“If you are planning to trek through the foothills of Himalayas, this might be a good blog for you”
Trekking might not be everyone’s cup of tea, considering Nepal’s vast landscape and extreme climatic and high altitude scenario, it might as well be a cold cup of tea. Though most of the times an unplanned trip turns out to be the best trip, it’s highly recommended that you do a little research before you start your journey.
Back in the days when I used to trek a lot, people used to ask me; what is it that you love the most about trekking? How can you go to the same place over and over again? There’s no one answer for that question, there are lots of things about trekking that drives me to the same place over and over again. Personally, I love mountains and its mountains that takes me to all those endless tiring walks. Gosaikunda trek can be painstaking for most people, some of them lament on their first trek to the Gosaikunda as being their last ever, whereas for me my last never came. I’ve been there 11 times, and I’d go there the first thing tomorrow morning without a second thought. I know the trails like the back of my hand. I told that to one of my friends, he didn’t believe me but when we actually started walking up to the lakes, I told him about every bits and corners and strangely I was right all of the time (except few- I’m human not Google map). Same thing happened with my trip to the Gosaikunda with my students, I told them about how I can recognize everything, twist and turns and so I did. But still I don’t get bored by those trails or those views, those tiring walk up to the lakes and back! Why? Because there’s a certain sense of pleasure in seeing what you get to see.
One moment you’re walking through a thick dense forest, climbing a tiring and slippery wooden stairs, next thing you know you see marvelous massif of a mountains looming over the vast landscape at distance. The snow-clad mountains shimmering in day light through the canopy of the pine forest. That’s when you feel that- Oh! “This is what I came for moment!” And regardless of how many times I’ve been to that place, the next time feels like the first time in my life! The snowy breeze that chills the top of your ears, tip of your nose, there’s a certain warmth in that coldness. The warmth of satisfaction. I could go on and on about those things but this blog is definitely not about that. It’s about the essentials and informative blog on trekking in Nepal.
Lets start with Packing!
“What to pack? “
What to pack can be a very vast question considering the different form of trekking options! But let us just go through basic packing materials and how not to over pack. First thing first, the most essential and most over packed thing in most of trekkers bag are clothes. In my experience, with tons of different group of friends I have always found that people tend to over pack clothes. Of course its essential to have enough clothes during a trek but using it in an effective way can come handy.
The best thing to do in order to keep your bags light is to pack few, but enough clothes. Might sound confusing but what I mean is- with an assumption that every single trekking destination requires warm clothes; pack a good jacket (preferably windproof down jacket), and then thermals (Thermacoat) or fleece vest and an extra trouser for the night time. Never wear those clothes during the day time at all, just keep it exclusively for the night time. For the day time, just get one trekking trouser and 3 pairs of light T-shirts. You don’t need more than that, during the day time just wear that one trouser every day, switch between the T-shirts from time to time, because it can get soggy with sweats, change it and replace it with another, hang the soggy on the backside of your backpack, in no time it will be dry and good to wear! You don’t need to go through that cycle for a long time as well, just few changes should be fine! During long treks, the T-shirts can get extremely sweaty with your backpack pressed against your back. That way you don’t need to carry a stack of clothes during your trek. (It can get smelly and dirty one might say- You’re trekking not attending a wedding reception so no one would actually care how you look or smell, the next person would smell worse than you do).
The only thing I would suggest anyone to carry more than few is socks: Not because that’ll stink as well, but because it could end up with you getting blisters in the feet so its better to change socks everyday! Specially if you’re walking through snow/water and you managed to get your shoes and socks wet, in those cases if possible, immediately dry your shoes (if possible) if not then try changing the socks. Also, when you’ve walked for a long time and you’re feeling heat on your soles, never ever go and dip your feet in the cold water, you will get blisters. Give it sometime before you do that. Do wash your legs at the end of the day; change the socks, if possible wash the one used that day! If its too cold for it to get dry, hang it on your backpack the next day! I suggest you to take at least 4 pairs of socks. By the way I almost forgot about the shoes! Ha! If you’re thinking about being a regular on the trails, get a good pair of trekking shoes. I’d suggest Cedar or North Face, I’ve been using a North Face boot for the last 3 years and it’s still going strong! Bought it off from Thamel at 6k! Buying a cheap shoes means replacing it soon, so buying 6 shoes worth 1k for 6 times in few years is better than getting a good one that lasts for a long time. Even if you’re not thinking about trekking regularly, you’d still have to wear shoes right? Don’t compromise on the shoes.
When you have to walk on trails like this, your shoes will definitely get wet!
Few other essentials things to carry in the clothes departments are: Gloves- extremely essential in places where it can get very windy (Example- Lauribina, Tilicho Lake, Thorangla, Kalinchowk). Never forget a good woolen hat (Topi) or Down. It’s extremely essential in places where the weather can change dramatically. One of the times when I was crossing the Thorang La, it got so cold that I had to wear everything I had, I literally carried an empty bag (except for the books and binoculars- I wore everything that was wearable).
