In the following paragraphs there is some basic information, from the very origins of hiking to the knowledge of the signs or the ‘MIDE’ method that all hikers must keep in mind.
In order to have a safe and successful excursion, it is necessary to have a proper equipment in good conditions and to plan your trip in advance.
Every hiker should mind following advice before going on a trip:
• Gather the information about the area.
• Obtain all the permits for limited access or in private zones, camp sites, shelters or other kinds of accommodation.
• Learn how to get to the beginning of the route.
• Study with details the route on the map, as well as estimated time for it.
• When using GSP or downloading track by similar application, remember to use GPX format and the WGS84 DATUM.
Personal hiking gear should include basic material and equipment, such as a guidebook, hiking boots, rucksack, hat, sun cream, lip balm, water bottle, food rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Moreover, if the weather is changeable, or you plan to continue hiking at night, there is to take a torch and a small umbrella or cagoule, and some cloths to get changed. It is also advisable to take a first-aid kit with sticking plasters, antiseptic, painkillers, antacid, gauze, needle, etc.
Usually it is not necessary to wear a special type of clothes when you come to the path, though it should be comfortable and with proper accessories. We recommend lightweight and breathable fabric which should be thermal during cold-weather hikes, as well as layered clothing system, so you could take one garment off if necessary. Hats should be always at hand in Málaga, especially in summer. If you go hiking in the mountains higher than 1400 metres, do not forget to wear appropriate warmer clothes and raincoats or cagoules, and use wind-resistant clothing.
You should mainly focus on the election of shoes, and take into account not only your personal taste but also the kind of terrain you will hike on, as well as the season and the weather. Calf-length boots are the most adaptable to different surface types.
Backpack is also an essential part of your gear. It is important to choose the one which creates air space between your back and the bag, and has adjustable straps and hip belts. There are backpacks which are specially made for hiking and have anatomical accessories adapted to different kinds of users. The best option to start with is a medium size camping backpack which is meant for different activities. You should try it on full in store to check if it fits your needs.
Hiking sticks should be carried only if you plan to use them. They help walking more quickly or across difficult terrain, although some hikers need to use them along other parts of the way as well. Telescopic hiking sticks are the most popular as they can be kept in your backpack.
Remember that prevention is better than cure. You need to read carefully the descriptions of the routes so you could get to know everything about them, learn the way back to the start point and the public transport timetable.
The weather can be unpredictable, above all in the mountain, so you should keep in mind that it can start raining and you can suffer from hypothermia. It can also be foggy or clouded which increases the chances of getting lost, and thunder storms or strong wind will make you feel cold.
The paths mostly go through places with good connections, although sometimes this is not the case. Moreover, even though these places are not remote there might be potentially dangerous animals, such as large game animals and, especially, wild boars. The adder is the only species of venomous snakes that appear in Málaga and the surroundings, although it is difficult to see them because they are quite elusive. Some social insects, like wasps or bees, and scorpions or centipedes may cause painful stings so you should better keep your distance from them and follow the correct pathway.
Dangerous crossings are usually clearly signposted, but you should never stop taking advantage of your common sense.
An Explanation Note
Hiking routes that appear in the "Topoghraphical Guide of the Great Málaga Path (GR 249)" are drawn by hiking technicians who based them on the current regulations from the Trails Manual. These routes are passable, but there is to know that there are routes which are signposted (e.g. with PR A-266 sign for a short-distance Andalusian path) with internationally accepted signs and officially approved, and there are routes which have not been signposted nor approved yet. Therefore, the latter´s planimetry and data are included in the guide so you could hike safely.
A secret for a good walk that requires physical effort is based on two factors: fitness (something you get by training) and technical knowledge which is obtained by learning the route. Having assumed the above, there are five basic rules to have in mind:
1. Start walking at a slow paste until you achieve a constant walking rhythm. Do not run or stop unnecessarily.
2. Follow your breathing while you are walking.
3. Avoid long breaks in order to prevent cooling your muscles.
4. Walk correctly: your feet should be plain, your body vertical, and the gravity centre at right angle to your feet. When walking uphill and downhill, your body should be leant forward a little bit, your walking rhythm becomes slower on downhill terrain, and/or your steps get shorter. A walking pace of three or four km per hour is appropriate on flat terrain. In normal circumstances, 300/400 metres elevation can be climbed up in approximately one hour.
5. You should drink water or isotonic drinks every half an hour, and your meals should be adapted to physical effort and not exaggerated.