Movement is relative. If I’m moving towards an object, it could very well be that the object is moving towards me. I need to get to a mountain or a mountain should come to me. Hehehe! A little bit of reflection here in a bid to justify the title. I’m yearning to reach some mountain top. But alas, the first quarter has really been very busy for me. Not that I’m complaining, but now the absence of the summit – any summit, is grinding me to powder.
Now that Easter break is coming, I’m thinking this could be the perfect time to escape city life and experience once again the exhilaration of country mountain air, buoyant on wild greenery. In a way, I should admire those that take time to plan to hike. You know, everything has to be right. They need to feel prepared. Every muscle must shake and quake at the right frequency. All the bones must be perfectly attenuated in grade A tendons. All pistons must fire in the right sequence. You get the drift.
While this is true for epic hikes, it is not necessary for a weekend getaway at your local hill, unless, if it has an active volcano at the top, or is known to be infested with venomous snakes that chase visitors on sight. In that case, then yes, perhaps take time to prepare your will, arrange your finances, say goodbye to your family, and then give it a go. Otherwise, it doesn’t take much to prepare for a hike. And guess what? What would work for a typical long walk, or a gym session, would also normally work for your hike.
So take for example, carrying water. You need to be hydrated at all times. Finding yourself in the wild, without any knowledge of local watering holes can cause a lot of discomfort on your part. In the extreme case, it could lead to injury, short term or long term, perhaps even permanent injury. But again, if this is just a weekend outing, it shouldn’t get to this point. So, forget about death or long term injury. Nevertheless, carry enough water with you. My style is to carry some with me, and keep a backup in the car. Should I lose my water bottle, and then have to trek back mile after mile to the base camp, at least, I should be able to get a swig once I reach the starting point.
Another point, is getting an energy snack. Now, you know it doesn’t always have to be something fancy like bars of chocolate or a packet of exotic sweets manufactured in a confectionary factory that happens to provide royal bites to national leaders around the world. No. A packet of groundnuts will do. Or a banana, if you don’t mind the possibility of fighting it out with monkeys once they see the yellow oblong treat in your hands. An energy snack can be anything you fancy that has carbs, or sugar in it. I’ve ever heard of someone carrying glucose powder to get a quick energy boost. Whatever your take, an energy snack must be somewhere near you.
Now what about a guide? If you know your terrain very well, and don’t intend to wander away from the beaten path, then possibly you just need to let someone know you will be wandering alone on your favourite hill. Otherwise, get a guide. And putting a time limit before someone gets concerned is also a prudent addition. So say, you tell your loved one that call the police, military, ministers of tourism and health if I don’t show up by 16:00 is not an exaggeration on your part. This is called taking an initiative, and must be pursued diligently each time you venture out into the wild. Oh! Put on the alert list your local mayor too. Mayors love speeches, and you need someone who can make a moving speech before deploying a searching party for you. Hopefully, they will not find you asleep on your favourite rock having eaten a whole bunch of bananas, leading to moments of tranquility, deep reflection, and subsequently and consequently the inevitable siesta.
What does this all mean to you? I think it says you don’t need much to prepare for a hike. You don’t need to walk for half a year in preparation. No. You don’t need to prepare to prepare – I’m speaking from experience, rather, observation. Just get your hiking clothes ready and venture out. And you are at liberty in interpreting what constitutes hiking clothes. Anything loose, comfortable on a pair of your favourite pair of sports shoes will do. And if you are living in this part of the world, you need something that would protect you from rains, sunshine, wind and dust. Okay. This shouldn’t put you in your deep preparation mood. Get into your walking gear, put on your hat, and get going.
With that in mind, you can see why I’m yearning for a weekend getaway. I have a choice of beautiful hills and mountains among Bunda, Ngala or Nkhoma in Lilongwe. Or Chongoni or Dedza in the adjoining Dedza district. There’s also another Ngala mountain in Dowa. These are surrounding areas from the Capital City of Malawi. Some mountain has to come to me. The only burning question is how many bananas am I taking with me?