As the country enters Unlock 5.0 and travel restrictions are being eased by state governments, trekking is emerging as a popular outdoor family activity to unwind and de-stress – Archana N.
In his bestselling book The Land Beyond: A Thousand Miles on Foot through the Heart of the Middle East (2017), Irish author Leon McCarron chronicles a trek from Jerusalem to Mount Sinai in Egypt, and details his interactions with people en route who often asked him why he was walking. His answer: “Walking is the slowest possible way to go through a place. And that means that you see it in a much deeper way.”
2020 — the pandemic year — has been tough on all people of all age groups. Covid-19 restrictions and stay-at-home orders have taken a toll on people’s physical, emotional and mental health. Now, as the country enters Unlock 5.0 and lockdown restrictions are being eased by state governments, a rising number of families are venturing forth to local destinations, and several treks and trails have opened up to hikers and trekkers.
Trekking is emerging as a popular outdoor en famille activity to unwind and de-stress. It improves health and fitness, alleviates emotional well-being and promotes family bonding. A 2015 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that individuals who walked 90 minutes within a natural habitat indicated decreased activity in part of the brain associated with depression compared with those who walked in high-traffic urban settings.
Here are some guidelines to plan a family trekking expedition:
- With Covid-19 infection still a threat, choose a local/driving distance destination for trekking.
- Check the latest weather report of the destination before heading out. “It’s important to check out the weather report as excessive rain may damage trekking trails,” says Chandan H.N., founder, Trekkers, a Bengaluru/Mysuru-based camping and trekking tours company.
- If you’re a first-timer it’s advisable to accompany professionals. “Safety is important. If a trek includes adventure activities such as rock climbing, it’s important to sign up for the services of professional instructors. Also if the trek is in a forest/remote area, it’s advisable to enlist the services of guides familiar with the trekking trail. Moreover, forest treks require permission of forest department officials,” says Clement Dominic, operations executive, Bangalore Mountaineering Club.
- Write down a backpacking checklist. Under-packing is as detrimental as over-packing. An ideal backpack should not be more than 25-30 percent of your body weight.
- Pack clothes, toiletries and other items according to their need. Essential items include travel documents, first aid kit, medication and sterilizing kit, mosquito repellent, sanitiser, mask, raincoat, water bottle, torch light, personal medication, energy food, sunscreen and sunglasses. “For overnight treks, you can rent waterproof tents, solar lanterns and other equipment to reduce expenses,” says Chandan H.N
- Distribute the weight in the backpack so the lightest items are packed at bottom. Heavy items should be packed at the centre of your pack and close to your back.
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