandering into wilderness and survive with limited resources. At times you can't even expect basic things like Toilet facility, changing facility and luxurious food. Trek Organizer try to arrange the best possible services they can. One need to understand that for treks you have to get up early, have packed food instead of freshly made food, sleep on uncomfortable and not so cozy places. Before you complaint about this facilities, just look around where you are and if asking for those facilities is legitimate.
17. Every week in monsoon we hear some or the other participant damaging their mobile phones, especially in monsoon participants use their phones to click photos and by the end of the day find their phone not working. Pack it safely. Even after wearing windcheater and keeping a rain cover water goes inside you bag and hence damages phones if they are kept unprotected. Apart from that don't wear jewelry or other valuable ornaments, you get in a waterfall or something and find it missing after a while. So better avoid wearing, if you still wear them at least keep it in your bag safely at least during the trek.
Thank you once again, let's be responsible Trekkers and let's trek the right way.
Basic First Aid Kit List :
2. Omni Gel
8. Tablets for Vomit, Fever, Cold, Body Pain and Pain Killer
9. Electrol Powder
Written By : Kartik Mehta
(Co-Founder Mumbai Trekkers)