For some time we had been researching autonomy multi-day hikes in Portugal but never really did one, lack of experience and knowledge made it seem always a little too hard. So when a friend told us about an introduction course to mountaineering where we would have classes about gear, safety and two weekends of practical mountain autonomy hikes, we went for it.
What to expect of a mountain hike course
We first had a few online classes where our instructor talked about gear, safety and even what to take to eat. The course also included cartography and guidance in the mountains as well as preventing accidents. (course by https://www.espacosnaturais.net/pt/)
But what we wanted was to have some first-hand experience in the mountains and learn the basics while being in the safety of a group.
What is hiking in autonomy?
It means that you carry with you everything you need to complete the journey. Tent, food, clothes or other equipment, you rely only on yourself.
Equipment and tips
One of the most important topics for everyone starting is the equipment and its weight.
- Tent – The tent alone can weigh you down, we have an ultralight tent with around 2.5kg so we each take half of it.
- Mattresses – We took some of those foam ones we had and it works ok, but they are bulky. Others had those lightweight self-inflatable mattresses that fold to a super small size and they say it’s quite comfortable.
- Sleeping bags – We took the ones we had super old and 3 seasons and we had no problems.
- Food – Some people like dehydrated meals, we… not so much. What we did was bag our meals in separate bags and have some snacks and fruit spread on the small pockets of our backpack.
- Water – This will be quite a lot of weight. We took all the water with us, as we didn’t have any water filtering systems or tablets. It was only two days so it worked for us. But you can look at other options or even carry less water with you and refill it if you are going to cross a town or village.
- Snacks, snacks and more snacks. They are light small and useful for a quick energy refill. We made our mix of dried fruits.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, lipstick. I’ll write again – sunscreen. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Smaller items: Flashlight, Map, Lighter, small Pharmacy kit, toilet paper and a garbage bag.
Clothes, what to take on a mountaineering trip
Layers, layers and layers. The best tip for everyone is to use layers of clothes. Being able to put on an extra layer or remove one while walking is the best way to stay comfortable. While on the mountain it seems you are constantly either too cold or too warm so layers will give you more options.
Waterproof clothes and shoes
We took a few items in case of rain because the forecast was for a rainy weekend and for the most part they failed, probably better than nothing but still, it was bad so not a lot of tips from us. Some of the other participants wearing Gore-tex say it was very good, but that stuff was too expensive for us.
Multi-day hikes in Portugal? Where did we go?
Serra S. Macário and Serra da Estrela. Great places to visit and we ended up going to Serra da Estrela again with our six-year old son to make nearly the same hike we did on the course.