The second most important thing comes in the food/drinking department. I don’t think I need to go through the “Drinking water bottle” thing, because we all know that we need that. Lets directly go to those things that can come in handy. First of all, carry a packet of Glucose and few sachet of ORS (Electrobion or Jivanjal) that will help you a lot. For the last few years I have found “Hajmola” tablets to be extremely effective (at least for me). With the constant long walk and sweating, the salt-water balance can be affected, so ORS will be very effective and repeated consumption of Hajmola can be effective as well. Carry chocolates! They’ll always help. There’s nothing that chocolates can’t heal! Take tons of chocolates! One thing I never miss on are dry meat as well (if you like dry meat). I usually take dry meats, it helps a lot. For shorter treks i.e. 2-3 days, get a fresh packet of bread and then carry one bottle of peanut butter, not only will it kill your hunger but that peanut butter (Carbohydrates+Fats) could be source of energy as well.
Lets talk about medicines: Definitely the most essential thing on the list: The most important medicine has to be “Metronidazole”. Do not forget to take Metron with you. Other essential medicines in the list can be Paracetamols, Felxons, Antihistamines. Another important list would be Move Spray or Diclofenac gels if you do end up getting sprains and also don’t forget those bandages. Also do not forget hand sanitizers. Take all the basic medicines. On my personal experience, one medicine you shouldn’t forget if you are doing a week or more of trekking is Anti-fungal, Anti-Bacterial creams like Cloben G. It will come in very very handy when you’ve been trekking for a long time and don’t have the will or courage to take a bath in the clod waters of the alpines. Another medicine that you shouldn’t forget is Acetazolamide (Diamox), specially when you’re about to hit 3500 meters+. And it’s highly recommended to not drink alcohol or smoke, but I know most of you will ignore it anyways so I won’t go into the details of it. But when you’re in the high altitude, its better not to drink alcoholic beverages. (A blog on Physiology of that will come very soon). You could take water purification tablets as well, but most Nepali people don’t need it so its just up to you, though that could be something that I would recommend as well.
Now we move on to the stuff that might helps us at times:
Toilet papers: Apart from all those things mentioned above, the next thing that comes first on the list of things that will help us. I’d keep toilet papers on the top of the list. If you forgot the metron tabs and your stomach went the other way, you will need few rolls of toilet papers. Or if you’re in a clod region, you’d not want to touch the water at all. And, if you’re in my condition as shown in the photo below, then trust me! You’d love these things. Also keep a bundle of wet wipes, they can be really useful at times.
A frozen water bucket in the bathroom!
Rain coats: Rain coats are super important depending upon the seasons. So carrying a big thick raincoats can be a problem so best thing would be to carry a small water proof windcheater and trousers- those thin ones that could fit in your pockets. Or you could just get by with rain plastics, costs about 80 rupees and its good enough as well plus very light! But do carry something to shield you from the rains.
Headlamps and batteries: Never forget headlamps, they’ll always come in handy. Whether you lose your way or just end up being late to reach your destination, headlamps will come in handy. Of course take extra batteries. And take it out of the lamps when you don’t need it and cover it with warm clothes. Also take extra batteries for your cameras!
A multi-plug: You might be wondering! Why a multi-plug? Well, because the first thing anyone would want to do is to charge their phones! Most of the trekking routes don’t have a charging point inside the room and even if they have it, they usually have a single port. So instead of fighting with your friends to charge your phone or cameras first, take a small 4 port multi-plug and carry it in rotation among the friends. Also keep your phone on flight modes on those places where there’s no network. It will save your battery life + keep your phone in a warm place so that the battery doesn’t get drained. Also carry with you the prong connectors, most of the places might not have the two prong slot or your camera’s charger might have a three prong connector, in that case carry a connector with you.
Sandals and slippers: If you want you can take light weight sandals and slippers for getting around the hotels during the night.
Walking sticks, Sunglasses, Sunscreens: Though I don’t use anyone of these, it could be useful for other people so depending upon your necessity you can carry these. (Do carry those chapsticky things? Vaselines? I’m not sure what those things are called, your lips could dry up bad so its better to carry those!)
Fire-starters (and Knives): Carry fire-starters for the worst case scenarios i.e. if you get lost and knives to start the fire or just to be safe (In any such cases, but Nepal is pretty safe so you don’t have to worry but a small knife can come in handy in many cases)
Sleeping bags and tents: If you don’t mind taking a little weight with you you can carry sleeping bags just to be warm. And if you are headed for remote areas with no guest houses then you’d need a tent as well.
Band-aids: Take enough band-aids even if you might not need one, you never know!
Compass and Altimeter: If possible do carry a compass, or any app that’s good enough to work as a compass and altimeter.
Whistle: Not necessary but can be useful at times, if you’re in large groups.
Maps: Carrying maps with you always helps
Gaiters: They could be useful in places with too many leeches
Insect repellent: Not sure if they will come handy but if there are leeches and bugs, and you despise them! It’s better to carry them as well.
While planning a trek, always keep your day to + 1 or 2. We all know how everything works in Nepal but it’s not just that, there might be time when you fall back on your initial day due to many obstacles so its better to keep and extra day or two. Same goes with the money, always carry extra and don’t depend on the ATM. I have faced the ATM problem myself, on one of my trips to Gosaikunda, I didn’t take enough cash with me, thinking that there’d an ATM in Dhunche, and there are few ATMs in Dhunche but none of the worked that time, I almost got into trouble but then I go there so often, I worked out a plan B! So always be on the safe side!!
One last suggestion!
“Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time”
Have An awesome trek!!