LONG DISTANCE HIKE IN LITHUANIA

Have you heard about long-distance hiking in Lithuania? What sets it apart from short hikes? How can you prepare yourself for a long hike? These questions and more will be answered by Povilas Rudinskis, a geologist and environmentalist. Povilas is a former leader and chairman of the Vilnius University Hiking Club, and he continues to be actively involved in the club's activities. He volunteers his time to lead hikes for people of all ages in eastern and southern Lithuania.

Since 2018, Povilas has been passionate about hiking and has developed a deep interest in the culture of hiking. He particularly enjoys long-distance hikes that span several days or more, involving overnight camping along the way. Having explored hiking trails in all the Baltic countries, Povilas has gained valuable experience and knowledge.

What are the best long distance hiking trails in Lithuania and what makes them unique?

Indeed, in Lithuania, we do not have many long-distance hiking trails due to being a small country. However, it is gratifying to see their emergence. Perhaps the first of its kind is the Camino Lituano, a 500 km route. There are also other sections of it, such as Camino Aukštaitija and Camino Samagotia (Žemaitija). What makes these routes unique is that they are well-marked, and there are designated places to stay along the way.

Additionally, we have the Lithuanian Forest Trail, which spans over 747 km. It is unique in that it follows the course of the Nemunas and Dubysa rivers, from south to north, and crosses the region of Žemaitija. Along the trail, there are many stunning sights and forests to explore.

Furthermore, I have personally mapped out a route called the Aukštaitija-Dzūkija Trail, covering approximately 500 km from Turmantas to Lazdijai, along the eastern and southern borders of Lithuania. This trail offers a captivating wilderness experience, surrounded by forests and lakes. The goal was to create a route that stays away from urban areas. Another advantage is the proximity of railway stations, making it convenient to arrive at or depart from the trail. Someone has already completed
this trail. The route can be found in my instagram bio.

How do you prepare for long distance hiking in the diverse terrain and changing weather conditions?

It's always important to be prepared for everything when embarking on such journeys. You need to carefully consider which items to take and have a checklist. Personally, I only undertake these hikes during the warm season, which means I need fewer clothes and a lighter sleeping bag. However, it's always essential to have rain gear with you. Even if it gets wet in summer, it tends to dry quickly because of the warm weather.

It is important to be well-prepared for any situation that may arise during your hike. Having the right gear and clothing is crucial for comfort and safety. Make sure to pack appropriate clothing for the season and weather conditions, including rain gear to protect yourself from unexpected rains. Additionally, consider the weight and compactness of your gear, as you'll be carrying it for an extended period. Planning ahead and having a detailed checklist will ensure that you have all the necessary items for a successful and enjoyable hiking experience.

Are there any specific gear recommendations for long distance hiking?

Indeed, there are specific items that can greatly enhance your hiking experience. I recommend having a water filter, as it allows you to carry a smaller quantity of water and reduces the weight of your backpack. Additionally, a fanny pack can be very useful for keeping your valuables close to you. You can also store items like a power bank or your phone in it.

Wearing toe socks can be highly beneficial as they help prevent blisters between your toes. I also recommend choosing wide-toebox footwear from brands like Altra or Topo Athletics. This type of footwear allows for natural toe splay and can provide added comfort and stability during your hike.

Having the right gear can significantly contribute to your overall enjoyment and comfort while on the trail. Consider these specific items when preparing for your hike to ensure a more pleasant and successful experience.

What are the essential tools and resources for planning a long distance hike?

The website is indeed a helpful tool for keeping track of your backpack's contents and weight. It allows you to create an organized inventory of your gear, making it easier to manage and plan your packing. For route planning and navigation, both outdooractive.com and en.mapy.cz are excellent resources. They provide detailed maps, trail information, and user-generated content to help you plan your route and stay on track during your hike. When it comes to tracking weather forecasts, using a reliable platform like ventusky.com is a smart choice.

→ backpack's contents

→ route planning and navigation

→ route planning and navigation

→ tracking weather forecasts

What are the essential clothing items and footwear for long distance hiking?

I always recommend choosing lightweight clothing for hiking, as you don't need to pack too many items. It's essential to have a few pairs of comfortable socks. I suggest having lightweight pants, preferably water-resistant, along with simple and lightweight shorts. A sun hoodie and a warm, lightweight fleece made of materials like alpaca or merino wool are also great options. Don't forget to bring a buff, which can serve various purposes.

If it's cooler, a thin puffy jacket will come in handy. And, of course, a sun hat is essential for sun protection. When it comes to footwear, opt for wide-toe or roomier trail running shoes from brands like Altra, Topo Athletics, Brooks, or La Sportiva.

What are the opportunities for wild camping or overnight stays along the long distance hiking trails?

Indeed, when walking the Camino or Forest Trail routes, campsites may not always be readily available. In such cases, it is necessary to improvise and search for a spot to pitch a tent away from the prying eyes of others.

Eastern and southern Lithuania are abundant with lakes and rivers, offering numerous camping opportunities. It is relatively easy to find a comfortable spot near a water body where you can conveniently set up your tent.

How do you manage food resupply points or carry enough food for multi-day hikes?

Before embarking on a hike, it is essential to thoroughly analyze your route and choose places where you can replenish your food supplies. Lithuania is relatively small, and it is possible to access a grocery store almost every day.

However, it is important to assess your stamina and carry enough food for at least two days. In the worst-case scenario, if you don't want to deviate from the route, you can arrange for transportation to the nearest town to resupply.

How can long distance hiking contribute to exploring and connecting with the natural and cultural heritage of Lithuania?

Long-distance hikes can truly contribute to the exploration of Lithuanian culture, as they often lead to lesser-known, ancient sites and visits to old villages. Hikers frequently have the opportunity to engage with local residents who still uphold traditional practices and customs.

Additionally, staying in authentic rural tourism homesteads provides an immersive experience. It's worth noting that many hiking routes traverse significant heritage sites in Lithuania. These experiences offer a unique and enriching way to discover the country's cultural heritage and create lasting memories.

What tips or recommendations can experienced long distance hikers provide for those embarking on their first hiking adventure?

Take a moment to think if you really need each item, as you'll be carrying everything on your shoulders. Therefore, I recommend weighing each item in your backpack. Choose comfortable and lightweight shoes, and bring toe-socks.

Don't push yourself too hard on the first few days. It usually takes 3-7 days to get into a rhythm, so I suggest starting with a shorter distance, up to 25 km. Don't forget to pack energy sources as they can be key to a successful hike. Having maps on your phone will prevent you from getting lost.