April 18, 2019
BY: @jacquesmaraisphoto

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost”.

                                                                                    J.R.R. Tolkien  ~  The Lord of the Rings

Stepping Out

Yup, different people get into hiking for different reasons.  Some do it to get fit, others to de-stress, some to meet new people (or maybe spend more time with friends and family), while many ‘take-a-hikers’ heads out there in order to escape the rat race.  Whatever your personal reasons for wanting to become a wanderer, there are important decisions you will need to make before consummating your relationship with the great outdoors. 

In essence, walking is about undertaking small journeys of discovery.  It might not be exploration on the grand scale of a Marco Polo discovering far-flung corners of the globe, but it still captures the sensation of travelling into the (ever so slightly) unknown.

You might be on a well-trodden track, a route that you have walked many times before, but such is the beauty of nature that it will show you a new face every time.  A glimpse of scarlet in the undergrowth might uncover a previously unnoticed disa, while a flash of feathery blue will reveal a kingfisher flitting along a stream bed.  Over the years, a hiking route will become like an old friend, ageing with you and mellowing as you get to know it better.

Seasons will herald joyful changes along a regular trail, dressing it in splashes of colour in spring or shades of green in summer, while winter will bring with it the return of stark and simple lines.  Over time, trees will shake off a spindly adolescence, spreading gnarly branches in greeting when you again encounter them after a decade or two.  It does not matter how many times you travel a certain route:  every walk will bring new discoveries, allowing you to explore to your heart’s content.

Evaluating Your Ability

Let’s assume, for the moment, that you’re a babe in the woods and have never ventured beyond your back garden. The HI-TEC GARDEN ROUTE WALKING FESTIVAL is the perfect event to change this, with dozens of walks for all ages and abilities, so now is the time to pack your backpack and hit the trail! In this second HI-TEC BLOG, I’m going to give you some pointers on both packing for the hike as well as what to expect on the trail.

Dozens of routes and trails mean there is something for everyone at this perambulation celebration, from the kids and teens, to real mountain lovers and hard-core hikers. The WALKING FESTIVAL also makes for a perfect opportunity to get your family together for a fresh-air experience, away from their phones and tablets, and in on of South Africa’s most gorgeous natural landscapes.

Main sponsors HI-TEC have supported this festival for four years now, with the event focus on ‘sharing a love for the great outdoors in a responsible manner’. And best of all, while you and your love ones up your step count and breathe in all that fresh air, you’re actually contributing to the planet through raising funds for trails and conservation here on the Garden Route.

Volunteer walk leaders will be sharing their love of both the region and the trails, while imparting their incredible knowledge of the fauna, flora, geology & geography of the area. So, if you want an intimate glance into the forests, shorelines, peaks and myriad ecosystems of the Garden Route, go check out www.walkingfestival.co.za and book your walks ASAP!

Ten Trail Tips to Remember …

Even though you will be walking with Hike Leaders during the HI-TEC WALKING FESTIVAL, these tips will stand you in good stead as you explore our tiny Blue Planet in years to come …

  1. Be environmentally aware; never damage fauna or flora in any way along the trail.  Making fires, picking flowers and harming animals are all no-nos.
  2. Straying off the marked trail causes erosion, as does throwing stones or rolling rocks off cliffs; don’t do it.
  3. Be considerate towards other trail users.  Do not litter in any way (this includes noise pollution such as shouting and loud radios) and always ascribe to correct trail etiquette.
  4. Protect yourself against sunburn and hyperthermia (overheating) in summer by wearing a hat, a light and breathable long-sleeve shirt and applying sunblock regularly.
  5. Do not assume that drinking water will be available along the trail; always carry an emergency supply of at least one litre of water for every hour of walking.
  6. Rain and freezing weather may cause hypothermia, so dress accordingly.  Wet clothes speed up body temperature loss, so a raincoat is as important as a warm layer as it also cuts wind chill).
  7. Preferably walk with at least two companions; if something goes wrong, one person can remain with the injured party while the other goes for help.
  8. Never walk without a map on an unknown trail; it is easy to get lost in an area you do not know.
  9. Don’t try out new shoes on a long hike.  Break them in gently during shorter walks until you are sure they are comfortable and won’t cause blisters.
  10. Always leave a trail itinerary and an estimated time of return with somebody who can notify the authorities if something goes wrong.
Five Items You Want to Pack …

In preparation for the weekend, each member of the Marais Clan selected a favourite footwear or apparel item to take with - or wear - on the trail.

The Gamekeeper

This highly technical waterproof hiking boot for men features a reflective heel webbing for safety and a moulded heel chassis offering additional stability and protection. Comfort and safety were top of mind during the manufacturing of this quality boot, with a DriTec waterproof, breathable membrane to keep your feet dry and soft mesh lining for unmatched comfort. The OrthoLite® Impressions sock liner with slow recovery foam delivers superior cushioning, while the lightweight and durable 'fork shank' always ensures flexibility and stability. Adjustable 3D non-slip laces ensure a perfect fit, while the exo-skeletal high performance Stabila-Clip cradle delivers incredible torsional flexibility and re-assuring ride on all terrains. The classic Hi-Tec MDT rubber outsole improves grip and provides durability.

Desna Waterproof Jackets

The highly rated Desna is perfect for those cooler nights, with waterproofing to keep you dry during rainy days, while still offering enough breathability to ensure adequate ventilation. It also incorporates reflective elements in the design to keep you visible during nights out. This classy garment is available in a stellar selection of colour-ways, making it your go-to light rain jacket.

Ravus Mid and Low

The Ravus Vent Mid is designed to be a breathable, comfortable and fashionable outdoor cross-over hiking boot. The M-D Traction outsole provides grip for walking both up and downhill on your adventure and ultimate comfort is ensured with a compression-moulded EVA midsole and mid-boot design to protect and secure your ankles. A gusseted tongue keeps debris out while the ghillie and rustproof hardware lacing system provides a snug and secure fit. It is lightweight with a durable fork shank that ensures flexibility and stability.

The Ravus Vent Low is a comfortable, breathable outdoor crossover shoe. An M-D Traction outsole provides grip for walking both up and downhill on your adventure and the ultimate comfort is ensured with a compression-moulded EVA midsole. The gusseted tongue makes sure you avoid debris on those challenging trails. Feel confident and cool on your adventure!

Condor

The Condor has a striking silhouette built for the outdoor, but that will shine in the city, too. Features include a high performance synthetic upper, soft mesh lining and a moulded impact-absorbing EVA mid-sole to ensure you are comfortable during those long workout sessions. It also features external heel stabilising systems and a solid rubber outsole for grip and stability. The Condor is all you need for the perfect workout!

Simba Vest

Do you feel a chill coming along? This lightweight vest is the perfect item to get your body warm and ready for the adventures the day has to offer. It’s light and offers a classic look for an everyday outfit. Layer it casually with your favourite shirt, jeans and sneakers.


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