So you are considering heading out on your first multi-day bush walk? Or perhaps you have done a long distance walk before but it has been a while and you want to refresh your knowledge.
Here are 5 simple tips to make the experience that much more pleasurable
1. Pack light
One of the most common errors made by first-time hikers is carrying too much stuff in your backpack that you do not really need. These may be items such as heavy books, appearance items such as hairbrushes, chairs or excessive amounts of clothing. There are multitude of pack checklists available freely on the internet these days. The important thing is to choose a list that suits the conditions you will be hiking in, whether it is desert sun or coastal rain, and stick it to it. Do not add more. Remember, on a multi-day hike, you are going to get dirty and smelly. You have to just live with it and remember that it is not date-night.
2. Test out your shoes before you go
Making sure you have the right footwear is one of the most important things when going on a multi-day walk. It can determine whether you love the experience or hobble off back home never to return again.
There is much discussion as to whether you should wear heavy leather hiking boots or lighter weight, but less sturdy, runners. Very little of this discussion is particularly scientific, and it probably depends on your personal comfort as well as the conditions of the walk and the cost of the shoes.
One thing that you should always do before starting a multi-day hike however, regardless of your shoe preference, is test them before you go. Being confident that your shoes will not give you blisters will make a huge difference in the long run.
3. Be safe
These days most multi-day hikes are never too far away from roads and other signs of human life. Yet, this does not mean you should abandon some basic safety precautions. If you are going out without a professional guide, make sure you tell people where you are going, carry maps, compass and a first aid kit, and if you are going more remote some emergency device such as a personal locator beacon. For those who saw the movie 127 hours, you get a sense of what can happen when you fail to follow some of these basic tips.
If it is your first walk, it is also a good idea to choose a walk within your fitness and skill capacity. Start with a two-day walk to test gear before you commence a walk like Larapinta in Australia or the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA.
4. Start early
One of best things you can do to ensure you get the most out of a multi-day walk is start early in the day. Having the full day to walk means you will not be in such a rush to get to a campsite before dark, it will give you more time to rest, and it will also allow to get through several kilometres of walking before the heat of the day starts. This is really important in hotter climates where you want to minimise fatigue and not use up all your water at once.
In all likelihood, you probably will not have the best sleep of your life the first night in the tent so you are probably going to be awake early the next day. Starting early will also help alter your body clock for this as well so that you adjust to the natural circadian rhythms of the bush.
5. Walk with friends
Walking with others has several benefits when going out bush on a multi-day hike. First, there are others to help you if something goes wrong or someone gets injured. Also, you can reduce your overall pack weight by sharing equipment such as tents, cooking pots, gas cylinders and safety items. Bushwalking standards normally recommend that you walk in groups of three or more as a precaution. Finding the right number is ultimately up to you. Lastly, there is joy to be had in walking with friends. Who can forget the famous last words of Into the Wild, “happiness is best when shared”.