Reading a book while road walking

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    Doug Coe
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bay Area, CA, USA

    I’m reading Chris Townsend’s account of his 2010 PNT thru-hike “Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams” (while sitting in a chair). I’m surprised to learn that he read books on the road walking portions of his hike. I assume because they’re not very scenic (the roads, not the books).

    Does anyone else do that? Not with audiobooks but actual paper (or e-) books?

    Todd T
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I can’t imagine. But I guess it’s better than while driving, something I’ve seen a few times.

    Diane “Piper” Soini
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Barbara

    I have done it in the past. Walking on the sidewalk while reading.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I read dead-trees books while walking on a my treadmill – my “iPlod”.  On an actual trail?  Audio books and podcasts for me when I’m south of about 55N.  At home, I found (the year I got my iPod and stumbled upon 5 grizzlies that summer), that I need to keep my wits about me and my awareness more on the trail.

    Adam G
    BPL Member


    Oh lord no. I find it hard to read while walking anyhow, but while road walking, my biggest fear is being hit by a car. I believe 2 PCT hikers have been killed that way.

    John “Jay” Menna
    BPL Member


    Locale: 30.3668397,-97.7399123

    I used to hike with two guys who would play chess in their heads as we were hiking.  They didn’t use a chessboard, they simply would call out things like “kings bishop takes pawn”.

    While it was amazing it got to be aggravating as hell because you couldn’t keep up with the game, and you were forced to just tune it out.

    To me, reading a book or playing chess seems to have the opposite goal is the hike itself. But, I do understand “hike your own hike “.

    BPL Member


    Locale: San Juan Mtns.

    With all the distracted driving out there?  No way!

    Some of the closest calls I’ve had were with cars coming up from behind, passing one another.  Complete surprise. I try to hug the edge of the road at all times.

    Doug Coe
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bay Area, CA, USA

    I think he was doing it on old, little-used forest service roads mainly.

    I’m also of the mind that that’s not what I’m out there for. I’d rather look around to see what nature has to offer.

    On busier roads, it definitely sounds dangerous!


    BPL Member


    That’s a pretty definitive no for/from me. Unless one has a test and needs to walk themselves to the test site I cannot imagine a benefit that would come from the practice. Listening to a book on one’s headphones would be much better imo.

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    If thirty miles look exactly the same why not. It’s just a fraction of his trip. HYOY and all.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Distracted driving? sure, but just today I was driving in the downtown area and yet another phone gazing walker ambled out into traffic, perfectly oblivious.

    “the kids these days” insist that they’re far more brilliant at multi tasking than their parents and scoff at the notion that they don’t perform at the highest level while juggling three devices at once.

    That said, I can get behind listening to an audio book while out on a long trail. they’re great for long drives. I’ve never done it however.

    Diane Pinkers
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Washington

    I used to do this when walking to school when in high school.  I had a 2 mile walk, and I’d hold a paperback in one hand.  Had great peripheral vision, and paid attention to sounds around me.  When raining, if it wasn’t raining very hard, I’d put a plastic bag over the book and my hand, with the open end open, and still keep on reading.

    Not sure I could manage it today.  Definitely haven’t tried it while hiking, I’d trip over a tree root for sure.

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