For a Trekker, Monsoons are no excuse and there is a different kind of joy in enjoying the beautiful sceneries and lush grass with water droplets accumulated on them. Rain just makes even the normal places look beautiful. You can enjoy the mountains and nature without the crowds, there’s no worrying about lodges running out of rooms, swollen riverbeds make for some adventurous river crossings and the monsoon trekker can marvel at the distinct summer fashion of the Himalayas – hills upon hills of lush emerald green hues.
The key to a great monsoon trekking experience is being prepared. Being prepared means taking all the necessary measures to avoid any discomfort on the trek.
If you think wet trekking could be a good fit for you, it’s wise to be prepared for the elements. Before heading into the hills for some monsoon trekking this summer pick up some pro tips on facing the rainy season in the Himalayas. Monsoon requires a lot of care and thus We present a list of Tips for monsoon trekking that every trekker who wishes to go on a Monsoon Trek should know.
Here We present 12 safety Tips for Monsoon Trekking
Make a checklist
The first thing you do while going a trek is to make a checklist of things you ought to carry during the trip. This will help you be prepared to face the worst of the conditions while trekking. This list should certainly include things like a torch, extra pair of batteries, sticky tape, sewing kit, glue, medicines, first-aid kit, toiletries, raincoat, food and water, among many others
Find out whether there will be heavy downpours; It is not safe for you to hike in such conditions. Go for it only when the climate is stable. In the Himalayan regions, monsoon trekking is even more difficult because landslides are much frequent. So check the weather forecast on multiple sites and not just one.
Get an early start
Start your trek earlier in the mornings and make your days shorter in wetter areas as it typically rains more in the afternoons than in the mornings.
Pack Smart This is the most common rule for any tour. Especially for trekking expeditions, it is a must to carry light luggage. So carry only the necessary things.
Bring quick-dry socks and t-shirts and breathable waterproof gear. For heavy and long showers in the peak of the monsoon, a waterproof jacket and pants are essential. While not the most fashionable of solutions, we personally swear by the poncho in lighter and intermittent showers as it can easily go over yourself and your pack and be put on in a flash. Other seasoned trekkers prefer the umbrella as you avoid having to put on an additional layer to stay dry and you can use the umbrella as a handy walking stick once the rain lets up.
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Waterproof your Pack
A waterproof backpack is the best option for keeping your gear dry, but it can be expensive. A cheaper solution is buying a cover for your backpack or simply packing your wet-sensitive gear in dry bags, garbage bags, or Ziplocks. Additional bags for separating your wet clothes from the rest of your kit is a worthwhile idea too. There are also available waterproof phone bags, that allow you to use your phone in rain. So this is another good buy for monsoon treks.
Carry a portable water filter
Staying hydrated on the trek is important and drinking clean water even more. Due to rains, there is a chance that the water streams get muddled with dirt and sludge which trickle down with the rain. So a clean, potable water source may get difficult to find.
Therefore, you must carry a small portable water filter with you in monsoons. This will avoid situations like water scarcity on the trek and prevent you from consuming water from foul sources.
Respect Nature and Local Knowledge
Heavy rains are known to cause landslides in the Himalayas so if you are trekking in an unknown territory it’s recommended to hire a local guide. Generally, locals will avoid being outdoors in the heaviest of downpours if they are in landslide-prone areas. If you are unsure it’s best to observe and do what the locals do. If they are not out or they are taking precautions on certain trails, you should follow suit.
Follow existing trails
Through changing times, there are some trekking trails that become permanent. Follow them. Its better than losing your way. Else, leave behind a trail, you could make markings on a tree, but this isn’t always reliable, as the rains could wash away the chalk. Choose your equipment and trail wisely!
Protect yourself from bugs and insects
While fellow trekkers are scarce during monsoon time, mosquitos and leeches are not. These pesky travel companions like warm and wet environments, so take insect repellents for mosquitos (in the lowlands) and a solid combat plan for leeches in the mountains.
Leeches are quite skilled at wiggling through trainers, socks, and even the toughest hiking boot. To protect yourself from an attack you can spray insect repellent on your socks and avoid resting on rocks or leaning on trees that haven’t been in direct sunlight. If you do get mistaken for lunch don’t try to pull the leach off as it will bleed quite profusely and leave a little bump. Instead, you can encourage the leech to detach by rubbing table salt on it. Or do what the locals do and sprinkle Szechuan pepper on your shoes to ward off leeches. Szechuan pepper, also known as Himalayan fireberry or Timur in Nepali, can be found in grocery stores or markets.
Try to keep yourself dry
You are free to enjoy the rain but try keeping yourself dry most of the time to avoid falling sick. There are only so many rain waterproof trekking boots and gaiters can take. If you are on a longer trek your feet will inevitably get wet sooner or later. Opting for a light and breathable trail running shoe or a Gore-Tex lightweight shoe will improve your grip on wet and slippery surfaces, dry quicker between downpours, and be easier on your legs.
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Make sure your tent is waterproof & zipped up
Tents are generally made with waterproof material. Even then make sure your tent is sturdy enough to face rain showers and wind. The base of the tent should be able to stand hundreds of liters of flowing currents of water. Don’t let water get inside the tent and the tent should be zipped up all the time.
if you’re trekking in tropical regions, you must keep your tent clear of snakes and leeches. In fact, we would recommend doing a check of all the nooks and corners of your tent before getting in for the night, to make sure there are no unknown guests in there.
Keep a flexible schedule
During monsoon roadblocks, or bad weather situations are common. It is better to have a flexible schedule to avoid any inconvenience. Wait, let the situation clear off and then go ahead.
A few bonus tips if you’re trekking on your own
- Don’t camp near areas prone to flooding. Avoid camping right on the banks of rivers, or close to gullys. Choose a wide, flat space where you can pitch your tent safely, without fear of flooding.
- Cross rivers before 10 am. Rivers tend to swell as the day passes. They are at their calmest early in the morning. So plan your trek in such a way that you cross rivers early in the morning.
- Stay put in whiteouts. I’ve seen that human instinct makes trekkers believe they can find their way in whiteouts. But it’s best to stay put until you get some visibility.
- Take extra care of your electronic items and it is better to carry phones and GPS with a keypad instead of a touch screen. The touch screen doesn’t work when it is wet. So either uses keypad gadgets or carry microfibre rags with you.
- Even in rain, you have chances of getting a sunburn, so don’t forget to carry sunblock with you.
And that’s all. Stay safe while trekking during the monsoon and enjoy the trails. Monsoon is the best time to trek, with great temperature and landscapes at their greenest and freshest point. Just take good care.
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