Keep calm, trek safe

Keep calm, trek safe

A pleasure trip turned into a tragedy for a couple from Hassan on May 1. Enjoying the view from Nandi Hills, the wife accidentally slipped and fell to her death from the cliff.

The husband tried to save her but he too fell off. However, he was rescued later.

Danger can strike anytime and this is what one needs to be prepared for, point out adventure enthusiasts. Anirudh Kulkarni, an avid trekker who goes on solo and group trips, says that it is necessary to study the topography of a place before heading out, through maps, Google maps and information from localities.

“One should learn to gauge situations based on practical estimates. One should learn some primitive practices of assessing the situation, like estimating directions without a compass by making a compass using a stitching needle float on water or knowing that no branch thinner than your thigh will be able to bear your weight while climbing a tree,” he details. 

He adds that while trekking in groups, it is safer to trek in a line formation, keeping at least six feet distance from each other. This is so that if one person falls, a chain reaction doesn’t occur. “Of other important things to consider, do not compromise on gear. Shoes are important for the spine, while trekking without appropriate goggles in the snow can cause snow blindness,” he says.

On daring selfies and catching the first sight of a place, he says, “Resist the urge to try stunts, because you’re at an unprotected environment and help could be at least a day away. Talk less, observe more as you could miss danger lurking around.”

Karthik Samprathi, a photographer, naturalist and outbound trip instructor, says that the dynamics of travelling solo and in groups are different.

“Always take permissions/assistance from Forest Department, who will guide one about the go about of the place. Places which are too hot like Dandeli or Uttar Kannada region require permissions and precautions to be taken,” he says.

Awareness about basic first aid is ideal. “This would help address a snake, tick or leech bite. There are many organisations which host such courses. One should also be aware of the nearest hospital when on a trip. When travelling in a group, there should be a first aid certified instructor in the group,” he adds.

When they reach high peaks, people tend to get adventurous. “Always remember that when you are travelling in a group or with someone, doing challenging tasks inspires others to do crazier things. One needs to know where to do draw the line,” he adds. 

Mala Chandrashekar, co-founder of Mystic Wild Pvt Ltd, who holds treks with groups and also travels alone, says that there are many rules of the wild.

“Look out for the weather conditions especially when going for a trek. Understand the route, the wildlife and signs of altitude sickness which can happen to each of us,” she explains.

Mala observes that many believe that hitting the gym makes them fit for any terrain or climatic conditions.

“This is not true. Nature is unpredictable and this is why one needs a thorough understanding of the landscaping. Accidents often happen at altitudes; depending on the time of the day, humidity and marsh can affect movement, peaks can be slippery,” she says.

If an untoward incident happens, make sure you are safe first, she says. “Get a good foothold or higher ground first. Carry a whistle and try to get other people’s attention. While trying to push a rope down for help, keep talking to the person in danger and try to understand the altitude difference. If you are travelling with a forest guard/tourist guide, ask them to immediately connect to the base camp,” says Mala.

Keep your impulse aside

“I always tell people on a trek that a sunrise can wait but impulsive decisions can take a life.”
MALA CHANDRASHEKAR, Co-founder of Mystic Wild Pvt Ltd.

Pack and dress right

Carry your DSLR/mobile phone around your neck.
Pack light
Wear the right shoes and socks

What to do and not do during a trek?

Always carry a first-aid box
Make sure a campfire is cold and wet before vacating a campsite.
Stay hydrated
Every group must have an experienced trekker, especially in the end to make sure
nobody is left behind.
Have a sports whistle, a torch and a pocket mirror, which can be used to signal or send out distress calls.

When in forests, one should not eat fruits that one is not sure are edible. Some are toxic.
Be vigilant. Look for wild animals and keep a safe distance. Respect their space.
Smoking and drinking on a trek is very unsafe. Cigarettes can easily start a forest fire.