A trek into the folds of the wild and to be one with nature is on the bucket list of every woman and man living the strenuous life in the hectic modern day. Many of you see it as a means of an escape from the monotonous day to day living. For others, it is a matter of communing with nature. Whatever the reason, a trek into the wild all by yourself is a way of rediscovering yourself, mentally, physically and spiritually.
Of late, there has been a rise in the number of solo travelers and trekkers across the globe. The idea of taking off by oneself is often seen as the ultimate act of self-discovery. However romantic this may sound, there are several pitfalls to traveling alone. Yet if the thought process is set right, a solo trek can turn into an adventure of a lifetime.
There are several aspects to the preparation of a solo trek. More often than not, women are advised not to travel alone. But that does not mean she should not do so. Advance preparation and setting up of self-rules are the first steps to a successful solo trek adventure.
Rules to remember:
Check and recheck: Test all the equipment and gear required for the trek, well in advance. Your shoes should be broken in and comfortable. All clothes should be comfortable and practical. Your backpack should be durable with no damage in sight.
Family and friends: Keep your family and friends informed about your plans. Places you intend to stay in, the route you plan to take, dates and times of your trek. Keeping them informed will help them keep track of you and provide you with a security blanket in case of an emergency.
Watch the weather: Before you set up the dates for your trek, keep in mind the weather in the area. Follow the weather prediction for the dates of your intended trek and then decide.
A first aid kit: A good first aid kit is a necessity on such an adventure. Antibiotics for common ailments like fever, colds, upset stomachs is a must, along with bandages, antiseptics, bug repellents, sunscreens, pain relief medication, etc. If you are prone to any kind of health conditions, be sure to carry an ample supply of your medications.
Be aware: Always be consciously aware of your surroundings. Do not plug in your earphones as these blocks off your hearing making it extremely dangerous.
Trust your instincts: Listen to your gut when it tells you a situation is bad. A woman’s intuition is the best advantage. Learn to listen to it.
Make friends: Do not close yourself off from other hikers and the locales. Be warm and friendly and you might be surprised at the friends you make and the experiences you amass. But exercise a healthy dose of caution.
Defense tools: Carry a shrill whistle with you and use it in emergencies. Also, carry a sturdy lock to lock the doors where you are planning to stay. Be careful with your belongings.
No risks please: Do not take risks along your trek. Do not deviate too much from a marked course. Do not leave a shelter in case of bad weather conditions. If you are forced to change your trek route, do be sure to pass the message to your friends and family.
Personal Hygiene: Taking care of your hygiene while on a trek is important. Use wet wipes, tissues and a damp towel to take a dry bath. Change your clothes during your trek. At campsites wear fresh dry clothes to keep your body clean and prevent stink.
The physical preparation: Surviving a trek physically is the most important part of the adventure. These steps will help you by miles.
Baby Steps: Begin your preparations with small treks around your city. Increase the distances as your stamina and skill increase.
The Pace: Set your own pace and distance. Do not overexert or tire yourself out.
Eat well: Trekking requires many calories. Hence eat well a high-calorie diet. Carry snacks that are high in calories.
The backpack: Get used to carrying your things on a backpack. Learn to travel light. Be sure your body can carry the weight of the backpack.
Stay hydrated: Carry enough water to last you for the trek duration. With rising ground pollution levels, it is not advisable to drink from streams and rivers.
Exercises: Maintain a good exercise routine of walking, jogging, running, skipping, squats, breathing exercises or yoga. These will strengthen your muscles and give you the flexibility your body needs to take on the rough terrain of the mountains.
Planning the adventure:
Lists are your friends: Create lists when planning your adventure. List for items in your backpack, first aid kit, toiletries, food, and other trekking essentials. This will ensure that you do not forget or miss out an item.
The route: For the first couple of treks, choose routes which are well known and well researched. Avoid roads less traveled till you gain the expertise and experience for such locales. There are several safe trek routes in India for solo women travelers, for example, Kudremukh trek in the Western Ghats near Bangalore. It gives you luxuriant forests, numerous waterfalls, delicious valley views and good for beginners as well. Check Kudremukh trek itinerary here.
Maps and coordinates: Learn to use GPS and maps. In some terrains, a GPS device may not work, in these circumstances; you might need to use a physical map. Learn to use one well.
Be discreet: Use the social media to your advantage but do not post every step on it too. At times posting your coordinates can be dangerous as unscrupulous elements can target you too.
Go for it! There are several books which describe the journey of self-discovery during such solo treks. One of the more popular ones is ‘Girl in the Woods’. The book is a memoir of Aspen Matis of her journey across the Pacific Coast to Canada. She says in this ‘We aren’t afraid of what we can explain’.
No matter what the society says against a woman trekking solo, a solo trek for a woman is an experience of a lifetime. It is a teaching experience to oneself in balancing all physical and emotional upheavals. When you open the doors to new experiences, you will find that you are emerging as a new being.