Okay, so there are a plethora of blogs telling you how to travel and follow your wanderlust. I, in the meantime will relate my experiences on my first trekking trip making it the perfect example of how not to trek? But before starting, I would like to make it very clear that this article is not meant to discourage people from travelling, instead this should serve as a lesson to others.
So, the first ideas of a trek during the monsoons of India were sown thanks to the promise of the lush green mountainside. Mcleod Ganj sounds as a perfect place to relax back from the fast paced life of the cities so the Triund trek from the nearby Dharamkot sounded as the perfect option. So, after spending the night at a small guest house in Dharamkot, we descended up the Dhauladhar range to a height of 3000 metres.
Not studying up about your trek
The first mistake I made was leaving all the preparation onto my friends and trusting them blindly about the information on the trek. The trek to Triund is an Easy to Moderate level trek which is very strenuous for novices. The trek was deemed to be 3 hours in total but in actuality it took a lot of people nearly 6-7 hours to climb to the top with the last part being particularly difficult. So, any time you plan for a trek, read extensively about it.
Not wearing proper shoes
This is probably one of the most notorious of the problems faced by most trekkers. I took along my Reebok sports shoes on the advice of my friend and they lasted all of 2 kilometres. The soles ripped away in the torrential rains and half of my trek was consumed in strapping up the shoes with laces, twine and plastic. On the way down, my other shoe also snapped giving me on of the most notorious experiences of my life. For novices, Buy a pair of good trekking shoes with a good grip and break them in over a period of two weeks so that you are prim and perfect for it.
Not taking proper equipment
You can buy most of the gear near the base camps of most of the treks. A pair of or even a single walking stick will provide your legs much needed rest on the way up. Do have a cap to keep out the sun and absorb the sweat off your brow. Sunscreen and shades are also on the checklist.
Not wearing proper clothes
I wore a Nylon t-shirt and Cargos on the way to the top and the weight of the wet cargoes made me regret it immediately. Instead, carrying Nylon based T-shirts and shorts on the way to the top sound like a better idea.
Eating Less or More
Try taking some chocolates and juices along the route to replenish your stores of sugar to expend energy. The trek to the top is dotted with a number of small dhabas selling Maggi and an assortment of things. Do eat a bit on the way up but don’t overeat and feel sleepy. Although my friends suggested against drinking any water for the trip up, but I drank nearly two bottles to alleviate the pain in my ribs.
Not taking it slow
The motto to the top is slow and steady. If you are a first time trekker or even a beginner, do try to take small steps and rest on your way up. There is nothing like reaching totally exhausted to the top. Do try to get in some physical exercise the week before the trek to be physically fit for it. I realised my smoke filled lungs started labouring by the time we reached the Galu Mandir. It was a pain in the chest and stomach as the lungs strained hard to get the oxygen reaching to my legs.
Not carrying medication and toilet essentials
The walk to the top is painful. Some Combiflam always helps alleviate the pain and makes you ready for the trek back down. Take Pan D along with it to counter the effects of acidity. A strip of Satrogyl O for the runny stomach if your stomach does not adjust to the food served on top. A Volini Spray for some hits and bruises. A crepe bandage so that a twisted ankle doesn’t become painful.
Never leaving a man behind
One of the most essential rules of trekking or any form of mountaineering is never leaving a man behind alone. My friends, seeing me slow down raced ahead for some very odd explanation of rest creating more tiredness. It also happened on the way down with them leaving me the first time my second shoe exploded. In the conditions I hated the most on the mountains with torrential rains pouring down on me, I was left alone to trek up the mountain. With glasses fogging up repeatedly and adjusting the plastic keeping my shoes together, there was a moment when tears nearly escaped. But sitting down and understanding that this fight is with your own self and your own body, I did somehow complete the trek with pain racking through my ribs and pelvis. A special thanks to my guide Narayan for sticking with this lone stupid novice trekker and helping him reach his destination both times.
These are some of the mistakes you should never do during your first trek. Do let us know about your experiences of your first trek.
See: Trekking in Nainital
Do read this article by Shubham Mansingka: Why Triund is the perfect first Himalayan trip? for the counter view.