As the days grow longr and the nights grow warmer, many will begin to head out on overnight adventures. Of the many, a few will be experiencing the wonderful world of backcountry camping for the first time. Overnight trips can be a little scary your first time out, and there is a lot to know. Let's take a listen to a first time overnighter and what he learned on his first time out.
Walking off into the bush to spend some days and nights in nature is a glorious thing.
But the experience might not be so glorious if your feet are covered in blisters, your back hurts from a badly packed backpack, and you have a crying fit because you don't know how to put your tent up. Gov Krishan, a 32-year-old data analyst in Melbourne, had a mix of the glorious and the pain with his first-ever overnight hiking trip in Tasmania last year. "I'd never actually pitched a tent before," he says. "I had slept outdoors, sort of glamping, but not proper camping." Gov did practice putting his borrowed tent up before his trip, but he says he wasn't as prepared for it as he would have liked. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done," he says. "The physical part of it was a struggle. After sitting down in the car [at the end of the trip], my legs were so sore." Here are some tips for preparing for your first overnight hike from Gov and John Ralph, a personal trainer and bushwalking expert from Launceston, Tasmania. Quick disclaimer: This is general advice only. Always check with local authorities about safety tips for the area you want to hike in. It's best to travel with friends and not go alone for your first attempt at multi-day hiking. Check with your doctor about any health concerns before heading bush with a heavy backpack.
Play Dress-ups to Check All Your Gear
Dr Ralph says there are three things he recommends you do before going bush. "Checking your fitness, checking your gear and checking your routine for getting yourself ready," he says. Gov says he had done a few one-day walks before his first overnight trip, but he found carrying 15 kilograms on his back and walking 40 kilometres over two days was more than he was physically prepared for. Doing practice day walks with a full backpack is a good idea, says Dr Ralph. You can borrow or rent camping gear, but make sure you practice using it before heading off. "What's really, really important with all of those things is if you're heading off for a multi-day walk or somewhere that's going to be quite away from support, don't take anything that you haven't already tried somewhere," he says. You should look for a backpack with adjustable straps so you can fit it to your back, and it should have a waist strap so that the weight of the pack sits mostly on your hips and doesn't pull too much on your shoulders. Exactly what you need to take on an overnight hike depends on where you are going, how long you're going for, what the weather forecast is and your personal preferences. Trying on the clothes you intend to take to make sure they fit and are right for the area and season you are going is also a good idea, Dr Ralph says. The most important part of clothing to wear before your walk is your shoes. You never want to wear brand-new shoes on a long walk. "There are many tried and true ways on how people prepare their shoes," Dr Ralph told ABC Hobart Evenings program. "But at the end of the day, the more you're walking, the softer they get and the firmer your feet get." Having an all-weather coat is generally a must for an overnight walk as weather can change quickly. Dr Ralph says while waterproof clothing will keep the rain off, it will also keep your sweat in, so wear clothing that can get a sweaty and still be comfortable to wear. "Ditch the idea of being warm and dry, because you're not going to be dry very often in this whole experience," he says.
Do Your Research
Gov says they were lucky with the weather on his trip. He suggests keeping track of the weather forecast and being prepared to change plans if it looks like it will be too cold or hot for you. "I think if it had been raining it would have been pretty miserable and I don't think I would have made it if it was 30-odd degrees up that hill," he says. Dr Ralph says you should always research the walk you want to do before getting there so you have a good idea of how hard it might be and what sort of resources will you need to have with you. Social media walking groups and online forums can be good places to get advice for what you will need and hard the walk will be. You will need a first-aid kit – at least some band aids, blister covers, compression bandage for rolled ankles, salt for dealing with leaches and probably some insect repellent is a good idea. Again, it will need to tailored to the area and your needs. "The more remote you're intending to go, the bigger your first-aid kit's going to be," Dr Ralph says.
No Internet! Don't Rely on Your Phone for Safety
Let's face it, you will be bringing your phone with you to take all those selfies at the top of that hill you just slogged up. Dr Ralph says a plastic snap-lock bag to put it in to keep it dry is a good idea. It's risky to rely on your phone for navigation and as your emergency helpline, as GPS apps can drain your battery quickly and you may not have mobile reception. Personal location beacons (PLBs) are handheld electronic devices that you can rent for a trip and will act like a "bat signal" should you need someone to come and get you, says Dr Ralph. It's also really important to let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back, so they can raise the alarm if they don't hear from you that you got back safely.
Take Lots of Snacks and Water
One of the biggest mistakes Gov and his walking friends made with their trip was trying to make a big communal meal for everyone at the end of a long day of walking and it taking far too long to cook, Gov says. He recommends taking food that is quick and easy to prepare for when you're tired and maybe getting a little hangry. "[It] doesn't have to be fancy, but should be tasty and substantial after the physical effort," Gov says. Do take plenty of chocolate and sugary snacks for the walk, and most importantly, make sure everyone has enough water for the whole trip. "We had enough water, but some others on the trip didn't, so we had to share our water," he says. While it was physically tough and some mistakes were made with dinner, in the end Gov says it was all worth it for the scenery and time with friends.
Originally posted on ABC News Australia on November 20, 2021
(Sunday, May 22, 2022)
Once again this week, we had to cancel today's hike due to lack of interest. I believe it most likely has to do with the distance to the hikes and the ever increasing cost of fuel. As such, I have decided to pause the Beaver Valley hikes for the time being, and move the hikes closer to Home. I will plan and post new hikes all within the Niagara, Hamilton/Wentworth and Halton Hills Regions to make the hikes more accessible to a larger crowd. We will re-visit and complete the Beaver Valley near the end of summer, and hopefully fuel costs will come down by that time. The last ever, Defy Gravity: Learn to Climb, event is scheduled to take place next Saturday, and we have 20 eager participants signed up. I am very sad to see the end of this event, it has always had phenominal reviews and all the participants of the past left feeling accomplished. I will try to find another location to host this event. In the meantime, I am looking into setting up outdoor climbing lessons, but I can only host 5 persons at a time. We have one spot left on our 2022 Expedition to Manitoulin Island and the Heaven's Gate Trail. This will be a Seven Day trip that will include the Cup and Saucer Trail, a beautiful AirBnB stay, and 4 days on the Heaven't Gate Trail where we will camp under the stars and Northern Lights. Make sure to get your spot now!
That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club