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How To Prepare For A 7 Day Hiking Trip
Getting Into Shape
A hiking trip of anything from 3 to 7 days in length requires preparing yourself physically for the challenges ahead. Mentally you need to be in the right place too, reading up on mental preparation for hiking is a good idea.
You need to start preparing your body at least 3 to 6 months in advance - long distance hiking can be strenuous. The body areas that need working on are: calves, thighs, arms, shoulders, back, core, lungs and heart. You are going to be carrying a heavy load so your upper body does need to be in shape too.
It is an added advantage if you are already doing some form of exercise but you need to start walking for 30 minutes a few times a week, increasing the distance every week until you are walking an hour or more at least 4 times a week. After 2 weeks carry a backpack with some items in it to provide some weight. As you progress add weight to it.
Try to walk in areas where there is uphill as well as downhill terrain - on a hike there are often hilly areas to contend with. Find a park to walk in if possible or do some day hikes if you can. See http://daveonline.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Prepare-For-A-Day-Hike for information on Day Hikes.
Other forms of exercise that will prepare you are: cycling, running, stretching, aerobics and a gym circuit or weights. If you are not doing any of these, some upper body exercises will help immensely. Doing just one of these in addition to practising walking will be of great help. While preparing physically you can start gathering equipment and making notes on food to take with.
Planning a Hike
If you have not done a lot of hiking before it would be a good idea to join a hiking group or club that you can start with.
Experienced hikers that belong to a club know the different hikes one can do, as well as the amenities available, distances and the terrain. It's not a good idea to do any lengthy hikes alone, if you fall and hurt yourself it may be difficult to get help. If the weather turns really bad and you can't hike any further this could be a problem too. Rather hike with a group, your'e there to support each other.
Get together, decide where your'e going to walk, look at maps of the area and discuss all aspects of the venture. Are there overnight huts and washing facilities for instance? Is there a lot of hilly terrain? Is there water available along the way? Ask questions and find out all you can about the hiking trip.
Appropriate Hiking Gear is essential for a long hike to make the trip as comfortable as possible. Taking the right food and enough of it is also important but this will be discussed later. Never take too much with - a heavy load while walking long distances is not much fun, take only what you need.
Here is the gear that you will need for a week-long hike:
- A large size good quality backpack
- Hiking boots (preferably waterproof)
- Spare socks
- Spare underwear
- Lightweight shorts
- Thermal top
- Thermal pants
- Warm top
- A beanie & hat
- Rainproof cover for backpack
- An ultralight sleeping bag
- Two (2) one litre water bottles
- Walking poles (optional)
- Small towel
- Sunscreen & sunglasses
- GPS or compass
- A whistle
- Swiss army knife
- Pencil & paper
- Bug repellent
- Toilet paper
- Matches or lighter
- First aid kit
- Tent & hiking mattress (if there is no overnight accommodation available)
- Inflatable pillow (optional)
- Space blanket
- Cooking pot
- Lightweight, small gas cooker
- Knife, fork & spoon
- Water purifying tablets
This may seem like a long list and it is, but some of the items are lightweight and most items are essential for a hiking trip. Many hiking trails have overnight huts with beds and mattresses so these two items may not be necessary. An inflatable pillow may not be needed if you are comfortable laying your head on an item of clothing. Try it out first though.
The food to take with has not yet even been listed, weight can become a problem, it's like trying to take your life with you in a backpack, luxury items must be left behind.
A small shovel should be carried by the group as a whole, perhaps taking turns to carry it; its necessary for burying ablutions if facilities are not available at the overnight stops.
A First Aid Kit should include dressings, gauze, plasters, antiseptic, bandages, pain tablets, a rub for muscle pain, and anti-diarrhoea medication.
Food To Take With
Taking enough of the right food with is important, also not to take too much.
It is best to take non-perishable foods on a long hiking trip except perhaps on the first day when you may be able to cook some meat and vegetables.
A good idea is to pack your food into meals in plastic packets that can be sealed in some way. There is not always time, especially in the mornings to scratch around in your pack for food to make a meal. Be as organised as possible when preparing food to take with. For example you could put cereal with meusli into packets, one for each day, including powdered milk and sugar if you use it.
For lunch you may want to make some instant soup and have energy bars and perhaps some dried fruit; pack a lunch meal such as this ready to eat. Suppers can also be planned and put into packets for easy usage.
The following is a list of the type of foods to take with:
- Cereal or instant oatmeal
- Dried fruit
- Peanuts & raisins
- Apples & other fruit
- Coffee & tea bags
- Powdered milk
- Sugar (optional)
- Salt & pepper
- Instant soup packets
- Biscuits (cookies)
- Peanut butter in packets
- Energy bars
- Powdered energy drinks
- Freeze-dried meals
- Dried vegetables
- Dried potatoes
- Lentils & beans
- Dried meat
You may want to take some bread with to last a few days, also get advice from your local hiking store about what foodstuffs to take with. Take a little alcohol with if you want a drink in the evenings before supper but never overdo it. Work out how much food you need for every day and try not to take too much.
More on Hiking
Sitting thinking and imagining oneself on a long hike is one thing, but actually doing it is not always how it's imagined to be. There are weather conditions such as rain, wind, cold and heat that have to be endured sometimes; that is why preparation is so important. If you buy new boots wear them in first so they feel comfortable on your feet.
Scrambling over rocks and climbing up and down difficult terrain is a challenge. If it gets very hot you might just find it becomes exhausting especially with a heavy pack on your back. Thus training with a pack and going on day hikes is a good idea.
Hiking of course is enjoyable a lot of the time, chatting to someone while walking is relaxing, enjoying the scenery is all part of the experience too. Preparing and having a meal in the evening over a fire will make your day!
Have you done a week-long hike
Note: The views and beliefs expressed in some of the advertising on this page are not necessarily those of the author.
© 2014 David Edward Lynch