While I have always loved the outdoors, my passion for hiking really developed during my time in Switzerland. In fact, it is pretty difficult to live in Switzerland and not hike. This place is really a hiker’s paradise – full of endless, well-labeled trails and beautiful landscapes. My first ‘hike altitude hike’ was in Davos, and, to this day, it remains one of my most memorable hikes. The moment I surpassed 2000 meters and saw the magnificent views I knew this was something I would do for a very long time. Despite this moment of awe, there were a lot of beginner mistakes and lessons I learned during my first high-altitude hike.
Is it Dangerous?
My friends were planning a hike in Davos…hiker’s paradise, but for me, at the time, it did not look as such. The forecast two weeks before the hike showed thunderstorms. “Maybe not a great idea to go hiking in the mountains,” I thought to myself. Then I began to ask myself questions like: Do I have the experience to hike at high altitude? Maybe I will not really enjoy a high-altitude hike.
The more questions I asked myself, the more self-doubt I had. At one moment, I began to realize that I had never been hiking above 1000 meters, nonetheless 2000 meters. Did I need special equipment? Does it get cold? What happens if there is an accident, how will I get out? All of these questions were racing through my mind. And, now, looking back 8 years ago, I can’t help but smile knowing that I just climbed Chachani at over 6000 meters, and I am planning a 7000 meters climb. The fear of the unknown is indeed frightening, but overcoming these barriers unveils what we are truly capable of accomplishing.
I sent numerous messages to my friends asking about the weather and if we were really prepared to go hiking. They had much more experience than myself, especially being from Switzerland, and reassured me that the weather would not pose a problem and they were experienced hikers. After a lot of consideration, I decided to go. But I was very much unprepared to the point where I did not even have hiking shoes.
Fast forward to a week later, and I had all my gear and I was ready to go! I was nervous, but curious to see why hiking in Davos and Switzerland, in general, was such a popular activity.
This Is Why I Hike!
We arrived in Davos, and, as we exited the train, I was just in awe. Davos is a little town encapsulated by endless mountains ranges. The start of the hike was easy, nothing technical. “Ok, this is not so bad,” I thought to myself. Beginners mistake, we were not even on the main trail.
After about 2 hours, one of my friends turned to me and said, “See that’s the top, we have to hike up there.” This is when reality sank in. Yikes. I thought this will be a nightmare. I began the zig-zag up the mountain. I could feel it was harder to breathe, and I had to take several breaks. I could see the top, but it did not seem like I was getting any closer. I was taking deep breathes, but nothing was really working. It was felt like I was trying to break a marathon record. Then, there I was at the top, 2500 meters. I looked across and saw a magical crystal blue lake. I never imagined a lake could look so perfect. My friend tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the other side – a beautiful panoramic view of the mountain range.
I just stood and admired the beautiful landscapes, and I soon realized this is why people hike. It is difficult to reach the summit, but there is a sense of accomplishment once you complete your ascent and there is this feeling of standing on top of the world while being surrounded by absolute beauty.
Since this moment, I realized how much I loved the outdoors and how much I enjoyed hiking. If you have read my other blog posts you have probably noticed an emphasis on hiking when I travel, and it all started with this very hike!
Beginner Hiking Mistakes
My first hike above 2000 meters taught me a lot about hiking. Here are a few things that I wish I would have considered or known before attempting a high-altitude hike.
1. Not Eating & Drinking Enough – I only had 0.5L of water, which is nowhere near enough. The air is drier at higher elevations so drinking enough fluids is essential. I also did not have any snacks. Nuts, chocolate, energy bars are really good snacks that can help fuel your body. At high elevations, your body is excreting significantly more energy and you need to be hydrated and well-nourished.
2. Bringing Too Much – I think I brought everything I could, and none of it was useful. I could have packed half and had a much more enjoyable hike.
3. Not Wearing Proper Clothing – I was freezing at night because I did not have enough layers and was poorly dressed. I had Under Armor compression gear, but I did not take it on this hike. I just wore a cotton t-shirt and hiking shorts with a light jacket, which was a huge mistake.
4. Not Hiking My Own Hike – I let others prepare the hike. I was not familiar with the route and had not researched the trail ahead of time. I did not know the terrain, and, as a result, nothing I brought was useful. I checked the weather, but that was it. I should have evaluated the route ahead of time so that I could have been better prepared. I should have checked this website called Hiking in Switzerland where all the hikes in Switzerland are documented. Usually, you can find information on a hike you want to do online, and it is best to do this research before the hike.
5. Not Wearing the Correct Hiking Boots – There are different hiking boots for different terrains. I had bought hiking boots, but they were for hillwalking (as I later found out). My feet were in pain after a few hours because we were hiking in the mountains on hard surfaces and my boots did not have soles that could absorb the shock. Now I have the correct boots, after a lot of research and talking with experts at my local hiking shop. Here are the hiking boots I wear, and here is a detailed guide on how to choose hiking boots.
6. Not Using Hiking Poles – During the descent my knees were killing me, and if I would have used hiking poles it could have reduced the impact.
7. Not Stretching – I forgot that I was excising. Hiking is a sport and you do need to warm up and stretch before, during, and after a hike. Now stretching is part of my routine, and I make sure my body is prepared for such endeavors – especially on multi-day hikes. As a result, I no longer have knee pain, and my body feels much better during and after a hike.
8. No GPS – No matter where you are you should always have a GPS in case of emergency or you get lost. Check out My Best Hiking Tips From Around The World to see my suggestions for GPS.
Summary of My First Hike Above 2000 Meters
I find hiking to be such an exhilarating experience. An open road with my mind as my only obstacle. It creates new challenges with unexpected rewards. If you have read this site you know that I love to hike, and I try to hike in every country I visit. While I enjoy hiking at high altitudes, this is not a requirement. I also enjoy hikes in the forests of Strasbourg for example. Hiking is a great way to get in shape, experience the outdoors, and explore a country. My first hike above 2000 meters is one of my most memorable hikes because it launched me into travel and opened my mind to a whole new world.
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Read More About My Other Hiking Adventures
Hope you enjoyed my post on my first hike above 2000 meters and found my beginner mistakes useful. Here are some of my other hiking adventures that you might find interesting.
- Hiking Acatenango: Face-To-Face with an Erupting Volcano
- Getting Lost in Kyrgyzstan: Hike to Song Kol
- Climbing Chachani: Peru’s 6000m Volcano
- Trekking to Ciudad Perdida: Colombia’s Lost City
Have questions about preparing for your first hike? Send me a message in the comments below!
Interested in more hiking tips? Check out my other posts for more hiking tips.