10 tips for getting organized and (re)starting on the trails

10 tips for getting organized and (re)starting on the trails

Many people want to experience walking, but don’t dare to try it. Here are ten practical tips for getting (or getting back) on the move: addresses, equipment advice, suggested activities, itinerary ideas, resources for information, etc. An “à la carte” program, therefore, to be adapted according to your desires!

1. Train and have regular physical activity

  • If you’ve never hiked. It is better to train regularly a few months before departure, gradually increasing the duration of the walk (2 hours, then 3, then 4, and then a day). But above all, go carefully, without forcing. Try to find the right walking pace. These training sessions will also allow you to test your equipment (the ideal being, during the last training sessions, to walk with the backpack filled), and to “make” your shoes. Indeed, the golden rule for walkers is to never leave with new shoes!
  • If you’ve ever hiked. Training is not obligatory, but nevertheless recommended. Otherwise, you can gradually “get rid of the rust” on the ground, by planning a few “warming up” steps at the start!

2. Meet other walkers

Associations play an important role in preparing your walk. They are at your disposal to answer your questions about itineraries, accommodation, and some of them even organize meetings to learn how to pack your backpack. Preparing for this trip, which may seem like a mountain to some, is thus made much easier.

Which associations should you turn to to organize your walk?

  • For hiking trails. FFHiking with numerous hiking clubs in each town. Discover the map of 3,500 clubs, classified by department.
  • For pilgrimage routes. Around 80 jacquaire associations in France, and one for each other path. Their contact details are easily found on the Internet.

3. Participate in the proposed activities

  • FFHiking. Walks, and, for the most fragile or who want to start walking again after having been sedentary for a long time, clubs labeled “Rando-Santé”.
  • Pilgrim associations: walks, of course, but also meetings with former pilgrims, dinners, writing workshops, photo workshops, language courses (e.g.: Spanish for future pilgrims to Santiago), etc.

4. Equip yourself

Here are some criteria for choosing your basic equipment: shoes, backpack, hiking poles.

For Shoes:

  • Their width must be adapted to the width of your foot to avoid friction (and therefore blisters).
  • They must be comfortable, and therefore not too hard.
  • They should be quite light.
  • They must be high, to protect your ankles on uneven terrain.
  • Their soles must be notched, to adhere to the ground when going downhill.
  • The nail of the big toe should not touch the toe of the shoe.

For the size:

  • Add half a size, because the foot always swells during the hike (especially in width).
  • Try on the shoes with the hiking socks you have previously purchased.
  • Finally, it is advisable to provide “anti-shock” soles, which absorb the vibrations caused by the impact of the foot on the ground: they limit the risk of tendinitis, back pain, and other joint pain.

For the backpack:

  • Its weight (on average 1.8 kg for a 50 l bag).
  • Its comfort: it must have a sufficiently wide padded belt, and its shoulder straps must have load recall straps and a chest strap.
  • Its practical aspect: the side pockets, interior pockets and belt pockets facilitate the storage and accessibility of objects, especially while walking; If you are traveling with walking poles and taking a mattress, check that there are special straps for hanging them.
  • Ventilation of the back of the bag: some manufacturers have specially studied this part of the bag to prevent the hiker from having his back soaked after a few hours of walking.

vs) Hiking poles

  • Weight: choose carbon or zicral poles; There are also ultra-light walking poles that are foldable, but which are not as rigid as telescopic poles.
  • Height: choose according to your size.
  • The tip: tungsten, very strong.
  • Wrists: choose a material that prevents hand perspiration (avoid plastic).
  • The tightening system: check by trying it in the store.

5. Look for a co-walker if you don’t want to go alone

  • A member of your family, a friend.
  • Through the associations mentioned above.
  • Facebook groups: hiking groups in the largest cities in France. But on social networks, you have to exercise your discernment!
  • Forums or specialized sites on the Internet (also with discernment): Want to walk; Hiking trails; Need adventure.

6. Join a group that offers coaching and organized walks

  • Travel agencies, with “freedom” formulas, that is to say carrying a backpack (in particular the trips offered by Pilgrim with the BIPEL agency).
  • Associations. For example, for those who do not dare to set out alone on the paths of Saint-Jacques: association “Les Premiers Pas”, affiliated with the FFRP, which has just created an “adapted route” for associative, medical or other structures , wishing to offer the Compostelle adventure to a group of people suffering from an illness, for example Parkinson’s, or with disabilities.
  • Events. Rando Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel, every 2 years; Tro Breiz every summer; Romanesque hike, in Auvergne.

7. Get informed

  • Websites. Website of Pilgrim and its general newsletter presenting articles on the paths.
  • Magazines and their special issues. Including the special issue of Pilgrim“These paths that do us good”.
  • Specialized bulletins for pilgrimage routes. For the Camino de Santiago, you can turn to the Camino And The Zears.
  • Practical guides. FFRP topoguides; Guides Lepère, Miam-Miam Dodo, by Gérard Rousse, etc.
  • Books on different paths. Guide to pilgrimage routes by Gaële de La Brosse, Presses de la Renaissance/Le Pèlerin, 2017; Guide to the pilgrimage routes of Europe by Fabienne Bodan, Éditions Ouest-France, 2019; On the roads of France by Bernard Rio and Bruno Colliot, Éditions Ouest-France, 2017, etc.
  • Hiking forums and exhibitions. Salon du Randonneur in Lyon; Nature destinations in Paris; Rennes travel and outdoor fair; Nantes Forum of paths, etc.
  • Conferences. Cycle “Of paths and men” in Paris.

8. Test yourself around your home

Some examples for the Paris region:

9. Then discover some paths across France

Themed paths give meaning to the walk and nourish reflection, possibly meditation.

Two main options:

Here are some examples of spiritual itineraries depending on the number of days you have:

An advice: set yourself some objectives for acquiring knowledge (fauna, flora, stars, heritage, legends, local traditions, etc.). This will motivate you even more, and will give you great satisfaction.

10. Share your experience

  • Writing. Writing workshops; Master class in particular that of Pilgrim ; Entoureo.
  • Travel diaries. Camino sketchers (Compostella 2000).
  • Photos and videos. Photo competitions organized by numerous associations, photo screenings in clubs, sharing on social networks (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat).

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