I didn’t plan on this trip. The trip intended for me to be included. The universe’s grand design ensured the rest.
I was blissfully unaware of what the trek would encompass, except the inkling that it would be physically taxing. Towards this cause, I started to build on my cardio training with a basic 2-3km run every day and pushed on some strength training.
If I could take a peek two weeks in the future and see to what extent my body would be pushed, I would shake my head at that feeble attempt. All that kicking and lunging, running and ab-work couldn’t have possibly prepared me for what lay ahead. But I can’t just time travel yet, and that’s probably a good thing.
Preparing for my first official trek also involved copious amounts of shopping – the very word that causes much distress to my sanity. Having to buy things for possible uses is my least favourite way of whiling time. But shivering to death is also my least favourite way to die. So one must take precedent over the other.
I made my way to Decathlon, searching for enlightenment and hopefully some gear for this expedition I was so destined for. The staff guided me through a maze of possible choices across clothing, shoes, accessories and what-if’s. Here’s a list of what my shopping included:
Two hours later and a lot of money bills lighter, I felt like I had just enough to live through the week in the wilderness. I stopped myself from buying a new backpack, making a solemn promise to buy one if I ever trek again. Somewhere, I had started to doubt if this would be my calling after all. For someone who’s idea of adventure so far has been to stay in hostels around Europe, this might just be a little too real for comfort.
I wore my trekking shoes everyday for a week before the designated day of departure, preparing my feet for any possible shoe bites. I forgot, or was just never reminded, that nowhere in the mountains are the roads as smooth as the ones I am gliding on, and I really ought to be walking on 45 degree inclines to feel the capacity of the shoes. But one must excuse the innocence of a little woman who is trying hard to prepare for an adventure, for at least she tries.
A big part of my preparation was obsessively searching for how to keep myself clean and hygienic during the week, with only tents to my personal disposal. Suggestions like mega-sized wet wipes, soaping with towels and dry brushing didn’t seem like an ideal way for me to live with my own self. I feared bears would want to eat me only because I haven’t lived up to a certain hygiene standard. I also worried about being ecologically responsible and not use/discard any products that would make mother nature get back at me with vengeance. When you’re in the mountains, nature can avenge itself in very convenient ways.
The toiletries that accompanied me consisted of:
I purposefully kept away from researching too much on the itinerary of the trek. I wanted it to be a very organic experience, something that presents itself to me instead of me knowing everything beforehand.
Deciding what camera to carry was a moral conflict of its own. As much as I ached to carry the DSLR, I knew of how burdensome that commitment becomes when you’re already carrying enough weight around. So in the name of sanity, I switched last minute to the recently acquired Sony WX500 – a point and shoot camera. I felt like I was cheating on the Nikon, not to mention my own artistic sensibilities, but my morality only extends so far before practicality holds fort. I also carried my phone, and figured once the battery on the Sony runs out, the iPhone 7 should take cover. Given I would have no way of charging my devices for the next full week, it was a measured decision.
The most important element of preparation was figuring not just what to put in the backpack but also how. Once I had everything I needed for the week, I needed to figure the exact placement of the various belongings and their individual packaging. I created sets for 7 days within individual zip-lock bags. Each set consisted of a fresh t-shirt, underwear and socks.
This is how I layered my backpack:
Finally, I took a deep breath and made a silent prayer to the greater beings to bring me back alive. Or make the view worth the fall. And this is when I left for the airport, completely oblivious to what could possibly lay ahead.