by Angela della Ventura
Interview with Michele Palomba
Trekking is certainly one of the best sports you can practice in Massa Lubrense. It is not uncommon to find people that, although wishing to take on trekking, always postpone it, because they do not know where to start. This is exactly why we interviewed an expert in this field, Michele Palomba, who gave us 10 useful tips to help you enjoy this wonderful activity.
1. Things you should always carry
Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to carry many things, which are often bulky. You just need a few essentials, which can easily be stowed in a small backpack, as walking with both hands free will help improve balance and tackle steep trails. The essentials are:
- a water bottle or canteen;
- some snacks;
- cap or hat to protect yourself from sun rays:
- change of dry clothes, in case you get wet due to bad weather or need to change after sweating too much (socks are utterly important);
- warm outfit;
- headlamp, which is particularly useful in wintertime, as the sun sets early;
- fully charged phone;
- small first aid kit;
- pair of trekking poles.
2. Things to include in your first aid kit
First of all, it is very important to always carry any type of prescribed drug with you; if you have allergies, always include antihistamines. Never give anyone the medications you have been prescribed, especially if that person has never taken that type of medication before. This is always good practice, but it is especially important when hiking.
In the actual first aid kit, which should be stored in an airtight bag, you should include a small number of things, which can still help you treat any minor injuries you may suffer while trekking:
- plasters of different sizes used to treat abrasions;
- antiseptic, which must explicitly be of the type that can be used on damaged skin;
- gauzes and medical tape;
- Tweezers, which can help you to pull out splinters from wounds;
You may of course include other types of medical devices, but you should only do so if you’re qualified enough to use them.
3. Suitable clothing
A simple but very useful advice is to dress with layered clothing using clothes that aren’t particularly warm or heavy when worn on their own, but, at the same time, when worn layered can give you comfort while trekking.
Starting from the innermost layer, depending on season, you should either wear a t-shirt or a thermal long-sleeved shirt; continuing on, fleece clothing can always be useful to protect both from wind and unexpected cold in the shaded areas. Always depending on season, another layer can consist of either a duvet in winter or an anorak during spring or summer, which you can easily put on or take off as needed.
Speaking of fabrics, it is best to avoid denim and plush fabric, because they take a lot of time to dry out in case you get wet when crossing a brook or due to unexpected rain. Breathable fabrics, on the other hand, are highly recommended, being fresh, durable, with quick drying properties. They are suitable for any type of sport.
4. Suitable shoes
Good shoes are essential for any type of hiking, even though many underestimate their importance.
It is crucial to always wear shoes that are suitable for this kind of activity, even when walking on seemingly easy trails, because shoes will always help you walk better.
New shoes may feel hard at first, but their hardness is intentional, as it helps sustaining your body while walking; sneakers or other common types of shoes, on the other hand, are too weak and do not provide good balance, even if they might feel more comfortable at first.
Hiking shoes also feature a sculpted sole, which allows for good grip on any type of terrain.
An useful advice, especially for beginners, is to use high boots, even if they might seem useless or overly expensive; these boots are specifically designed to protect the wearer against injury, as they sustain your ankle better than low boots do, by wrapping perfectly around it.
5. How to pick a path to suit your needs
There are several ways to pick a path that will suit your needs: you can either rely on printed guides or on guides available on the internet. You can also consider asking someone who is more experienced, such as a friend, a qualified guide or the local tourist office. One should avoid relying on websites where any user can upload tracks, since you won’t be able to judge trail conditions and the amount of experience needed to take a given path. Another tip would be not to follow the crowd, avoiding to pick a path only because, according to others, it is easier or just because many people pick it.
6. How to prepare
Taking a basic trekking course can be really useful to become familiar with technical terms, to learn how to judge properly the type of terrain you will walk on and its elevation gain; this will in turn allow you to pick a path that, whille offering great landscapes, will still match your physical abilities. This is crucial, as it will guarantee that an otherwise wonderful experience doesn’t turn into something unpleasant.
Speaking of physical preparation, beginners can take walks to train their body to cross steep terrain, but those who cannot exercise daily could simply start using the stairs instead of the lift anytime they can.
7. How to reliably check the weather forecast
Weather is an higly discussed topic and not an easy one to cover. The plethora of smartphone apps are a good way to get an overview of the situation. On the other hand, always keep in mind that in the open air, and especially in the mountains, weather can and will change suddenly and unexpectedely. On mountain peaks it is highly likely for individual thunderstorms to occur, and this is impossible to predict.
Trekking in the rain isn’t necessarily unpleasant, though, even if it might seem scary at first; with all the necessary precautions it can be an unique and suggestive experience.
8. How to trek with children
Hiking in contact with nature is great for children too. In this case, as can be expected, one should exercise caution, especially with lively and curious children. A good tip is to prefer spring or summer time, when weather will usually be mild, but you should also pick easy, well shaded trails to avoid fatigue, injuries or heat strokes. You can turn hiking into a game, where children will feel like they are little explorers. This will surely make them prone to repeat the experience and, hopefully, teach them to love nature and hiking
9. Where to find adventure companions
Hikes organised by qualified guides are the best way to begin if you’re alone, since you’re sure to receive good tips on choosing equipment and on picking paths. Hikes organised by local tourist offices are also very useful to get acquainted with other people experienced in trekking. Tourist hikes are often designed to provide knowledge of the area, or sometimes to explore an area: because of this they are usually easy to undertake, but exciting nonetheless.
10. Tips about blogs or hiking webpages
Michele’s webpage, “hikeandseek“, will help you to fully immerse in the world of hiking. Following local webpages based on the area you want to go for a hike in will also help: this includes the website of the municipality and that of the local tourist office. One can often find webpages specific to a certain mountain range or area: these can be relied upon to get updated information about trail conditions. Rockslides and areas with high vegetation are also usually reported.
So, as we have seen, trekking is a sport for everyone, young and old, experts or beginners, enjoyable and, above all, healthy.
Are you ready to go for a hike with us along Massa Lubrense’s best trails?
Qualified hike guide and collaborato of Massa Lubrense tourist office