Hiking is an outdoor sport activity based on walking in the mountain area for the purpose of study or recreation, along bumpy paths that typically not traveled with conventional means of transport.
Paths, long-distance paths, high roads, mule tracks, bridleways are just some of the routes where hiking is possible.
Hiking in the English language referred to as trekking or hiking with the first term deriving from the English verb to trek, which means to walk slowly or even make a long journey, while the second comes from the English verb to hike, which means to walk.
Generally, the excursion takes place in a mountain environment or in any case in a natural environment, and accompanied by naturalistic activities such as bird watching, the observation of botanical species or even the visit of monuments or natural phenomena along the route.
A very long hike that tends to cross a mountain range or a mountain group, called a traverse.
The seriously motivated hiker must respect the environment he crosses, avoid making noise, respect the paths, do not tamper with the signs, do not leave waste (which can be compacted and transported to a trash can, or better still in a built-up area. at the bottom of the valley).
Do not capture protected botanical species or harass wild animals, light fires only in a suitable place and with adequate competence, extinguish it carefully before departure, do not throw away cigarette butts or paper handkerchiefs. It is a tradition among hikers to greet each other when you meet along a path, as well as, as far as possible, to help other hikers in difficulty.
To avoid even serious problems, such as loss or being involved in a sudden storm, it is necessary to plan several elements:
- The route, the altitude profile, the overall height difference, the nature of the ground, the orientation points;
- The expected duration, the stages, the refuges;
- The expected meteorological conditions;
- Clothing and in particular footwear;
- The equipment (minimum accessories, backpacks, tents, camp stoves and dishes, etc.);
- Supplies of water and food.
Clothing naturally linked to the season, but any worsening weather conditions must be taken into account.
Waterproof clothing always to be included and in case of an emergency. Preferably, use boots suitable for the type of terrain you will be tackling and specific socks for hiking (generally without seams and with differentiated structure for greater ease).
As for the equipment, this must include all the essential objects for orientation and useful accessories in case of difficulty.
In particular (especially if not accompanied by qualified guides or local expert hikers) for any excursion, it is advisable to bring with you a series of useful accessories, even if not all essential:
- A detailed geographical map of the place to be explored, better a military or CAI map (possibly at least 1: 25,000 scale);
- A compass and optionally (not alternatively) a GPS receiver;
- A utility knife (Swiss knife type);
- An isothermal blanket;
- A first aid kit;
- A supply of water (drink regularly to avoid losing mineral salts) and energy supplies (e.g. whole meal and / or diet biscuits, but also canned food). Chocolate, although very popular among practitioners, is not indicated as it is composed almost entirely of fats, which are difficult and slow to assimilate. Much better to use simple sugars such as fructose (but not sucrose, which causes glycemic peaks), or maltodextrins;
- Sunscreen (essential) with UV protection factor appropriate to the altitude and hours of walking;
- A whistle (useful for distress signals);
- A flashlight or headlamp (useful when the sunset surprises you);
- Gloves and cap (for any temperature drops even in summer)
- A mobile phone (check signal coverage according to the location) that is well charged (batteries and telephone credit). Two Walkie-talkies are also useful to keep the group of hikers compact (one in the lead and one in the queue);
- Clothing, possibly “layered” suitable for the season and the weather;
- The helmet (in particular in the high mountains and near the rocky walls);
- Hiking sticks or poles that use the propulsive force of the upper limbs to facilitate progress on the path, lowering the sense of fatigue and also the risk of slipping or falling;
- Cord (5 meters), for hanging and other uses (bindings, splinting, shoulder straps, etc.).
- Certified sunglasses (protection 4 is essential when hiking on snow or ice);
For multi-day excursions, depending on your needs, we recommended to add:
- Sleeping bag (suitable for the season, based on expected temperatures);
- The sheet bag (compulsory in many shelters);
- Cloth for shelter or;
- Tent and camp stove;
In addition to the minimum equipment:
- In the stretches on the glacier it is mandatory to use crampons and ice axes, and in the presence of crevasses it is advisable to roped off;
- Along the “via ferratas” it is mandatory to use a harness, helmet, “via ferrata” set (consisting of a heat sink, two carabiners and a suitably prepared piece of rope), and fairly stiff boots and gloves that do not prevent the use of carabiners are recommended (similar to those of cyclists);
- if there is a passing trough streams or the crossing of particularly exposed or dangerous points, it is advisable for the group to bring with them a length of rope of at least twenty meters.