What The Wild Women Team Wish They Knew Before They Started Hiking
By the Wild Women Team
When you’re first starting out, hiking can be a little daunting.
There’s the gear, for starters. Backpacks, poles and hiking boots, sleeping bags and tents. And let’s not get started on ‘wee funnels’.
There’s the fitness part, wondering if you’ll be able to keep up with the group or make it to the summit.
There’s nature in all its unpredictable glory – spiders, snakes, ticks, leeches, rain, sun, wind, cliffs… for many, these things can be seriously scary.
We get it. We’ve all been there. It’s scary to start something new. But it’s also exciting. The possibility. The steep learning curve. The new friends. Getting out of your comfort zone can be an incredible tonic, a magical health elixir which shakes up your life!
As one of our team members, Sasha, wrote to us in an email: “Becoming a Wild Woman can start by one day just lacing up some shoes and walking out your front door. Maybe grabbing a girlfriend for a local “walk and talk”. Maybe for some well-overdue alone time. Maybe with the family.
Then it might be looking at walking a bit further. Then maybe you make a day or mini-cation of it – Blue Mountains, Tassie, New Zealand. Then one day you might wake up and feel like grabbing your besties for a walking trip to the Amalfi Coast, doing the Inca Trail or getting into the mountains for Kili.
You put on your figurative Big Girl Adventure Pants, sign up for something like Coastrek or book that Adventure - THEN figure out the rest…”
We want you to feel supported as you take that leap of faith - armed with the tips and tricks the experts think you should know.
So we’ve rounded up the best hiking tips from all our Wild Women Coaches and Head Office team. Some are funny, some are serious, all are important to learn.
1. Take water
Always. Don’t assume you’ll be able to fill up your bottle on your hike, because you may not be able to. This is super important as it could save your life.
“I remember climbing Walsh’s Pyramid in Cairns. It’s a five-hour return hike for experienced walkers and is extremely steep. My partner and I took two 400ml water bottles, thinking we’d be able to fill up on the route. There was nothing. No taps, no creeks. Nothing. So we hiked for five hours in 35 degree heat with 800ml between us. It was awful. It really takes away from the enjoyment of the experience and is, of course, dangerous.” Sophia – Digital Content Producer
Not pictured: Sophia crying because she was hot, hungry, thirsty and tired.
2. It’s all in the training
The more you train, the more fun you’ll have on your hike. That’s key! Training in the conditions you’ll experience is also critical. For example, if you’re training to climb a mountain, you’ll want to practice going up hills and stairs. If you’re training for a long, flat walk, you’ll want to do endurance sessions. If you’re training for a heavy pack carry, carry a heavy pack!
“When I was hiking uphill in Lord Howe, I wished I had done a lot more uphill training rather than just long distance.” – Lara, Accountant
This might look relaxing, but it was no walk in the park!
3. Save space wherever you can
If you’re carrying a lot on your back, you want to reduce weight and space in lots of small ways. Here’s some of the best ones.
“Wrap your trekking poles in a few wraps of electrical tape or gaffa tape for quick repairs.” – Millie, Coach
“Wrap bulky clothes in small portable clothes line to save space and so you can wash your smalls overnight” – Millie, Coach
The devil is in the details when it comes to packing!
“Split the load between the group. Arrange to bring one bottle of shampoo, one bottle of toothpaste etc. If not, decant larger bottles into smaller ones so you only have what you need.” – Bella, Content Marketing
“Don’t bring too much ‘just in case’ stuff. You want all the safety stuff covered, but leave the spare pair of gloves and 17 pairs of undies at home.” – Bella, Content Marketing
4. Zip lock bags are your bestie
“Bring spare zip lock bags for a variety of storage purposes: treats, left-overs, used and unused tampons (not in the same bag, of course!), rubbish, loo paper and phone storage in case of rain.” – Di, Founder and Chief Adventure Chick
You'll be wanting your zip-lock bag when taking wet weather shots on your phone!
Also, you can pee in them. True story.
5. Take care of your feet
Repeat after me: BLISTERS ARE PREVENTABLE.
Many people think blisters are an inevitable by-product of a long hike, but this is totally not the case! Blisters might seem like a small thing, but they can really prevent you from enjoying your trek. In fact, they can be torture, making walking completely unbearable. Prevention is better than cure, and with the right foot care, socks and shoes, they are totally preventable.
Here are our top blister prevention tips.
“If you have wet sandy feet, use talc powder to get sticky sand off.” – Kelly, Wild Women Coach
“Use fixomull to tape over rough skin or old blisters to prevent rubbing and causing more blisters.” – Kelly, Wild Women Coach
“Blisters are caused by repeated rubbing, so you want to get to those rubbing spots and lubricate them to stop them forming a blister. Coat your feet in Vaseline, Paw Paw or Everything Balm before you start your trek. If you feel a hot spot – basically warmness/rubbing on your foot – STOP immediately and tend to it. Add more Vaseline or some ‘foot fleece’ to the hot spot, or cover with a Compeed blister band aid. They’re expensive, but they’re worth it.” – Bella, Content Marketing
6. Buy quality gear
Gear is great, but when you’re starting out it’s better to go slow and get the good stuff than buy it all at once on the cheap. Wait until you need something, and then do the research to find out which brands are the best.
“The first thing you’ll need is shoes, and they are super important. From there, you might look at a backpack, some poles, and some clothes you like to walk in. I’ve hiked all over the world and I still wear my Nike runners and Lululemon yoga pants most of the time, because I think they’re the comfiest. You don’t need special hiking shorts or shoes… unless you love them!” - Bella
If it's a short hike, don't make it complicated. All you need is shoes.
However, unlike normal clothes and accessories, hiking gear is about safety. Your undergarments, head torch and water bladder could be the difference between life and death. We don’t say that to scare you, but rather to remind you that picking one up on sale at a supermarket isn’t going to cut it for proper adventures. But take it slow. Start with the shoes, and go from there.
7. Enjoy the journey
That’s what it’s all about! You’re there to challenge yourself, but mostly to have a great time. Don’t forget to take moments to reflect and appreciate where you are and the beauty of earth.
“Most important: don’t forget to look up every now and then! And sideways, out to the horizon and back where you’ve hiked from. And BREATHE. Deeply. Engage all the senses to take in the sights, sounds, and smells. This is a HUGE part of why I love walking and trekking. And it’s easy to miss when you get focused on the destination or on just putting one foot in front of the other. “ Sasha, Marketing Consultant
“Take your smile and sense of adventure.” Maryanne, Trek Training Coach