Why I Walk
Sep 15, 2020 at 4:48 pm #3676226Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
It’s four-thirty in the afternoon and I’m feeling a sleepiness only caffeine, napping, or walking can fix. English tea time. Utah amble.Sep 15, 2020 at 11:04 pm #3676305Rex SandersBPL Member
Just today, I (finally) took a break from the screens that dominate so much of my life and went for a walk. Ideas started pouring out, as they often do, and I’m glad I brought my pocket recorder this time. Plus I think I solved a problem that’s stumped me for days.
These mental breaks are essential and soul-filling. Unfortunately, backpacking anywhere in or near California will be nearly impossible for quite some time. So shorter walks must do.
Thank you for reminding us.
— RexSep 16, 2020 at 8:25 am #3676329Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
As a friend of mine says (he’s a cyclist, not a hiker): when you get back from your ride you never remember why it was hard to get up off the sofa…Sep 16, 2020 at 11:32 pm #3676473Doug CoeBPL Member
@sierradougLocale: Bay Area, CA, USA
you never remember why it was hard to get up off the sofa
Man, so true. I need to just kick myself out the door sometimes. I mean, now that the air around here is breathable again (East Bay, CA).Sep 18, 2020 at 6:24 am #3676643Alex HBPL Member
@abhittLocale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Nice piece Ben. Of course many of know that in The Complete Walker, Colin Fletcher has many quotes about walking in the back of the book but one of my favorites is one of his
“I find that the three truly great times for thinking thoughts are when I am standing in the shower, sitting on the john, or walking. And the greatest, by far, is walking”Sep 18, 2020 at 7:38 am #3676651HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Nice reminder to get off the couch. Living in a walkable neighborhood or safe bike trails helps in this regard especially as age conspires to slow down our metabolism.Sep 18, 2020 at 9:18 am #3676666Jon SolomonBPL Member
Walking is definitely therapeutic.
I combine walking with mantra practice.
When the skies are clear it is also helpful to direct the gaze to the empty sky.Sep 18, 2020 at 9:56 am #3676668obx hikerBPL Member
Really nice piece, almost lyrical. You mentioned several great reads for walkers and centered the article to a degree around “Wanderlust”. It’s a really interesting book and highly recommend. The origin of the term or verb saunter as described in “Wanderlust” is one of those little gems or flickers of light that bubbles up into consciousness with some regularity; sort of filling out or adding some history to the often spiritual nature of walking. You also mentioned McFarlane and his body of work might also tie in or help folks with becoming better observers while walking and thus better ‘amateur naturalists’
One you didn’t mention that certainly applies to all of us that follow trails or even make our own is “On Trails”.
It’s a great big wonderful world out there even if it’s confined to a small familiar space. I walk therefore I am. To walk is human to forgive divine. Think I’ll take a walk!
BTW Solnit is generally credited with coming up with the phrase ‘mansplaining’ (and there I did it didn’t I?)Sep 18, 2020 at 1:00 pm #3676681jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Yes, Wanderlust is a great read; Solnit is a really fine stylist. I find it interesting that she didn’t mention Rimbaud in this book. Rimbaud was one of the great walkers of literature and ended wandering through Africa and writing reports for the Geographic Society.Sep 18, 2020 at 1:39 pm #3676688Dave HeissBPL Member
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
We are made to move, which I think is why it feels so good to get up and take a walk.Sep 18, 2020 at 1:56 pm #3676693rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
“We are made to move, which I think is why it feels so good to get up and take a walk.”
I agree, even when we can’t walk.Sep 18, 2020 at 2:16 pm #3676695d kBPL Member
OMG, Doug, that article, and especially the video. Thanks a lot for making me cry ;-)Sep 19, 2020 at 5:41 pm #3676820Tom KBPL Member
It is what we were designed to do, and we forsake it at our peril.Sep 19, 2020 at 8:33 pm #3676828bjcBPL Member
Tom K, a great read, many thanks for that!Sep 24, 2020 at 9:22 am #3677286Tipi WalterBPL Member
To me, it’s not walking that is important as nearly everyone walks—in towns, thru Malls, in Walmarts ETC ETC. What’s important is doing my walking in the great outdoors or what’s left of it—in wilderness for example. I better hike in it now before it’s all gone due to sprawl and human development—the Vanishing American Landscape.
And to me there’s a vast difference between “mere” Dayhiking and multi-day Backpacking. I see the first as torture and the second as fulfilling; torturous because dayhikers don’t spend the night—and what’s the point of reaching a pristine area if you can’t sleep with Miss Nature??? But that’s just me.Sep 24, 2020 at 10:53 pm #3677384KarenBPL Member
These writings are all great, thank you for sharing. I try to walk to work many days, or walk home if I can get a ride in. Sometimes I walk both ways, but that’s a lot of time. I’m 5.5 miles from work. I love walking home, the first 1/2 mile I’m still “working,” brain won’t stop. Then suddenly I notice I’m not thinking any more. I’m just walking. I’m aware of everything, smell, sights, small critters, reflection of light on water, I can sense when someone is behind me, even quite a ways behind me. I walk the next 4.5 miles without thinking, just being, on paths in the woods. The last half mile I come to the busy highway and have to cross, so I’m back to thinking again. Sometimes the drivers honk at me, or throw something out the window (not often, fortunately but it has happened more than once). Sometimes it’s catcalls or the creepy psychopath who lives in my neighborhood is on the road and I have to watch my back. I have to watch for moose too, because I go through a tunnel of brush. When I arrive home, work is far away, and worries are nonexistent. I love walking. I wish I had more time for it. And I wish it didn’t hurt. But everything hurts these days, c’est la vie.Sep 24, 2020 at 11:33 pm #3677388David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern CaliforniaOct 8, 2020 at 5:02 pm #3678863Ben KilbourneBPL Member
@rex I love the idea of taking a pocket recorder. Better than taking a phone and the temptations inherent therein.
@abhitt Thanks for the Fletcher recommendation. I’ll check it out.
@areality I’d like to hear more about the combination of walking with mantra practice. I’m curious also about vipassana meditation retreats, how even walking to and from the bathroom is supposed to be a continuation of practice. I’ve only read about this, I have no personal experience.
@obxcola Thanks for the “On Trails” recommendation. From Wikipedia: “In 2018, during a lecture at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California, Solnit said, “I’m falsely credited with coining the term ‘mansplaining’. It was a 2010 New York Times word of the year. I did not actually coin it. I was a bit ambivalent about the word because it seems a little bit more condemnatory of the male of the species than I ever wanted it to be.””
@book Good call on Rimbaud. One of Patti Smith’s heroes.
@doug-i Thanks for sharing this. A good reminder that everyone needs to get out, including people who don’t walk.
@tipiwalter Certainly my preference too. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic for a lot of people to make it into the backcountry. For many, especially lower-income folks, neighborhoods and local parks will have to suffice.
@gearmaker Thanks for pointing us towards forest bathing, I love the idea.
@granolagirlak Thanks for sharing. I love hearing others’ experiences with walking and the transformation that takes place. And with regards to “everything hurts these days,” I hear you. Personal physical pain, yes, but when I read those words I thought immediately of the state of the world today, where uncertainty is pain. It’s been interesting to see how walking during this troubling time has become such a life-giving ceremony for so many people.
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