Thursday, 21 January 2016

Tips & Tricks for Monsoon Trekking in India

The magical romance of monsoon with Mumbai has never been a deterrent to the trekking enthusiasts who take on the challenge to climb the slippery slopes of Western Ghats. Our adventure loving guest author Ankit K. J. shares some useful advice and handy tips on monsoon trekking preparedness from his own experiences. So, let's take the plunge to monsoon trekking!

Mumbai is a city with a hyperactive soul, they say. She does not sleep. Nor do the famous Mumbai rains stop her. It’s the time of the year where nature tries it’s best to dampen the spirit but fails miserably.

Monsoon is also the season when the otherwise dry Western Ghats turn lush green! The valleys surrounding the metropolis come alive with people flocking to the trails to take on the challenge of climbing slippery slopes only to rappel down a waterfall! However one thing people do not flock to is trekking preparedness. I had previously written a detailed post on trekking tips for beginners after I saw a lot of Indians not prepared for the trail - saves a lot of pain and hassle if you know the little details.

This post is about what to carry and a few tips that came in handy to me. A few essentials to carry on a monsoon trek in India!
Streams while trekking | Image source
1. Headphones/Earphones: If you are planning to do your travelling in a bus (which is usually the case if you want to reach the base where you begin a trek) and are the quiet, contemplative type, never forget to carry a decent pair of noise cancelling headphones. You'll lose less sleep and be fresh for your trek. They also have the secondary advantage of being able to play music!

2. A good pair of water shoes or sandals: The thing is that there are innumerable little streams to cross and taking shoes off and putting them on again is quite frustrating to both you and the rest of the group (who've already prepared for this eventuality). Look for shoes with a nice grip (rubber is preferable, since it slips less). Also, if possible, go for the shoes that look like an unholy (pun alert!) cross between a shoe and a sandal. These will have holes in them. To those with a sense of humour, they may also look like shoes in various stages of incompletion. Don't worry. They are designed to let the water out and dry quickly. Choose the ones that cover a maximum area of your exposed feet (so that the jungle mosquitoes have to work just a little harder). If not these, sandals always work best. Do not wear flip flops though, as they may result in your ankles twisting on rocky paths causing injuries!
Also, on a related note: do not wear these with socks or stockings.

Note: Shoes like these are what you are looking for
Waterfall on the way | Image source

3.  Mosquito repellent:Self-explanatory. Forget this at your own risk. Alternatively, you may also want to wear a jacket and full length pants. There are sprays and cream that one can use. If not, there are certain hacks around getting rid of those blood-sucking tiny monsters. Usage of sage leaves in the campfire, for example, also drives them away, leaving behind a pleasant aroma around the camp.

4. Layered Clothing: This is not as obvious as it sounds. Carry a t-shirt, track-pants, an extra pair of socks and a jacket. A cap is also helpful when it’s raining with a balaclava to cover the head. And carry a few layers – you can take them off if it’s hot and put more on if it gets chilly. You can never predict the weather and the rains!

And make sure they are comfortable. As a general rule of thumb, whatever suits you while running, works here. The more waterproof your possessions are, the more comfortable you'll be at the end of the day! Try stuffing it in a polythene bag before you pack them in a bag to keep them water tight! 

5. A bagpack: To carry your precious items. Find a water prof one if possible, but as described above, lining it with polythene can also do the trick. Make sure it isn't too heavy though. Also, carrying a poncho will also help in the rains.

6. Water & Sugar: Water - About 2 litres per person. Food: High energy stuff –Nuts, biscuits and granola bars. Glucose packs also help. The idea is to be prepared. You cannot trust the water on the trail, even if it looks sparkling clean. Animal/bird droppings nearby can easily pollute the water. And you do not want to become dehydrated with no water in the jungle! Light snacks do not take up space and provide much needed energy during crunch times. 

7.A Camera/Phone :So that you can take pics and call for help! And wondering how to use the phone in the rains? Seal it in a thin transparent plastic bag! Thank me later.

8. Towels: This becomes more important during monsoon trekking. Carrying light, quick drying towels help immensely. This may be the sole deciding factor on whether you get a cold after the trek or not.

9. Flashlight: A small hand-cranked flashlight should do the job. This is important especially in the rains, as it tends to get dark early. You do want to lose your way while camping and trekking. If you still manage to do so though, here is a helpful post on what to do if lost on the trail!
Base Villages before Trekking | Image source

Enjoy your treks! Safety first!

About the Author: Hi, I am Ankit. I love adventures and the outdoors and am the go-to guy if you need a sparring partner in adventures or sports :) I write about my travels on AlienAdv with a mission to inspire thousands to get off the couch and get going on lifetime experiences. I share my own travel stories (in the South East Asia and internationally) and my best tips and advice on issues like road-trips, scuba-diving nuggets, surfing, sailing and paragliding. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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