Introduction

I am not speaking about hiking which many people do simply to impress others because I have seen many people do that, put on sports gear, carry a back pack and walk for a kilometer or two on the outskirts of their cities, take some selfies and think they have done it all.

In fact, real hiking is done by the tribal people and villagers who walk for miles together each day to accomplish whatever it is they intend to and in the bargain added on many health benefits too. It is a way of life with them. They remain fit and healthy without any need to take extra precautions about their weight and since their food is basic and simple that too is not a worry. For most of these people walking from place to place is a necessity unlike most of us city dwellers who need to make time and look for opportunity since it is not easy to find open unpolluted places where one can walk freely. At the most one can hope to walk within the confinements of a public park or through the by lanes of our city.

Kodai Dolphins nose

Hiking and walking through open places

Coming back to Hiking, backpacking, nature walk and mountaineering - these are all outdoor activities of walking through hills and mountains to reach the summit to meet a challenge that we set for ourselves that have become very popular with people across world and is catching up here in India in a big way. It is one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities which anyone regardless of age can take up.

Many foreigners visiting India prefer to see places walking through little towns and tourist spots just to get the feel of the place and benefiting as well from the exercise and physical exertion. It is the feeling you get when you are out there in the open , amidst nature that is incomparable to any other experience. If you have the right company, then it is all the more fulfilling. I met an American Mexican couple who were  touring India on feet, trekking through short routes that often took them through fields and hills which they had drawn themselves after consulting local people. I could see that they were enjoying the whole experience. 

In India, Nature Trails and Resorts, offer hill walking and Camp craft to adults and children alike. However, there are no hill walking clubs in India which makes it difficult for people interested in trekking and backpacking since they have to depend on private guides and trails that are roughly drawn and often dangerous because of the lack of facilities. However if one is interested, it is not difficult to form a group of like- minded adventure loving people who could get together and plan fun-filled, outdoor activities. Besides being rejuvenating it is also a very healthy activity that keeps you fit at any age.

There are some people who prefer hiking alone. According to one of them known to me, it is better than having a group or a companion who may have different ideas to that of yours. When you are alone, you are your own master and can do what you want and go where you want and live as you like during that period. The only drawback may be a certain amount of danger this may pose to the individual when there are unexpected and unwanted intrusions.

A few helpful points to bear in mind while planning a trek either alone, with your family or friends

1. First of all, make a list of everything that may be needed during the hike and during emergencies that may arise during the trek.

2. Make sure that you wear sensible clothes that don’t come in the way or restrict your movement while you are walking on a rough terrain. A sturdy pair of waterproof walking shoes is a must because many a times we come across streams, waterfalls and rivers that may need to be crossed. It is also helpful to carry a small pair of scissors or a knife and some rope. Carrying all your essentials in a backpack is a very practical thing to do because your hands are free and you can carry more weight on your back without feeling the burden.

3. Less is more when you go trekking because the more you carry the heavier it becomes with each step. So, make sure that you carry the bare essentials like water, sufficient food, Insect repellent cream, face towel, pair of binoculars so that you don’t miss out on nature's wonders and a kit consisting of first aid and some medication for allergy and fever.

4. Camera or a smartphone can be very helpful for communication, and if necessary to click those unexpected moments of joy and wonder that nature sometimes bestows on us, so that you can later admire it as many times as you want, also share it with your loved ones and others.

5. Avoid treks that are known to be unsafe, dangerous and are infested with anti -socials or has steep slopes. There have been many incidents where innocent trekkers have been captured by anti -social elements or where trekkers have gone missing for days before outsiders became aware of the fact. Many deaths happen because the trekkers had not taken enough precaution before setting out.

6. Now, it has been advised by most hiking clubs that you carry a sturdy walking stick that has a firm grip with you when you walk through narrow mountain paths or climbing up a steep mountain side. It gives the added support and makes your climb or hike that much easier.

Conclusions

We must remember that life is short and one can take part in strenuous activities only if one is fit. To remain fit and healthy,  it is essential to remain active. We cannot afford to waste a single minute that is at our disposal and activities like walking and trekking enhance the quality of our life because of the health benefits we derive from them. It is a complete experience that engulfs an individuals body and soul.

We need to teach our children and youngsters early in life to respect, admire and enjoy the outdoors and the abundance that nature has bestowed on us. Parents should plan treks and outdoor activities as often as possible rather than spend time in malls or let children spend long hours playing games in video and computer game parlors. The more exposure children have of outdoor life the more sensitive they become as adults. It is a known fact that nature lovers are also caring of other people and their needs, besides helping in preserving the environment.

( image - personal)

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