Hiking hacks: How to prepare for a mountaineering adventure

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Fun activities for preparing for a mountaineering adventure. {Jayne Rose Gacheri,/The Standard}

One activity gaining popularity, and is on the top list of tourism attractions is hiking.

However, if you are yet to include hiking in your adventure experiences, or have done so, but are not a pro yet, there are things you should consider before you set out or if you want to improve your skills and technique.

Betty and Major Muiruri of Major Muiruri Team Builders, a training outfit based in Meru say “Hiking is not just a form of exercise, but it is a way to get to know yourself and to discover nature in its original form, and the best thing about hiking is that it is free and accessible to a wide range of physical abilities, which makes it a great outdoor activity for all.”

The couple, who also train in team building say that for beginners, starting can feel a bit intimidating.

They give the tips below to new and non-pro hikers.

Prepare beforehand. Research your perceived hike. This will help you to understand the trail, the weather, what to take, and what to expect.

Fitness is key. Some hikes such as scaling the Aberdare, conquering Ugali Hill, and chasing waterfalls require physical preparedness. It all depends on the toughness of the terrain and altitude.

Always have sneakers, a pair of proper hiking boots, a pair of shorts, and a T-shirt or tracksuit. The type of dressing, whether to dress light, warm, or heavy will depend on the weather and terrain.

Other items could include a cap, sunscreen, gloves, water (carry the water in a water bladder or hydration vest), a walking stick, a hat; and picnic items such as food, fire-starters, a multipurpose tool, a flashlight, and batteries.

Read up on basic first aid. Every hiker must have some basic knowledge of first aid to help keep their group healthy and comfortable in case of any type of injury, minor or serious.

Remember to pace yourself. Hiking is the journey, not the destination. Racing through the hike to get to the waterfall, vista, or summit could take away from your hiking experience. However, moving at a comfortable pace.

This gives you time to soak in the scenery, and stopping for breaks will ensure you enjoy the hike. Remember that once you get to where you’re headed, you will still have enough energy to celebrate!

Find a hike-in camp for ultimate satisfaction. A well-planned hiking adventure should lead the hikers somewhere awesome. There is nothing more satisfying than hiking to your camp for the night. A good hiking camp should offer all kinds of hike-in spots to rest your head after a long day of a great outdoor adventure.

Dos and don’ts

Do not litter. Carry a litterbag if you are solo. If you are in a group, it is the responsibility of the team leader/organiser to ensure this does not happen. Litter is anything that does not occur naturally in the hiking environment, including tissue paper, fruit peels, and coffee or tea residues. 

Do not feed or interfere with wildlife. Feeding animals might change their behaviour as they can begin to associate people with food. Parks have rules. Obey these rules. 

Leave everything as you found it: For instance do not deface trees and rocks by scratching your initials into trees (which might kill them), or leaving marks on the rocks.

Do not take shortcuts always stay on established trails as going off-trail can cause environmental degradation. Making your own trail damages ecosystems and can also be dangerous.

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