A long term trek might be up to 50 miles, and many reach altitudes of over 10,000 feet. These “high adventure trails” are not for just anyone. They require training for both leaders and scouts.
A lot of hard work, trekking for 4–6 days, and enduring to the end are rewarded by the grandeur of the natural beauty, being in and part of the wilderness.
Most of the training from this article comes from Hiking Aid 15 prepared by the Greater Los Angeles Council. I thank them.
All those on a long-term backpack trip must be physically fit. If it is a struggle to complete a hike and/or spend two days overnight camping, perhaps the high adventure trails are not for you. Those who choose this kind of trek, both leaders and scouts, should start a physical training program at least two months before departure.
It’s suggested to start planning as soon as current summer programs are over. Proper preparation is absolutely necessary to get the most enjoyment out of the hike.
You should only backpack with what’s adequate and sufficient for the actions and conditions of your trek. The desire to keep your pack light should not stop you from taking something which offers aid from the unexpected.
Lightweight tents to keep dry are priceless. Alternatively, you can use lightweight tarps and ground cloths. Try them out beforehand. The weight of the equipment plus clothing and food is ultimately limited by the carrying abilities of the participants. Cut corners where you can.
All equipment should be in good condition, and every participant must be trained in the equipment being taken: stoves, water filters, crampons, ice axes, climbing gear, etc. The safety of everyone might depend on it.
A last suggestion regarding equipment was surprising to me. Replace the down sleeping bag with one of the newer synthetic bags. I had not thought about how heavy a wet down bag can be, and it takes forever to dry. Down vests might be okay but only if you have appropriate rain gear.
Obviously, you need to take a couple of pairs of underwear and several changes of socks. Avoid cotton clothing. Cotton takes forever to dry when washed. Bring synthetic fiber clothing, a quick drying remedy.
Clothing should match conditions. Adequate rain gear and a wide brim hat for rain and sun protection for sunny days are both musts.
For a long-term trek, think fit, fit, fit when it comes to boots. When you buy boots, try then on with the socks you will be wearing. As you grow, wait to buy until close to trek time. A pound of footwear can feel like three pounds of extra weight to carry. A combo of synthetic and leather is recommended.
I hope you consider going on high adventure hikes. Many have patches for completion.
I will discuss food/water sources and purification in a future article.