A Guide to Wilderness Wellness

Why Is Hydration An Imperative For Himalayan Treks?

by Urvi Chheda

Kang Yatse 2 Base Camp
At the base of Kang Yatse 2. High Altitude Treks & Winter Treks pose significant challenges for the body.

Garhwal Himalaya, situated in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, is the perfect destination for all the adventure-seeking and nature-loving enthusiasts. The location houses diverse trek-routes and trails with varying difficulty levels that cater to different seasons. These Himalayan winter trek-routes offer spectacular views of mesmerising landscapes with abundant flora and gigantic picturesque mountains. And adventurous people are always ready to reach the top of the world, isn’t it?
However, before the commencement of any such trip, few things should be meticulously taken care off. Keeping in mind your experience in Himalayan trekking or winter trekking in Himalaya, in general, your body type, stamina and endurance levels, a few of pre-requisites should be undoubtedly followed.
One thing I have found common amongst people, especially the ones going for winter treks is that of lack of proper hydration. Often, it is noticed that people confuse that lower temperature diminishes the need to consume water and fluids. This is because the tendency to sweat is slightly lesser than the summer. Moreover, the feeling or desire of consuming liquids is also less, which adds to the confusion. .
You should note that just because you can’t physically see sweat doesn’t mean you don’t perspire. Therefore, it should be kept in mind that liquid intake should be the same for all seasons i.e 35 ml per kg of body weight. Moreover, if you are taking up tasks which tests your endurance such as treks, especially at higher altitudes, hydration is a significant imperative for Himalayan winter treks. Concluding, you should drink water at regular intervals.

Reasons Why You Should Keep Yourself Hydrated At Himalayan Winter Treks

Dry and Cold Winds

Cold temperature, often brings cold winds which lack moisture. This can lead to dryness in the body. The lower humidity and temperature at higher altitudes is one of the main catalysts for dehydration. Also, as you go higher, the air becomes thinner. This imposes more pressure on your lungs thereby breathing faster to maintain standard oxygen levels in your body.
Biologically we tend to lose moisture just by breathing. You must have observed the glass being fogged up when you exhale on the window-panes, isn’t it? Consequently, our mouth feels dried often than usual. This is a symptom of dehydration.

Drop in Water Content of a Body

Dehydration will affect your strength and stamina, along with your physical and cognitive wellbeing. Our brain comprises eighty percent water and is the first organ to be affected when water is scarce in our body.
Drop in water content leads to fatigue, and difficulty in transmitting electrical impulses from the brain to the rest of the body leading to neurological problems like strokes. Quick thinking and reflexes, which is a result of a healthy brain and body are also hindered. Consequently, head-ache is also one of the symptoms of dehydration.

Affecting Circulation Of Vital Nutrients

Apart from regulating body temperature, water is responsible for the transportation of all the nutrients and oxygen all over, which makes sure all of our body’s chemical reactions are up to mark. If not done properly, the brain basically shuts down to conserve energy, which you can’t afford in a high-risk situation and environment setting of the Himalaya.
One should keep in mind the total symptoms of dehydration which include dark urine, dizziness, dry skin, sunken eyes, rapid heartbeat, mental fog, fainting and low energy.
Nevertheless, these problems can easily be avoided by following a few cautious steps and undertaking some priority-measures for your welfare. Let your experience be worthwhile and memorable for years to come!
Let us learn about a few tips to keep yourself hydrated during Himalayan winter treks.

Tips Towards Body-Hydrating In Himalayan Treks Of India

Give Hydration A Top Priority

As cliché as it might sound, before you work on gathering and working towards any other essentials, make sure you strive towards acquiring sufficient water and supplies to help you stay hydrated. Drinking local water helps in quickly acclimatising with the region. So while at base camp, depending on the knowledge of allergies, you can either consume directly or use purification tablets as a starter. You can also drink boiled water, which is generally available in kitchen tents.
Before embarking on your journey nourish yourself with fruits, green leafy vegetables etc. as a way to level up your oxygen-intaking capacity.

Know How Much Water To Drink

It is, usually, suggested to consume 2-3 litres of water in a day on an average, starting from the time you wake up in the morning. However, during treks, it is not easy to carry so much water. Therefore, it is advisable to carry a one-litre bottle and refill it whenever possible or if you cross a river or stream. The flowing river water is generally pure and non-contaminated. Moreover, it is altogether a blissful experience under the open sky in the woods!

Drink Hot Water For Better Digestion

Try and drink hot water at the campsites. Not only it helps to keep oneself warmer but also aids our digestive capacity. However, if you feel that the water does not suit you then it is advised to use purification tablets, which are easily available today.
You can carry ORS or Vitamin C packets to mix with your water to replenish lost nutrients as well.

Rivers And Lakes- Natural Water Resources

Most of the times trail routes are taken keeping in mind the number of water bodies in that particular area. Running water of streams are normally safe to drink, which also carry essential minerals. But it is not the case in all the Himalayan treks. Therefore, keep at least two litres and use it judiciously. Enjoy your time along these routes while keeping yourself fresh and jovial!

Begin Early Mornings

The weather tends to be sunny and hotter by post noon. Therefore, you tend to sweat more. Try to be in shade and always carry a hat. Not only it helps protect your face from UV rays but also keeps you at bay from dehydrating.

Improving The Water-Intake Capacity

It may sound easy, but at times it is one of the most difficult tasks to do. Many people are just not used to drinking a lot of water, partly because of their lifestyles (consuming caffeine and soda as poor water replacement), or just not needing to quench their thirst.
If you suddenly start drinking a lot of water, despite your body not being used to, it may react differently. It can range from you feeling bloated all the time, to stomach aches. So, improve your methodology to consume water, beforehand. Keep a water bottle always on your work-desk and in your visibility. Keep a timer maybe to remind you to sip at intervals. This will develop a habit to be aware and it will prove useful in the mountains.
Once you are ready and taken necessary steps to ensure your safety and wellbeing, proceed to the treks of Uttrakhand and experience the wonderful Himalayan trekking in India. Do not forget to get lost in the tranquillity of nature bestowed upon us!

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