The area where Ana and I come from in Romania is surrounded by some of the country’s highest and most beautiful mountains, topped with glacier lakes, natural parks and the most authentic and kind hearted inhabitants. Yet in my almost 20 years spent growing up there, I never reached a peak or even set foot up on those mountains. I have set my skis on the slopes in wintertime, but never hiked, camped, slept, showered, cooked or spent more than a few hours in the mountains. But this summer I did it all, at once, during 3 days in Retezat National Park. It went perfectly well, despite the fact that 12 hours before departure, I still had no backpack, no socks, no food and no time to get it all by next morning. Or so I thought. Turns out, supermarkets in Romania are open round the clock, pizzeria owning friends have a backpack to spare and make home midnight deliveries and socks are overrated after all, aren’t they?Seems like I had it all figured out, got all the advice in the world from Ana, aka hiking veteran, followed it to the letter, and I was good to go. Nothing would surprise me or catch me unprepared up there. Well, if that were the case, the following list of things I know now but wished I had known before saying ‘yup, I’m ready, let’s do this!’ wouldn’t exist. So if you find yourself at the same level of hiking experience as me, or below (not sure if that’s possible, maybe if you live underground), read along to see even more things you should know before stepping a foot on that mountain.
- It’s gonna be colder than they say. They said I should have a sweater and a jacket, because it can get really cold. In July. But they didn’t say it would get THAT cold, that I would put on every piece of clothing I had with me and still freeze. That happened during the first night I spent in the tent. And the second.
- It’s gonna be hotter than they say. Thank God I had a sports bra, because the touch of a t’shirt would have killed me. That happened every day. So just pack for every season and every hemisphere you can think of. Simple.
- You need to pack lighter than light. Because no one is gonna carry it for you. Uphill. Some things you think you won’t survive without, but you’ll never use up there: sanitiser, mosquito spray, sunglasses, mirror, bandaids, binoculars, sunscreen, solar charger, and pretty much everything else that would indicate you’re a first world citizen. Just forget about it.
- The shoes you walk in, are everything! You’re whole existence, happiness or misery will depend on that one pair of boots. #investment
- Setting up a tent is rocket science. Make sure at least one of your crew members has done it before. Or has phone reception.
- You’re gonna be hungry at all times. There’s no such thing as too much food when you’re up there.
- It is sometimes possible that there is such thing as too many clothes, and you actually need only one set. But then again, thinking back to no. 1, I did get to wear all the clothes I brought with me. At once.
- It’s gonna be tougher than you imagine, climbing or descending those peaks, in the rain, with a backpack, without a gun to your head. So have a break, have a Kit Kat. And a Bounty. And a Lion White. Something sweet to look forward to.
- It’s gonna be easier then you imagine. Because you’re in a group of friends, you’re not racing or anything and people will wait for you to take that perfect picture. Every 5 minutes.
That’s it! That’s all you can do to have the perfect summer hiking trip. Let nature do the rest!