Hiking is not just a physical activity, walking in the woods, it is much more than that, we could call it a lifestyle. In order to climb we don’t necessarily need to be a member of the Mountaineering Association, we don’t need fancy equipment or a lot of knowledge. Hiking is going out into nature, it is socializing, it improves mental and physical abilities. There are various reasons why people decide for hiking: socializing, healthy lifestyle, fitness improvement, challenge, research, photography, but all of them share a love of nature. Since ancient times, people have gone to the mountains to relax and find peace, inspiration and spiritualization, just like the Moses in the Bible and Muhammad in Koran.
Hiking is one of the best aerobic workout – walking uphill is harder than walking straight paths. Although hiking physically exhausts and tires our body, it also fills us with energy. Spending time in nature, in the mountains brings us peace, relaxation, fulfillment, connects us with nature. Of course, hiking has a positive effect on our health as well – it improves circulation and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart disease, stimulates lymphatic circulation and improves the immune system, improves the flexibility of the body, improves balance, cleanses the lungs and naturally encourages deep breathing, strengthens muscle mass, especially the legs and back, improves joint mobility, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, has a positive effect on osteoporosis and diabetes, reduces back pain. Climbing also has a positive psychological impact: develops resourcefulness, courage, perseverance, sacrifice, companionship, adventure, patriotism. By going in nature and moving away from the crowds and noise, we calm our minds and enter into a meditation, we sink deep into ourselves.
Hiking can be enjoyed by everyone – from the youngest to the oldest. It can be divided into tourism and leisure and serious high-mountain. Elderly people should consult a doctor before practicing hiking. Beginners should choose shorter and easier routes, keeping in mind the physical condition. Over time, we choose more demanding and longer paths. The younger people are recommended to start with 5 to 6 hours of walking, and the elderly 3 to 4 hours. Before going on a hike, it is necessary to get to know the paths which we are going to take and prepare everything necessary to stay in the mountains. It is not recommended to eat before hiking, especially heavy food that makes us sluggish. For hiking we need sturdy shoes or sneakers, with a special pad for hiking, solid socks, spare T-shirt, cap and protection against insects and the sun. Many people use hiking poles, but they are not necessary, although they ease movement. For hiking it is necessary to bring with us at least 2 to 3 liters of fluid for full-day stay in the countryside, a sufficient amount of food that is not too heavy, waterproof clothes, first aid kit, flashlight, matches or a lighter, compass, map, whistle, knife and a cell phone (it is useful to carry a spare battery or adapter).
During the hike we spend a lot of energy which should be compensated, so it is recommended to consume foods rich in carbohydrates that provide energy (chocolate, raisins, candies, glucose tablets, isotonic drinks or sweetened tea), greasy foods is useful because it provides heat in winter (keep in mind to ensure that food is fat and too heavy), proteins help the reconstruction of tissues, especially muscle (eggs, meat, milk,) minerals and vitamins are also very important (fruit), it is important to take some salty food because sweating body loses salt that must be recovered. In winter you need to dress in layers so you can remove layer after layer of clothing, depending on the temperature of the body. Before you start hiking, you should warm up exercising all the muscles and go slow for the first 20-30 minutes. It is advised to rest and eat a small meal every two hours, and drink water every half hour. There are not some special techniques for leisure hiking, but it is recommended to have hands bent at right angles at the elbows and more active than usual, the steps are smaller on mild ups and higher on steeper slopes. During the hiking and spending time outdoors, we meet different plants and animals, it is not advised to pick or eat plants for which we are not sure that they are edible.
In climbing there is a code of ethics which we should adhere to:
• do not leave anyone alone in the mountain; in case of an accident, you may bear moral and criminal responsibility.
• adjust walking pace to the weakest hiker in the group; advise him and offer him your help.
• in the mountain climbers greet one another in such a way that younger greet the elderly, men greet women, those who climb the one who comes down (symbolically acknowledging executed climb).
• when you meet the locals behave and be kind, keep in mind that their code of conduct is perhaps stricter than yours.
• repay to the locals for their service and food in an appropriate manner, taking account of their weaker financial status.
• taking the mountain trails clean stones and branches, fix signs and edge stones along the way.
• do not shout in the mountains, do not listen loud music, singing should be moderate and unobtrusively.
• do not submit a fire in a forest, make a stone fence around the fireplace, and before leaving damp down a fire.
don’t pick flowers, it is a sign of an egoism; picking a flower is killing it.
• don’t leave bins (empty bottles, cans, paper, plastic packaging) in the mountain, collect them and take with you into the valley.
• in case of an accident in the mountains, give up your plans and access the rescue.
• don’t brag yourself and your abilities, don’t compete in speed climbing, mountaineering is not a competitive sport, in mountains the strong should help the weaker ones.
• if there are enrollment books before, carefully leave the book and seal; don’t write tasteless remarks.
• honor protective regime in national parks, nature reserves and nature parks, follow the instructions made by forestry and security services personnel; don’t pick protected plants.
• according to the house rules in the home, there’s no smoking, especially in the dining halls and dormitories.
• don’t spill water or throw any waste into it.
• clean the mountain hut after use, secure firewood and leave excess cans of food for visitors before going.
• on arrival at the mountain present yourself to the janitor, respect his authority and be modest in requirements, before leaving greet him and give him information on the direction of your further travels.
• in the mountain hut respect the house rules, take off your shoes before entering the dormitories, don’t occupy more space than you need; priority is given to women, children, the elderly and exhausted people
• after 10 p.m. respect the peace at the home, don’t disturb the rest of tired hikers, honor the complete peace, do not disturb the rest of tired hikers, spare them your cheerful mood.