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Basics Before you go for Hiking

Planning for a backpacking trip works pretty much the same as planning for everyday life. Some people like planning, some people hate it. Some do it better than others. But everyone agrees (as much as everyone agrees on anything) that you need to know certain basics before you go tromping off in to the back of beyond.

Here's what they are:

General Instructions

Trekking is a completely different world of activities when compared with our normal life. Uncertainties have to be faced with courage and determination. To face all these unlike problems, some important tips for a traveler on these adventurous yet demanding terrains are being described below:

Feet Care

Because of their distance from the body core, feet have the poorest circulation of blood. To make matters worse, they are always close to snow or ice while trekking, especially in low temperatures it may cause a frost nip or frostbite. To avoid this problem try to keep your feet dry and warm in adequate insulation. Practice well before trekking by walking daily to make your feet used to carry your body for longer distances. Massage your feet whenever you find a break or rest stop. One small blister can spoil the whole trekking program so try to keep your feet in extraordinary good condition. Similarly nails of your feet require special attention, especially walking down a slope if the feet are not properly fit in the shoes, it may break a nail, which is very painful. It is recommended to cut your nails deeply before start trekking.

Blisters

Always use well-broken shoes while trekking and ensure that socks have no seams or holes, which may become a cause to develop a blister. Use of a powder or application of a cr�me is best to keep the feet fresh and to avoid blisters. A layer of sticky plaster or zinc oxide tape to the site of the rubbing is also useful. People who suffer from blisters invariably do so in the same places each time, and so these parts should always be protected before any walking is done. The sooner the offending site is treated, the less chances there is of the blister becoming a problem.

If the blister is allowed to develop beyond this stage, it is best treated by the application of a modern proprietary blister remedy. These products have an anti-septic, anti-friction jelly trapped between two layers of plastic and thus not only aid healing but also prevent further damage and make the blister comfortable enough for further walking to take place. If this is not available, the blister should be carefully burst with a sterile needle, dressed with a clean, dry dressing and covered in zinc oxide tape. If this adheres well, it is best left in place until base is reached. Sticking plaster, which includes a gauze pad should not be used as the friction between the plaster, the gauze and the foot can exacerbate the problem.

Cooking in the Tent

Cooking in the tent is risky. It's also a convenience and at times a necessity. The risk goes from the relatively minor ones of spilling pots onto sleeping bags or increasing condensation inside the tent to the deadly danger of tent fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. Nevertheless, cooking inside may be required if it is so windy or too cold that the stove will not operate outside. A tent vestibule is a big advantage because it provides the protection of cooking inside, with fewer risks.

Following are some additional tips on inside cooking

How to Clean A Sleeping Bag

After continuous use, a sleeping bag may become dirty and un-hygienic. The sleeping bag should always be kept clean and should not be shared. Since there are different types of sleeping bags so cleaning varies from bag to bag. Basically it depends upon the material of the bag.

Polyester bags pose no problem and can be washed in tepid water with a mild soap. Please do not wash with detergents and never dry-clean it.

The only type of machine to be used is the oversized, commercial; rotating drum washer but hand washing is safer and thus recommended. After washing, best method to dry a sleeping bag is to hang on a line for overnight and later keep in normal room temperature for another 24 hours. Down filled bags are not to be treated by this method and it is better to discard a dirty bag and to buy a new one.

The Ten Essentials for Hiking/Climbing

  1. Map. A map not only tells you where you are and how far you have to go, it can help you find campsites, water, and an emergency exit route in case of an accident.

  2. Compass. A compass can help you find your way through unfamiliar terrain�especially in bad weather where you can't see the landmarks.

  3. Water and a way to purify it. Without enough water, your body's muscles and organs simply can't perform as well: You'll be susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness. not to mention the abject misery of raging thirst.

  4. Extra Food. Any number of things could keep you out longer than expected: a lengthy detour, getting lost, an injury, difficult terrain. A few ounces of extra food will help keep up energy and morale.

  5. Rain Gear and extra clothing. Because the weatherman is not always right. Especially above treeline, bring along extra layers. Two rules: Avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin), and always carry a hat.

  6. Firestarter and matches. The warmth of a fire and a hot drink can help prevent an encounter with hypothermia. And fires are a great way to signal for help if you get lost.

  7. First aid kit. Prepackaged first aid kits are available at most chemists. Double your effectiveness with knowledge: Take a basic first aid class, offered by many organizations.

  8. Army knife or multi-purpose tool. These enable you to cut strips of cloth into bandages, remove splinters, fix broken eyeglasses, and perform a whole host of repairs on malfunctioning gear�not to mention cut cheese and open cans.

  9. Flashlight and extra bulbs. For finding your way in the dark and signaling for help.

  10. Sun screen and sun glasses. Especially above treeline when there is a skin-scorching combination of sun and snow, you'll need sunglasses to prevent snowblindness, and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.