A successful trek starts long before the departure date. It is not unusual to hear experienced trekkers tell about how they hung the map up on the wall at home and followed the trail through valleys and passes, over streams and other obstacles, time after time. Studying the map is an important – and rather enjoyable – part of preparing for the trip.
So get out your map, or maps in the plural if your trek is a long one. Identify the obstacles you will encounter along the way. Follow the intended route with your finger and take note of the landmarks you will pass. If there is a turn-off around 400 m after a cabin, it can be a good idea to write a reminder and attach it to the map. This way you will not first remember that you should have turned there after walking 1.5 km down the wrong trail. Make notes about good locations for breaks and campsites, what you will need to buy when you pass a mountain cabin, where there is a sauna or where you think it will be easiest to ford a stream. Fill your map with lots of notes and observations.
How long will it take?
Many beginner trekkers wonder how long it takes to trek in the mountains. A rough estimate is approximately 3 km per hour in the mountains, but this tempo can depend on many factors: physical condition, terrain, weather and how heavy your pack is. A good way to prepare is to time yourself during your practice treks. Time yourself in different situations: how long it takes to walk one kilometre on a simple path without a backpack, how fast you can walk with a full pack and how long it takes you to walk off the trail when carrying a backpack. You will find that the times vary significantly. This information will make it easier to plan appropriate daily targets for your trek.
There are also standards for how to calculate how far you will walk in a certain amount of time. You can find one of these tables on the Swedish Tourist Association's website.
Be kind to yourself in the beginning
The first 24 hours of a trek are often the hardest. Your body is not used to the stress, your routines have not yet been established and your backpack is filled with food. Therefore, the smartest thing to do is to not plan too many difficult days at the beginning of the trek. During the first few days, set more generous daily targets, give yourself plenty of breaks and walk at a slower tempo. After several days, when everything feels more natural and the backpack is like an extension of your own body, you can increase the distance between the daily targets.
Plan with an error of margin
A good piece of advice for all treks into the wilderness is to plan with an error of margin. Make sure that you have enough food and water, even for a day trip! You can be delayed by bad weather, equipment problems or an injury – or some other unpredictable event. On a multi-day trek it is good to have at least one extra day of supplies. If you reach your final destination on time, you always have the option of exploring the area.
Tell someone where you are going
When you know which trail you will follow, tell someone at home about your plans. In the event you have problems when you are on the trail, do not reach your destination and do not check in by a certain time, there is someone who can raise the alarm. You can inform the staff at many mountain stations in the Swedish mountains about where you are going. NOTE! Do not forget to report that you have reached your final destination, or if the route changes, to avoid unnecessary rescue searches.