Categories: Hiking

How to Prepare your First Mountain Hike

So that your first outing in the mountain does not end up in a misadventure, here are some elementary advice.

There is always a first time! Remember your first organized day trip in the mountain, the route that you had remembered, and the equipment that you had with you. The photographs of this hike may have been tarnished since, but the memories are undoubtedly still intact.

And if it were to be done again, chances are that you would do it a little differently. So that your first mountain hike does not end up in a disaster, here are some elementary recommendations.

The choice of a day trip

Better leave a bit hungry for more rather than to have been too ambitious! The objective is to indulge and to want to do it again. Thus do not start with a one-week itinerant excursion. In the mountain, walking hours are calculated into positive height difference per hour.

One counts 300 m/hour for an average hiker (who already has walking experience in the mountain). When the terrain is not too rough, this height difference can be calculated with a mean velocity of 4 km/h. Do not encumber yourself with a topographic map at a 1:25000 scale if you cannot read it.

Unless you’ve been explained the color codes and the reading of the relief by an expert, the simplest way for a first hike in the mountain is to visit a tourist office. There you will often find different topographic maps for various routes, clarifying at the same time the level of difficulty, the walking times, and the points of interest of the hike.

You will just have to ensure that the conditions (in particular snowing conditions) are right to carry on this trip then just follow your map and the markings on the trail.

The backpack for your hiking

In hiking, the backpack is essential. It will be your best fellow traveler provided that it is not too heavy. Two errors are to be avoided the first time that you prepare a backpack:

  • To add last-minute small things, which are not really useful by thinking that will feel hardly feel the weight. It is the accumulation of all the small useless things, even light, which ends up weighing heavy!
  • To weigh up your backpack at arm’s length for one moment in your kitchen by thinking that it is not so heavy. You will not have at all the same feeling at the end of 2 hours of walk.

Then one immediately forgets the checkered tablecloth for the noon picnic! In short, it is necessary to think of:

  • Clothing: in the mountain, it is necessary to be able to face changes in weather and temperature, sometimes important.
  • Protection: what protects from the rain and the sun (jacket, glasses, hat, and sun lotion).
  • Safety: cellphone became an important instrument in the event of difficulty. Be aware nevertheless that you may not have a signal everywhere in the mountain. You can always carry with you a basic first-aid kit. It will more be a question of facing a small scratch than a big rescue.
  • Feeding: in the mountain, the body dehydrates itself much more quickly than in the valley; without even counting the furnished effort. Thus do not forget to carry water. The ideal is the water pocket that makes it possible to drink regularly without having to lay down your backpack. But a flexible plastic bottle will work as well. Foresee some snacks (without planning for a regiment) and a picnic if you leave for a day trip. Take care to remove all useless packing and avoid all packaging out of glass.
  • Progress material: your map or your topographic chart. A walking stick can also give you balance and be a relief in little stiff descents.

Clothing and hiking shoes

Do not judge a book by its cover… but that can help nevertheless! For your comfort:

  • A moisture-wicking Tee-shirt (also called rapid dry) is preferable to the cotton Tee-shirt (which tends to retain perspiration with the first effort). For the same reasons, polar fleece is preferable to a wool sweater.
  • Light and flexible pants are preferable to jeans, which will limit your movements.
  • A bonnet and a pair of gloves are always useful if you go up in altitude. Be aware that on average you lose 0,55°C at the first 100 m of height difference. Contrasts in temperature are important in altitude and there is nothing more unpleasant than to have a feeling of cold as soon as you have some stop for a break.

Of course, it is also necessary to envisage a jacket that will protect you at the same time from the wind and the rain.

The shoes, they are the tires of the hiker. It is necessary that they are adapted to the terrain. The ideal is a pair of mid or high-cut hiking shoes with a Vibram sole.

Attention, for non-alpine foot, “trainers” shoes do not especially have good ankle support in stony ground. They will eventually do if you walk on a forest track and will be always better than “urban tennis shoes” with the very fine sole.

Before leaving for a hike

Inform yourself about the last weather bulletin, not the one from last night’s TV news forecast but rather the mountain bulletin from the weather service. That will enable you to adapt the equipment, which you will slip into your backpack. If there is truth in the saying “which listens to the weather too much never takes its backpack”, it is better nevertheless to get informed in order not to get caught in really bad weather.

It is also always advisable to warn somebody of the itinerary you will be taking for your stroll.

Last advice: adapt your pace. Do not start too quickly, made regular pauses, and take the time to fill with wonder in front of the beauty of nature that surrounds you!

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Published by
Lara Sein

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