Choosing your destination
It may sound obvious, but you need to invest some time in choosing where you want to go. Val Badia, of course, but where? Take into account what gradient is the path you want to undertake, if it’s in the shade or entirely under the sun (remember some sun screen, whether it’s winter or summer), put together your gear according to the time of year (winter boots if you are walking in the snow, proper sturdy shoes if it’s just a stroll, and so on). Remember to check the map – and bring it with you – as well as a compass – make sure you know how to use it.
Check the weather forecast
It goes without saying, quite clearly. Remember that, in addition to the general forecast for the entire region, there are local ones, which are usually much more specific.
What do I bring?
We are talking about day hikes, here, so no overnight gear such as stove or tent are needed. If it’s true that items for a day hike may vary according to each individual, there are some articles you should never forego bringing, such as: warm layers (even in the summer! The weather changes fast in the mountains), gloves, food (some snacks if it’s a short hike, a sandwich or more if it’s longer), plenty of water (one litre at least), a pocket knife, a small first-aid kit, a head torch, your camera!
Try not to overload your rucksack. And remember, if you take a big rucksack, you will fill it full, so opt for a smaller option. A 25-litre pack is more than enough for day hikes.
They vary in material (and price), but they should be essential items for all types of hikes, from the easiest to the most demanding ones.
What can I do to prepare?
You should be reasonably fit to embark on any hike – this does not mean being able to run a marathon! – and you should be aware of the altitude you are going to face (oxygen levels are gradually reduced in the atmosphere after 3000 metres). If you hike in groups, make sure nobody gets left behind and respect everyone’s pace.
It is also highly important that you break in your footwear, especially if you intend to hike for several days on end. When you buy your footwear, check that there is enough room for your toes, and that they don’t wrap your feet too tightly.
Keep on the marked path
Especially if you are new to the mountains, don’t try and venture out, as you may get lost. Paths are maintained thanks to the effort of volunteers. Help them by keeping on them.
You may marvel at the colours and smells of flowers, and be tempted to pick the most colourful ones. Please don’t. Allow everyone to wonder at the colours of nature.
Let somebody know where you are going.
You can choose to go out hiking on your own – though this is discouraged. If you do so, let somebody know where you are going and what time you intend to come back.
You will avoid any unpleasant surprise or a search party if you are, in reality, just snoozing on the grass somewhere.
Check out parking spots, road closures, and restriction areas.
Some roads may be closed, especially in winter, others may be restricted to residents or local farmers, so make sure you abide the law! At several times of the year, said roads may be open – such as mountain huts season openings – so do check with the local authorities.
These days, the Internet is everywhere. There are useful websites where you can check reports on hikes, ski trips, climbing routes and so on, undertaken the previous day. Useful sites are www.gulliver.it (in Italian only) and www.camptocamp.org (in various languages)
Here, you can also check photos of the suggested trail, so that you get an idea of the type of terrain you’ll encounter.
For the techy among you, you can now download GPS directions for most of your walks, and check them with your GPS device or Suunto. Don’t become too dependent on modern gadgets, however, and always remember to take a map with you. Use your common sense in any situation.