Hiking is undoubtedly the exhilaration second to none…2016 is here for good and many of you are already planning your next adventure! If you are an outdoor enthusiast and you love hiking, here are a few essential tips for your hiking holidays:
Hike in a group
Always have at least one other person with you if you are going on low-traffic trails or be accepting of the risk you take in having no one able to aid you. Alternatively, choose a guided trekking tour and explore Greece’s stunning natural landscapes under the guidance of our experienced mountain guides and the companion of other like-minded travelers.
Some of the benefits of hiking in a group:
- Learn from more experienced hikers or pass on your knowledge.
- Aid for injuries.
- Distributing loads for common group gear.
- Meet new people or deepen relationships.
Hydration and Fuels on your trekking
Water is your best companion: mountains are unforgiving, and be it climbing up or down, they will always throw up challenges. Losses on the breath and from sweating will serve to reduce your blood volume, resulting in your heart having to work much harder. By the time you feel thirsty you will already be dehydrated so try and drink small, frequent quantities of water throughout the day, every 20 minutes.
A wholesome breakfast can be the fuel for your day and keeps you full for a long time. Similarly to hydration, your energy requirements will increase whilst you are trekking. Aim to eat small, frequent meals and snacks on the go to maintain energy levels. Small snacks, fruits and nuts are frequently available, easy to carry and eat on the move and excellent for an energy boost.
- Bring and use sunscreen
- A hat to prevent sunburn, even on cloudy or cold days.
Especially above tree line when there is a skin-scorching combination of sun and snow, you’ll need sunglasses to prevent snow blindness and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
You may see rock cairns, piles of rocks, along the trails in Greece.
- Don’t destroy them, but don’t add to them either.
- Don’t create cairns, tree blazes, or any other sign to mark the trail – people should be able to navigate their own route. Your local guide is responsible for managing the land, he will determine which markings are appropriate or not.
Swelling while walking
If your hands swell while hiking, raise them. Hold onto your pack shoulder strap for awhile and see how that helps. Use trek poles to keep your hands elevated a bit and keep the muscles active.
Choose the right shoes and gear
Go to a good gear store and get them to fit you for the ideal boots, then wear them everywhere – we mean everywhere (it’s no time to be fashion conscious). Also don’t forget your walking socks. With plenty of footwear focus, it’s easy to forget about the best type of socks to wear. The right boots with the wrong socks will ruin your trekking trip so when trying on boots, wear the same socks that you intend to use for your trek.
Trust us, you don’t want to suffer blisters on the holiday just because you skimped on the boot preparation!
Pack light, right and on time
Don’t leave your packing to the last-minute. Our experience shows that packing late leads to throwing in non-essential items in a panic. Keep the weight and bulk of your main pack to a minimum by bringing clothes made from lightweight material. One or two changes will be all you need (no one is going to notice, or care, if you’re wearing the same t-shirt).
However, as the weather conditions in Greece are generally mild, without meaning that they can’t be unpredictable, especially in the mainland, mountains or even in the Aegean Islands, make sure you’ve got layers to cope with rain, cold nights or warm days. You will need a medium size, comfortable day-pack to carry personal items, such as your camera, water bottle, valuables, sunscreen, hat etc.
So make sure you’ve got exactly what you need and don’t take unnecessary extras with you on your holidays. Plus while you’re out walking, wear your backpack. Your shoulders will thank you later if they are already used to carrying weight.
Leave no footprint
Going on a hiking trip means you are a nature lover looking to spend your holidays close to the natural environment. It is essential therefore that you try to minimize your footprint and respect the environment. Be considerate of the wildlife, local people and other travelers, make sure you leave no trash behind you and consider using eco-friendly products. Don’t start wood fires or pollute water sources – you might be thousands of miles from home, but the smallest careless actions can be disastrous for local ecosystems and people.
First aid kit
One of the most important items you should have with you when you are going for outdoor activities is a personal first aid kit. While you can purchase ready-made first-aid kits at stores, we recommend making one to suit your needs or even assembling your own. Of course, if you are joining a Trails Beyond exploration, your tour guide is responsible for all that and you don’t have to worry about anything. However, here is a list below with suggested items:
- Any prescription medications in a labeled bag,
- Several sealed, single use packs of ibuprofen, Imodium® (for upset stomach and diarrhea), and an antihistamine (treats allergic reactions),
- Athletic tape,
- Various adhesive bandages of varying size,
- A small roll of sterile gauze,
- A CPR mask,
- Several pairs of latex gloves,
- Alcohol based sanitizing gel,
- A small knife or scissors,
- Antiseptic ointment, to be used only after cleaning a wound,
- Hydro-cortisone cream for insect bites and poisonous plants,
- Safety pins.
Be positive and pace yourself
Being in the right frame of mind is equally as important as your physical preparation. High altitudes aren’t the place to unleash fraught emotions, so try to keep calm during frustrating moments. Keep your trekking at the same pace as the locals. Remember…”Short steps, deep breaths”, particularly when ascending steep passes or completing long uphill stretches.
And don’t cross rivers or swift flowing streams barefoot: your boots will always dry out, but twisted ankles equal end of trek.