A lot of information is available on the internet about where to trek, but unfortunately, there’s very little information about how to trek.
I began working with Indiahikes as a Green Trails in the Himalayas in 2019. This gave me an opportunity to interact with our trekkers. I was able to see firsthand, the impact of responsible trekkers on the slopes, and the unfortunate impact of irresponsible trekkers on the slope.
I also observed certain thoughts and behaviours of trekkers. They were all different from each other, but one thing was for sure. Every single one of them showed traits of either responsible trekkers or irresponsible trekkers.
Take a moment and think of this. Are you a responsible trekker or an irresponsible trekker?
I’m sure you are thinking you definitely are not an irresponsible trekker.
But what does it mean to be a responsible trekker?
I have listed down 5 key traits I’ve observed in responsible trekkers. By the end of my list, if you still feel you are a responsible trekker, I’ll be glad if you could try and make more trekkers like you.
┃A responsible trekker is well-prepared.
Working as a Trek Coordinator I’ve observed that the best of trekkers read up about the trek, and do their own research as well. For a responsible trekker, preparation doesn’t end when they sign up for the trek, in fact, it begins there.
A responsible trekker reads all the Trek Preparation Kit emails. Another thing I’ve noticed is that they ask questions on the Whatsapp group, and they seek out information. They don’t sit back and wait for things to happen.
Responsible trekkers work on their fitness. They make sure that they have ticked off every last item on the packing list. They plan and prepare in advance.
┃A responsible trekker is mindful of the waste they generate.
This is one quality of a responsible trekker that I hold very close to my heart. A responsible trekker is mindful of the waste they generate. And to take this a step further, not just the waste they generate during their trek, but also of the waste they generate when they are back home.
A responsible trekker, who has read our Trek Preparation Kit emails, knows that at Indiahikes we have a mission. And every trekker must be on this mission. A mission to leave the mountains in a better condition than we found them.
So a responsible trekker does not carry packaged items. For example – chocolates, namkeen packets, biscuits, are all a big NO to them. Instead, they carry fruits – bananas, dry fruits, peanuts, jaggery etc. Further, they do not litter the trails.
This is just step one. To take this further, they avoid throwing even biodegradable waste like banana or orange peels, apple stalks, and other fruit remains on the trails. They know that a banana peel they throw today could remain there for up to a year.
┃A responsible trekker takes the effort to care for others.
A responsible trekker is caring. They listen to the Trek Leaders and help their trek mates.
This often means motivating their trek mates. Our Trek Leaders tell me that even one helpful trekker can benefit the entire batch. They also show care and compassion to their trek mates. Further, they maintain good tent etiquette.
And most importantly, they encourage others to be responsible trekkers as well. They set the example with their actions.
┃A responsible trekker respects the Trek Leader and the rest of the team.
A responsible trekker understands the depth with which a trek leader takes safety calls on treks, instructions such as wake up timings, turn-around time on summit day, or sending a trekker down due to medical reasons. A responsible trekker listens to the reason behind such calls and respects them. Responsible trekkers are as humble with the local guides, kitchen team and Trek Leaders as they are with their loved ones.
On a trek, the Trek Leader’s word is final. And responsible trekkers respect this.
Trek Leaders often tell me that one of the biggest challenges on the trek is leading a batch when trekkers don’t listen to them. And I have noticed this firsthand on my treks as well.
Personally, when I am on the trek, I always keep the Trek Leader in the loop. Whether it is a small muscle pain I have or something interesting I noticed on the trail.
┃A responsible trekker takes back learnings from the trek.
For a responsible trekker, the trek is not just a week-long trek. It is a life-long journey. They make an effort to apply what they have learnt during the trek in their daily life.
They continue to follow their fitness routine and promote active fitness as well. They consciously reduce the waste they generate. They also try to spread this awareness among the people around them.
At Indiahikes, we believe that trekking is not just a physical conquest. It is a journey of the mind, body, and spirit. And a responsible trekker is humble enough to learn from this experience.
These are just five traits of a responsible trekker that I’ve observed. I would like you to reflect on your treks and see if you have been a responsible trekker. In the comments below, tell us about a responsible thing you did on your last trek, or if any of your trek mates stood out for being responsible. I would love to hear from you.